Discovery House top dog Jerome Abraham got the chance today to do what few of us have ever done -- accept a cool $50,000 in cheques.
"I'm usually not a loss for words, but I'm absolutely speechless right now," said a clearly stunned Abraham moments afterward.
As he should be. Abraham showed up at Parker's Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram today at noon, happily expecting a healthy donation to kick off Discovery House's 2020 Shed the Light on Addiction campaign.
He'd been told it was 20 grand. But Parker's president, Janet Parker, had other ideas. Namely $40,000 from the dealership and another $10,000 from her personally.
"It's pretty serious money, yes," said Parker, "but I think we have a pretty big drug problem in Penticton, and I think we can help save lives and help families in our community. It's very, very important to me."
Parker, also a member of the Discovery House board, pointed specifically to the program's need for additional housing.
"We gave them such a large donation because we're really hoping we get another house where we can do second-stage housing," she said.
"We're a big supporter of Discovery House because it's completely abstinence-based, and second-stage housing gives men the chance to get back to their families, their communities, and their jobs."
Seconding Parker's words was Abraham, who's long been on the lookout for an additional facility.
"A new house would give us an additional eight beds," he said. "We currently have 17, and as of today we have a wait list of 48 people."
Abraham explained the second-stage concept, saying the primary Discovery House on Winnipeg Street deals with "primary" clients and the additional facility would be "independent and semi-independent living" where clients can work and/or attend school yet still have access to counseling and support.
"Guys who stay with us longer and go though the secondary housing, 75% of those guys remain clean and get their lives back. The guys who don’t have that option, it's probably 20%. It's a huge difference."
Discovery House is currently eyeing up a multi-residence home directly next door to the main facility. It's still under construction, with a finishing date in March, 2021.
Also on hand for today's presentation was Blaine Russell, a graduate of the program and now its operations manager. And he can vouch for its worthiness.
"I've been clean for four years now," said Russell. "That's huge for me. It's been 25 years since I could say that."
Russell is well-known in hockey circles, playing for Lethbridge in the WHL before being signed by the NHL's Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
"I played in the minor leagues for eight years," he said, "and then got into goalie coaching in the WHL for the Edmonton Oil Kings and Prince George Cougars."
He then came to Penticton to work with the Okanagan Hockey Group. But throughout, he was plagued by alcohol addiction.
"Then addiction just took over and I ended up losing everything. My job, house, car, my will to live. It was complete rock bottom."
But he eventually checked into Discovery House, and it's been all uphill from there. "And now I get to give back and help other guys who come through," he said.
With today's extraordinary donation, the largest one-source funding input in Discovery House history, Jerome Abraham has set his sights a little higher for this year's Shed the Light on Addiction campaign.
"Our goal was $40,000," he said. "But now we hope the community can match the amazing donation from Parker's. It really bodes well for us in our pursuit of that house."
The campaign runs through Dec. 31st. To donate, head here and hit the "Donate" button.
Excerpt from PentictonNow.com