The Northern Women’s Recovery House Society held their first annual Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser on Mar. 2 to raise money and awareness for a proposed recovery home in Terrace.
The new society formed in September 2018 after recognizing the need to provide a safe, sober place for women returning from treatment centres — which would be the first facility in the Northwest.
“We’d like to either build or buy a home that will be a house for northern women in recovery,” says Valerie Wright, chair and founder of the society. “When a woman comes back, she needs a non-drinking place so she can carry on into stage two recovery.”
The spaghetti dinner fundraiser, which took place at the Zion Baptist Church, had 80 attendees and raised $1,600. Wright says it was a wonderful feeling to be supported by so many people and that “it’s just a reflection of what people want in the community.”
Wright says there’s a dire need for a place like this in the region as many women struggling with addiction often resort to the shelters, where it can be difficult not to relapse as intoxicated persons have to legally be allowed in. Hospitals only accept people in medical distress and not everybody has a safe home to return to.
“There would be programming [in the house], with a stay of three to six months or longer. Prior to their leave, they’d be helped to go back to school and work before they went out on their own,” says Wright. “[It’s a] 12-step approach that’s spiritually-based, going to programs that allow them to get to know people in the community as it’s an ongoing recovery.”
With the support of the Terrace Women’s Resource Centre Society, she has managed to form a board of nine people in the past year to make the vision of a recovery house in the Northwest happen.
Wright says that once the Northern Women’s Recovery House Society receives non-profit status within the next three months, it will help move them forward and make it easier to request funds. So far, they’ve been relying on garage sales to raise money for their cause.
“I worked in addictions and mental health for most of my career and I just couldn’t believe there was really nothing available here,” says Wright. “I spent most of my years in northern Ontario, there we have recovery homes for men, recovery homes for women, we have treatment centres and that’s all in the [medical and social services].”
In the 1980s, Wright worked as a board member of the Breton House in Ste. St. Marie, Ont. and witnessed how their recovery house project benefited the women in northern Ontario.
She says that their proposal would model their program by including aspects in the 10 to 12-bed residence such as meditation, yoga, art therapy, anger management, teaching life skills and group therapy led by certified addiction counselors.
“It’s been so successful that there really is no need to reinvent the wheel… it’s well structured, the clients know what’s expected of them when they come in,” says Wright.
Although she recognizes the need for a recovery home for men as well, she says that women tend to be more “vulnerable” and that it’s a good project to start with.
She adds that women already have to leave the region to attend a treatment centre and it adds pressure to their recovery as it can cost a lot to travel, plus not all programs are covered. If they don’t have the financial support and overall encouragement, it can increase their vulnerability to alcohol. By creating a comfortable home to allow women to transition back to the area, she says it would help them create good habits to make it an easier transition for them and their families.
In the meantime, Wright says that they will continue running fundraiser events and are currently looking for a secretary and bookkeeper treasurer for their board.
A previous error was made in the original publication of this article in the Terrace Standard. Wright was misquoted, “… we have treatment centres and that’s all in the law.” The actual word was “north”. She wishes to correct it to be “medical and social services” instead.