Discovery House residents Raegan Phillips and Greg Elliott with lighted ornaments. Individual bulbs and strand are on sale now as part of the Shed the Light on Addiction campaign. Mark Brett/Western News

Okanagan Discovery House shedding the light on addiction and removing the stigma

The annual awareness and fundraising campaign underway for Discovery House

Illuminating the darkness of addiction and removing the stigma are the objectives of the second annual Discovery House Shed the Light on Addiction campaign.

This year’s goal through the pre-purchase of holiday lights at $10 each or a strand of 25 for $250 is to raise $25,500.

“People can purchase the lights in memory of somebody or even just to support people who are in recovery,” said Discovery House executive director Jerome Abraham. “Last year we raised enough to support the subsidy cost of three rooms for a year. That has had a big impact on having those beds open for people who are in need of long-term recovery but who could not otherwise afford it.

“I’m sure it’s made a huge individual impact on a lot of people’s lives.”

One of those lives belongs to former client Richard Haughian, who was addicted and homeless when he “stumbled through the gates” of the first Discovery House location on Wade Avenue nearly a decade ago.

An addict by the time he was in Grade 8 and dealing drugs as well, he blamed his addiction and “self-medicating” on the guilt and shame he felt at the death his younger sister, who drowned when he was 10.

“I was off riding my horse up in the hills above West Bench and when I came back there was a big search on for her. I got back just in time to see a diver carrying her out of the water,” said Haughian, in a Discovery House video.

“Then I walked into the funeral home on Winnipeg (Street) here and saw an open casket of her.”

Related: Discovery House shedding the light on addiction

At the time he had to be sedated, shortly afterwards his drinking and drug use began to shut out the pain.

For the next 35 years, not all of which time he was using drugs or alcohol, his addiction manifesting itself into power, greed and violence, when the guilt and shame once again became overwhelming and he found himself on the Discovery House doorstep.

“Recovery was no great choice or decision of mine to make,” he recalled. “The house manager kept me. I was pretty hardcore and quite the mess when I came in here. I didn’t know anything about recovery or how I was going to do it. It was what I needed, a controlled environment, some structure.

“You know what, I learned how to be accountable to myself and others. I’m a pretty soft, caring, kind, loving person these days. I’m sort of growing into the person my parents started raising, it all boils down to the support and care from the guys that came before us in this program.”

One of the most important aspects at the house is the support and caring of addicts helping addicts within the walls of the house.

Related: Parkers Chrysler and Janet Parker donate $30,900 to Discovery House.

“l do exactly what this program’s asked me to do, I’m heading towards nine years clean, I have an amazing life with amazing people in it. I reconnected with my son after a 22-year absence.

“A lot of time I get overwhelmed and reduced to tears with gratitude for everything in my life these days and it all started with walking through the gates of this place.”

Discovery House has since added another residence at 633 Winnipeg St., which will host a special light up of the purchased bulbs and open house Dec. 15 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“We’ll have some baking and people will have an opportunity to tour the house and meet some of the people that are living here,” said Abraham.

Those who donate will receive a lighted ornament made by the residents, an honorary plaque to be hung at the open house and a tax receipt for donations over $20.

To purchase a bulb or strands, contact Abraham at 250-462-1388.


 

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