Pastor Tim Remington carries the baggage of a man who almost took his own life many years ago. But he channels his troubled past into a program that has graduated more than 1200 former addicts and convicts.
“My purpose is to introduce them to the God that created them,” Remington told KHQ’s Gabe Cohen. “The second is to create a healthy environment within the community. The people that are stealing from you, the people that are out there doing these horrible things, most of them it’s drug related or alcohol related.”
Remington runs the Good Samaritan Rehabilitation Program in Coeur d’Alene. He says the program creates a safe community by taking repeat offenders and rebuilding their identity.
“They’ve had to be what their probation officer, teacher, or parents wanted them to be,” he said. We need to redefine who you are so you know where you’re going. And once they’re in, it’s hard to get rid of them. They want to stay and help other people.”
Remington runs the program through multiple live-in houses around Coeur d’Alene. One of those homes is his own. He and his wife have housed addicts since before Good Samaritan existed. It began when Remington was a Pastor in California during the 1980s.
“During that time there was a lot happening on the street, so I started a street ministry,” he said. “I started down that road to learn about what brings people to addiction.”
Remington believes a troubled childhood is the largest factor, citing that 90 percent of addiction comes from divorced homes.
“The reason a person becomes an addict is because you have lost your purpose, your identity, your confidence,” he said. “When we go in there, we say there is a way out. We give them hope.”
Remington finds the majority in the most obvious places – the jails and the courts. Many of the people he welcomes into the program are repeat offenders.
Good Samaritan boasts a 17 percent recidivism rate, which is much lower than the state and national averages for rehab programs. Remington estimates the program has saved Idaho roughly $25 million by keeping people out of jail, not to mention reforming the individuals that often commit petty crimes around the community.
“These people are not stealing from you now, not stealing from the Walmart down the street,” Remington said. “They are making money and contributing to the tax base and our culture and communities.”
But many of Remington’s graduates still must stand trial if they faced charges when they first entered. Kootenai County judges often push back their hearings until they have completed the program, according to Remington.
Brandi Irons entered the program in September after she was arrested on drug charges.
“I was evil, I was deceitful, I was a liar, I was a thief,” Irons said. “And now I feel like if I did any of those things it would not be who I am.”
But that will be for a judge to decide. She stands trial in April, when she’ll face two potential life sentences.
“I actually feel okay about it,” she said. “God is good, and no matter what his will is, I know he will be with me for all of it. So no matter where I’m at I’m going to serve the Lord. I’m going to preach to the people in prison if that’s what I have to do. And I’m going to do it with a smile on my face because at least I’m alive today.”