A P.E.I. man recovering from addiction has founded a new foundation with the aim of making recovery on the Island easier.
Gregg McCardle founded the Phoenix Foundation for Addiction and Recovery this summer, and its first project, which looks to see more intravenous needles properly disposed of, is already well underway.
"Finding spent needles in parks is disturbing and it's also very dangerous, especially where children are involved," McCardle told Island Morning host Laura Chapin.
McCardle, who works with people in recovery, said one of his clients told him he would prefer to properly dispose of needles, but it's difficult if you find yourself using outside.
Looking for a solution, McCardle came across portable sharps containers being used in Vancouver.
They're about the size of an eyeglass case. McCardle used his own money to buy 1,000 of them, at a cost of about $2,000, and began distributing them for free through the Community Outreach Centre and PEERS Alliance. He has since received a microgrant from the City of Charlottetown covering that cost.
"Almost half of those containers are distributed and we're seeing lots of them coming back full, which is a good metric of the success of this project," he said.
That's just the beginning of what McCardle would like to see the foundation do.
From his own experience of recovering from alcohol addiction, McCardle said he identified areas where P.E.I. was coming up short in supporting people, and not just in treatment or shortage of beds. His list includes needs such as housing, employment and aftercare.
"There's a stigma attached to addictions and alcoholism, especially on Prince Edward Island, which makes it difficult to get employment, get housing, get services of any kind, really," he said.
One of the foundation's next efforts will be to create an employment program for people in recovery. The plan would see the government subsidize wages for employers who took on people in recovery.
McCardle said employers will be surprised at what a person recovering from addiction can offer.
"After fighting that battle, they're [a] much stronger person, much stronger-willed and often able to withstand more stresses than maybe the average person," he said.
The foundation is currently seeking charitable status.