Sometimes, life does hand you a do-over. But it is neither free nor easy, and that is when Oxford House steps in to help.
Oxford Houses are places for drug addicts and alcoholics who are newly released from treatment programs to live while they put their lives back together.
Across the nation, there are thousands of Oxford Houses, including 13 in the Tri-City/ Walla Walla area. And in a few weeks, another local site will open for men and their children.
But before they move in they will need pots and pans, tables and chairs. And beds -- lots of twin beds.
"I am in desperate need of donations of twin beds and frames, dressers and nightstands," said Jason Bliss, housing services representative in the Tri-City and Walla Walla area for Oxford House. "Very few Oxford House residents move in and bring a five-piece bedroom set. You rarely see that. Usually everything they have fits into a couple of duffle bags."
Oxford House is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, publicly supported corporation that acts as a umbrella organization for the national network of Oxford Houses. All the houses are rented, and each resident contributes a portion of the rent and other expenses.
The Davenport Oxford House in Richland will be the first for men and their children in this area. The Cherrywood Oxford House in Richland, for women and their children, opened three weeks ago and is one of three for moms and their children in the region.
The other 10 Oxford Houses in this area are for men or women. None is co-ed.
Bliss said Oxford Houses are opened as they are needed. Recently, he has had a rush of phone calls asking for houses for parents and their children.
"Before, in the Tri-Cities, there had not been that great a need," he said. "If they had children, they had other resources."
Oxford House was founded because too often, residents leave treatment centers and return to the only friends they know -- fellow addicts or alcoholics. In Oxford House, residents make new friends who understand the pressures they are facing.
Many come to an Oxford House just out of a treatment program for their addiction. They might have a history of lost jobs, arrests for drunken driving and destroyed credit histories -- all red flags for potential employers and landlords.
Unlike halfway houses, there are no managers smelling the residents' breath as they come in the door. Residents elect officers, have weekly house meetings, collect their own rent and vote in new members.
The homes are self-run, and residents are responsible for keeping clean and sober, and acting as responsible citizens.
Typically, eight adults live in each house -- fewer when there are children to accommodate. Some will move in, stay a few months, become self sufficient and move on.
"Some in this area have lived in an Oxford House for five years," Bliss said. "Our age demographic and ethnicity are all over the board. We have people as young as 18 years of age and some well into their 60s."
How to help
To donate gently used furniture or other household goods to Oxford House, call 509-430-1155.
For more information on Oxford House and the availability of houses in the Mid-Columbia, call 509-430-1155.