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The New Kitchen: Treatment program helps mothers nourish families again

The kitchen is at the heart of what brings us together on Thanksgiving. And now, there's a new kitchen that is so much more than a place to cook: It lets mothers find what they lost to addiction. (WKRC)

WALNUT HILLS, Ohio (WKRC) - The kitchen is at the heart of what brings us together on Thanksgiving.

And now, there's a new kitchen that is so much more than a place to cook: It lets mothers find what they lost to addiction.

The New Kitchen is at First Step Home, a women's-only treatment facility and the only one in Hamilton County that allows children to live with their mothers going through treatment.

Markita B.'s been at First Step for three weeks. Her son, Cameron, gets to stay with her sometimes. Cooking for him lets her be the mother she was before heroin.

"This represents health, nourishment family. It also represents gathering, you know? Because we all gather and eat together here," Markita said. "And it represents being able to be a mother."

"I'm so grateful for it; I'm so grateful that--I can learn how to cook! You know, being a mom, you have to know how to cook for your kids," said Cindy M., another mother staying at First Step Home.

While hooked on heroin, Cindy went days without eating.

"When I did eat, it was because I had stolen a little snack cake or something from a gas station. You know, my main priority was heroin, and I didn't want to spend any extra money on food," she said.

Now her priority is 3-week-old McKenna. Cindy got to First Step just in time--McKenna was not born addicted.

"Now, looking back, I can't imagine my life without her; I can't imagine. She saved my life," Cindy said.

Seven local foundations donated the money to make this kitchen happen.

"It's more than just a kitchen; the women come here to cook as a community, and some of them are great cooks and they teach the other moms," said First Step Home's director of Human Resources, Cindy Fischer.

The room of stainless steel, food, spices, pots and pans has has psychological benefits.

"You start to lose who you are, and I just wanted to find me again," said Markita.

Markita says she found some of herself here in the New Kitchen where she can be the mom who cooks dinner for her family again.

Right now, there are 63 women getting treatment at First Step Home. First Step says 97 percent of women who deliver babies through their addiction program have no further contact with the justice system.

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