March 20, 2013 - 2:07 PM
"IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT PUTTING AWAY THE DRUGS OR ALCOHOL, IT'S ABOUT CHANGING YOUR THINKING"
By Charlotte Helston
One moment makes it all worth it for a Vernon addictions worker. It only lasts a second, but it changes everything.
"That moment when the light comes back to their eyes, they realize they can change things," Bob Ricard says. "It's like learning that 1+1 equals 2; it just clicks."
For the leadership team at Bill's Place, playing a part in that moment is the reason they're building a home where men suffering from addiction can find support.
Bill's Place is a recovery house and sober living apartment for men 19 or older seeking to conquer their addictions. It is the only facility of its kind in the North Okanagan, offering a variety of programs from primary care to weekly support meetings.
Walking into Bill's Place doesn't feel like entering an addictions centre, it makes you feel like kicking your shoes off and settling down on a couch, maybe making yourself a sandwich. It feels like a real home, and while patients reside there, they will knit into something of a family.
An important part of creating such a welcoming atmosphere was getting the right furniture. Couches, tables, lamps and other furnishings were donated jointly by the Kalamalka Rotary Club and one of its members, Ruby Sharma, who owns City Furniture.
"It shows we care," Dick Vanderlinde, who will reside 24/7 at Bill's Place, says. "I've seen other homes where everything donated was second hand. Here, the atmosphere inspires you to change your life."
Vanderlinde describes a step he goes through when working with someone affected by addiction. "I ask them to show me their bedroom," he says. "Usually, the walls are plain, there are piles of clothes on the floor. Getting them to clean up and put some pictures on the wall makes a huge difference."
Steve Braun, a residential worker, recovered from addiction some time ago, but nowhere as nice as Bill's Place.
"We're trying to build a community space," Braun says. "We want to instill a sense of pride here."
Braun expects to spend a lot of time sitting around a large banquet table in the living room. In the comfortable, familiar setting, men will talk about getting sober. They'll share household chores like doing dishes and cleaning up as they go through what Braun calls a go, go, go, intensive 12 step program to recovery.
"It's not just about putting away the drugs or alcohol," Braun says. "It's about changing your thinking."
The program emphasizes spirituality and taking control of your life. "We're promoting health and wellness, and we want our space to reflect that," Brad Houghton, the addictions services manager, says.
Addiction knows no boundaries, affecting men of all ages and all occupations—fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. Houghton says addictions in the workplace are as common as they are on the street, and he says they've put the word out to local companies that Bill's Place exists.
"That's how it was for me, the company I worked for thought it was worth it to pay to send me to rehab," Braun says.
The team says men are welcome to stay as long as they need to. When they are ready to move out, continuing care programs are in place to transition them back into the larger community.
"Everyone involved in Bill's Place has been affected by addiction in some way," Houghton says. "It impacts a lot of people."
Bill's Place will officially open its doors in April. Donations are appreciated as the mortgage on the house still needs to be paid off. Donations can be made by mailing a cheque to the John Howard Society at: 2307 43rd Street, Vernon, B.C. VIT 6K7 or online by visiting their website.
Businesses or clubs wanting to host a fundraising event can contact executive director Barb Levesque at 250-542-3555 ext. 203.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com or call (250)309-5230.
Brad Houghton pulls up a seat at the dining table with Ruby Sharma and Sarah Pruckl of Kalamalka Rotary Club.
(CHARLOTTE HELSTON /InfoTel Multimedia)
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013