Hundreds of people trying to get their lives back on track have been helped by a sober living house in Victoria and one of those people is the director of Anawim House.
“A day doesn’t go by that I’m not blessed, that I don’t see the fruits of what I am able to contribute to,” says Terry Edison-Brown, the house director of Anawim House. “I have a firm belief it was given to me so freely, that I have to give it back.”
Edison-Brown has been at Anawim House, a sober living house for the homeless, for 25 years.
“Anawim House is a day house for people living in poverty trying to find a better way of life,” Edison-Brown says. “We have two programs. We have a drop-in program and a residential program.”
Facilities at Anawim House include a family-sized kitchen, large living room and entertainment centre, shower and laundry facilities, library, and an arts and craft studio.
“We call it the little charity that could because we are small but we have great impact,” adds Susan Doyle, who is on the Anawim House board of directors. “We have a residence for seven men, many of them are recovering addiction, but mostly we say people are coming to us to recover from poverty.”
The drop-in program is open to men and women and gives people a chance to wash their clothes, have a shower, stay warm during the day, and have a hot meal.
“But most importantly, what we want to do is find out who they are,” Edison-Brown explains. “Why are they living on the streets? Why are they living in poverty? And what can we do to help empower them to get their lives back?”
Edison-Brown knows first-hand the life-changing difference Anawim House—which is run completely on donations—can make.
“My story is a good story because it’s going from rags to riches sort of idea, but the thing is the house actually helped me to do this,” Edison-Brown says. “They did this by caring for me, by allowing me to find my own path and helping me along that journey.”
Edison-Brown was living on the street and dealing with addiction when he came to Anawim as a young man.
“From there, I realized that I can have a different life, I can have a better way to be, so I asked how to move in here,” he says. “When I moved in here, I realized I had many issues, a lot of stuff going on, and they helped me in the house.”
Sarah Cary-Barnard started volunteering at Anawim because she wanted to help make a difference.
“I’ve struggled with mental health and addiction myself so I’ve been through it and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of other people, so I want to help other people too,” Cary-Barnard says.
And in the New Year, Anawim will be opening a house for women after a generous donor gifted a property to them.
“It’s so exciting!” Doyle says. “It’s one of the only second-stage housing for women that’s online, coming online in the victoria area. It’s very needed and will help a lot of vulnerable women who are living on the street in Victoria.”
Anawim held a fundraiser on Nov. 19 for the new house for women where almost $400,000 was raised.
“[The new house] is going to empower women to change and grow and get their lives back,” Edison-Brown adds.