The center, which gets drug users back on their feet after, is the brainchild of ODAAT and Yesha Ministries.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken,” Mel Wells, president of addiction recovery program One Day At A Time, read from the Old Testament. “… We have more than three partners in the room today.”
Addressing a crowd in Point Breeze this week, Wells, along with Bishop James Darrell Robinson, pastor and founder of Yesha Ministries, officially commemorated the opening of their collective project, Recovered Dormitories — a newly renovated co-ed recovery facility located at 1712 Point Breeze Ave., which is funded by the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disability Services, Philadelphia City Council, Urban Affairs Coalition, Independence Blue Cross and state Sen. Sharif Street.
Fusing two extensive histories of community service, Wells, a North Philly native, and Robinson, a South Philly native, met for the first time in early 2018 to brainstorm a new approach toward addiction healing.
After a few months of collaboration, the visionaries opened the doors to the South Philly space in early September, reaching out to dozens of recovering drug users from across the city. The center offers not only medical health services, including HIV/AIDS tests and case management, but also access to both group and one-on-one recovery counseling, fundamental computer training, opportunities for GED classes sponsored in partnership with Community College of Philadelphia and sources to find apartments after being discharged. The center can support up to 50 beds for residents, as clients experience the first 30-day “blackout period.”
“It’s wonderful when you come across someone that has the same mindset to help people that you have,” Robinson told the crowd. “And so, this relationship that has been forged between ODAAT and Yesha Ministries is one that is powerful, and it’s one that will change the community, because we have the same purpose and the same mindset.”
Describing it as fate, Wells said it was a blessing when the two were introduced by a reverend earlier this year, as Wells and Robinson were both seeking ways to expand their resources and contacts to help the community.
Wells’ father founded ODAAT in 1983 after his own battle with addiction recovery. Starting as a one-room detox space in North Philadelphia, it eventually multiplied into 32 houses, currently sheltering more than 200 men and women in recovery living. According to its annual report last year, ODAAT serves more than 52,000 Philadelphians on an annual basis through outreach at local parks, the SEPTA Subway system, community events and festivals.
“Without my father, being one of the first recovering people to start a recovery home in the city of Philadelphia, One Day At A Time would not exist. … This building was built for individuals that are golden in heart, that people one time said that they were throwaways,” Wells said. “But now, they’re turning into champions.”
Yesha Ministries, lead by Robinson, already offers several services to recovery patients, including once running a 63-bed recovery house for drug addicts, connecting them to the church.
State Rep. Jordan Harris of the 186th legislative district was also in attendance, commending Wells and Robinson’s union. Harris describes recovery centers throughout the city, including South Philadelphia, as “subpar” and “subhumane.”
But, this new center, which currently houses 38 clients, defies what he’s witnessed in similar spaces.
“Folks in my district, like people all across the city and the commonwealth are experiencing and have been experiencing substance abuse issues, and this gives them an opportunity to get the health that they need — the holistic health, and it helps them get that help right here in their community,” Harris told SPR. “And, it doesn’t break up families, and it actually helps reunify families, so having this here, it’s extremely important to the reunification and reintegration of folks who are coming off of their substance abuse and who are beginning to rebuild their lives in their community.”
To learn more about the new facility, visit: http://odaat-philly.org/.