Sober Home Opens, Gets ‘into Action’

October 1, 2018

TEWKSBURY -- Just four days after Into Action Recovery, Inc. held an open house at its new sober living home, the organization welcomed its first resident.

The sober living home designed to serve men recovering from drug and or alcohol addiction follows the 12-step program. Program Director David Hanley said roughly 150 people attended the Sept. 19 open house at 20 Fox Run Drive.

The house has seven rooms, which volunteers sponsored in memory of a loved one lost to addiction. By sponsoring the rooms, they helped with labor, painting, and donated money to purchase things like bedding, curtains and televisions.

“The support we received was overwhelming,” Hanley said. “We were really proud to show it, but at the same time it was very emotional for some of our volunteers who sponsored rooms. It was therapeutic for a lot of us.”

Hanley has recovered from his own addiction to drugs, but lost his brother, Derek Hanley, to an overdose in December 2016. He was 31 years old and on a waiting list for a sober house when he died.

The master bedroom in the home was sponsored in Derek Hanley’s name. He was the son and nephew of Patti-Jo Hanley and Mary-Ellen Cooper, respectively, who are sisters and Into Action Recovery co-founders.

A silver plaque above the master bedroom room door reads “In Loving Memory of Derek Hanley.” Hanley said to see his brother’s name over the door makes him feel proud.

“It makes me feel like my brother’s death has not gone in vain. I hope that he would be proud of what we’re doing and I think he would be,” Hanley said. “That room is going to save a lot of lives over the years.”

Some began volunteering and supporting Into Action Recovery just months after losing a loved one.

“That’s hard for somebody to even get out of bed, nevermind come out and start using their grief as positive energy and try to help other people,” Hanley said. “That’s completely selfless and we’re blown away.”

The living room area is dedicated in the memory of the late Jim Miceli, who served as state representative for the 19th Middlesex District. Miceli was instrumental in securing state funding for the organization before his death in April.

“Everybody that’s been involved with this project from inception understands this house would not be open without Jim Miceli,” Hanley said. “He was our biggest supporter and biggest cheerleader. I can’t say enough about what he did for us.”

In addition to state support, Into Action Recovery has been fundraising for years leading up to the opening of this sober home. The organization launched a GoFundMe campaign, began an annual 5K Run for Recovery and an annual golf tournament.

“All the fundraising we’ve been doing has not been wasted,” Hanley said. “I think it really helps that people can see a concrete structure. It’s not donating to an idea anymore.”

There has been tension between Into Action Recovery and some Fox Run Drive residents concerned about the sober living home moving into the community. Concerns about safety, property values and the sober home’s protocols have all come up in conversation. Residents have also met with town officials and local police about Into Action Recovery. However, Hanley said there were about 10 neighbors who attended the open house.

“Some (neighbors) have started to come around and it’s still a little bit tense with some,” Hanley said. “But, we want them to see we’re working a lot and we’re trying to run a calm, quiet program here.”

Residents at this sober home will already have gone through detox and have achieved some sobriety. Hanley said the home is designed to help its residents transition back into their personal and work lives.

“It brings it home for me, personally, that we’re really doing work now. This isn’t an idea or a pipe dream anymore,” Hanley said. “We’re just really excited to get to work, start saving lives and help turn the tide on this epidemic.”

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.

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