The journey to recovery

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A new home for men recovering from substance abuse is on its way to opening on Joseph Street in Chatham. Intake co-ordinator Zoe Mendler stands on the front porch of the 120-year Queen Anne Victorian home that will house 10 to 12 residents once zoning is approved.

By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A new residential home aimed at helping men recover from trauma and addiction is taking shape in Chatham.

Located in an expansive Victorian home at 20 Joseph St., Journeys Recovery hopes to house 10 to 12 men when it officially gets rolling.

Intake co-ordinator Zoe Mendler said the home will take both a faith-based and 12-step recovery approach in its programming.

“We want to provide a supportive family-type living environment,” Mendler told The Voice recently. “We want to have meals together and for the men to connect that are living here.”

Mendler, a certified mental health and addictions worker and recovering addict herself, said Journey’s Recovery clients need to be sober before signing on for the three-month program. They must attend detox before coming to the facility and drug test prior to admittance.

Random drug tests are carried out throughout each resident’s stay, Mendler noted, and there is a “zero-tolerance policy” for anyone who is drinking or using. Clients are confined to the property for the first two weeks of their stay, and trips offsite thereafter must be conducted in pairs using the buddy system. Residents are drug tested upon their return.

Those coming to Journeys Recovery must also sign a strict contract that spells out the rules before being admitted.

“Accountability is super important to us,” Mendler said. “We want to build bonds and protect the people living here…help the men become less reactive and help them get to the root of the problem. Addiction is always a symptom of a deeper issue.”

According to Mendler, Journeys Recovery will also welcome males who are clean and sober who are on wait lists to get into residential treatment programs elsewhere.

“We want to bridge that gap,” Mendler said. “We want people to stay here who are waiting…we don’t want people on the streets.”

When it comes to the substances users are abusing locally, Mendler said opioids are king, with fentanyl topping the list.

“It’s constant,” she added. “Fentanyl is taking so many lives. Everyone on our board of directors has lost someone to addiction. We want to stop the cycle.”

A group with an eight-member board of directors bought the large grey Queen Anne-style residence in March and began renovations in May. The house provides several large, comfortable shared living spaces, shared eating and cooking areas, and upper floor bedrooms where clients sleep in assigned bunkbeds.

Mendler said Journeys Recovery receives no public money and will rely on donors and fundraising to operate. Clients will be charged $600 per month for room and board.

Journeys Recovery still needs a zoning change from the Municipality of Chatham-Kent before it can begin operations.

A petition supporting the home has been started and can be found at change.org. Those interested in learning more can find Journeys Recovery online.

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