Of all the folks milling about Wednesday morning at the modest yet spacious home at 101 Edna Ave., there were two obvious standouts.
Thumbs up from Discovery House's Jerome Abraham, board member Janet Parker, councilor Judy Sentes, MLA Dan Ashton
The occasion was the official public unveiling of a third residence in men's recovery program Discovery House. Sporting five bedrooms distributed over two storeys, the home, purchased March 19th, will cater to clients who’ve already been through the primary Discovery House phases but would benefit from a little extra time connected to the program.
Residents will live fully independently, but will remain true to Discovery House's core principles -- including absolute sobriety -- from the day they move in to the day they head out on their own.
And Wednesday, there were two clear VIPs.
The first was Janet Parker, president of Penticton's Parker's Chrysler. When Parker lost her son Colin to a drug overdose in October of 2016, she pulled herself from her grief by digging in to help others on the same destructive path.
Along the way, she became enamored with the Discovery House abstinence-based formula, and with its people.
Four years ago, she became a board member. And this past November, she added to prior donations by presenting executive director Jerome Abraham with a whopping $40,000 cheque from her dealership and another ten grand out of her own pocket.
Much of it would ultimately go to the Edna Avenue downpayment.
And now, Parker's been recognized for her generosity and her drive. The new residence has been deemed "Parker Place."
"It's a great honour," she said while relaxing for a moment on a living room couch. "This is a real tribute."
"There's such a greater chance of success when people have long-term places to live, to go to school, to go to work, to get back to their families, and to be a useful member of society."
The other VIP was a fellow named Brian Campbell. The first Discovery House client to check in to the new digs, Campbell is indicative of the type of guy Parker Place will so greatly assist.
We caught up with him in his roomy bedroom, where an "Axis and Allies" board game lay open on a big bedside table.
"I did four months at the house on Winnipeg" he said, "then I moved over to Wade House, which is the second stage. And then I moved right in here, and I really like it.
"I needed the extra time to still be connected to Discovery House. I wasn't quite ready to go out on my own, and I could feel it. It just keep me a little more accountable, and I needed that."
Campbell, now back in the workforce part-time as a house painter, said he grabbed a counseling degree in his younger years after graduating university, and spent "years" in the youth care field.
"But," he emphasized, "because of alcohol I kind of lost my career. I now have some decisions lying ahead in my future."
Campbell said he's had periods of sobriety at other points in his life, but has never been able to find full recovery.
"But this time is different," he added. "I can feel it’s different. And it's because of Discovery House."
For top dog Abraham, Parker Place is a critical addition to the Discovery House family.
"We've never had fully independent living as part of the program," he said. "Between October of 2019 and summer of 2020, we lost seven alumni to fatal overdoses. So we noticed a huge gap between continuing care and ongoing care.
"Addiction is a lifetime illness, and the clients we deal with are some of the most marginalized and vulnerable people in our society. Some have had horrible childhoods, maybe started using early in life, gotten involved in that lifestyle and don't really have life skills. And we've seen a real need for us to provide some kind of sober living housing."
According to Abraham, Parker Place residents pay their own rent and can stay at the facility indefinitely.
"The guys do have an accountability plans with Discovery House, and they're generally working or coming back to volunteer as part of their plan. All the guys here have a year or two in abstinence-based recovery."
And he gave credit where credit is due.
"Janet Parker and Parker's Chrysler have really changed the game for us. The funding and then the community notoriety from other businesses that have jumped on board since Parker's got involved has been huge."
Discovery House operations manager Blaine Russell was all smiles over the neighbourhood reception to Parker Place.
"Some of them thought this might be a wet facility. But we made sure they knew it's complete abstinence, and we've already had some of the neighbours become donors. It's been a really cool reception so far."
Currently, there are three residents at the new facility. A fourth will arrive shortly, and a fifth not long after that. That'll mean all five bedrooms are filled, but in the near future two more beds will likely become available when a carriage house is built in the back yard.
Details are scant at present but according to the tireless Janet Parker, it's all systems go.
"What I want to do now is start the fundraising not just for Parker Place," she said, "but for the carriage house in the back. We want a two-bedroom suite and a meeting room downstairs. We're just drawing up the plans. Zoning isn’t an issue."
For more info on Discovery House, head to its website here.