Recovered addicts help build residence for homeless women

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Recovered addicts help build residence for homeless women

The house at the corner of Dominion and Park streets in Moncton is full of people who understand the importance of the work they are doing.

Almost everyone working Thursday to put the roof on the stripped house has first-hand experience with addiction.

"I was a drug addict for most of my life," said carpenter Jason Muir, who owns Muir's Done Right Carpentry. "I have seven years clean now."

When he heard Harvest House needed help, he jumped at the chance to be there. 

"It's such an amazing project, it needs to be done."

More than a shelter

When it is completed, the house will be a nine-bedroom residence for women who need a place to live, whether because of addiction or homelessness. Harvest House has beds for women in the shelter, but nothing like what Cal Maskery is envisioning for the new residence.

"You know, you come to a shelter, it's out of the cold, but it's eight beds in one room," said Maskery, the Harvest House founder.

"You're sleeping with seven other people, someone snoring through the night, someone getting up to go to the bathroom. So it's not the most quality place."

Maskery said this house will provide two important things to women who need help getting back on their feet: a room of their own and a community of support.

"Something they may not have had at home, or may have to earn back at home because they've burned some of their bridges in the past."

Harvest House is a faith-based organization, but Maskery said people participating in any of the programs don't have to be religious or share any religious beliefs. He said counselling and Bible study are available, but participation is optional.

Harvest House doesn't have enough money to complete the project, so Maskery called in favours to get the house sealed up before more snow falls. He said the New Brunswick Community College helped design the home, and former participants and people currently in addiction recovery programs are putting in hours of volunteer work.

"I'm excited to see some of the guys moving forward and learning new skills," said Maskery.

Muir said he knows from experience, "that building will save lives, that building will be a safe secure place where they can get their feet back underneath them and start walking again."

Even with temperatures well below zero, Muir said, he and the crew are enjoying their work. 

"It's cold, but it's part of being a carpenter and it's part of giving back, and we're warm in heart."

Maskery said these nine beds will free up a number of spaces in the women's addiction recovery home. If enough money is raised and the weather holds out, Maskery hopes to have the roof on by Monday, and the house completed by early spring.