Taking ACTION in Michigan: Above the Water House

Submitted by: 11/01/2009
Keywords: ACTION Campaign, Success Story

For women recovering from addiction to alcohol or other drugs, a safe living environment helps build the foundation for long-term recovery. Above the Water House (ATWH) in Flint, Michigan recently celebrated five years of providing a sober living environment to more than 100 women.

Virlyn Allen-Poe directs the ATWH. New to the ACTION Campaign II, Virlyn is interested in connecting with others who work to help women start the path to long-term recovery.

Virlyn opened the house her father owned to recovering women in 2004. "Above the Water House offers the safe, structured environment women early in recovery need." Residents are referred to Above the Water House from the county, local churches, and other referral sources. Poe works with each resident to establish a program for daily living, based on the principles of Alcoholic Anonymous. Poe also works a full-time job in addition to running Above the Water House. "I see myself as a mentor and guide to the members of the program," she says. "Seeing them reunite with their families and return to fulfilling employment or school is incredibly rewarding."

Carol T. was among the nearly 100 alumni and supporters who attended the five-year anniversary event in October. Now in recovery from addiction to heroin and alcohol, Carol watched her husband die from an overdose, and she herself overdosed twice. As a full time GM worker I could support my habit," says Carol. Her two sons used heroin with her, one of them ending up in prison. She also was jailed for possession of illicit substances and maintaining a drug house. Carol contacted Above the Water House in January 2007. After living there for six months, she was able to reunite with her children, who are now also in recovery. She will also be closing on a home of her own. "Thanks to Above the Water House, I got my life back," says Carol. "It gave me a chance to start a new life. The structure helped me gain confidence, and discipline to be on my own. If I would have tried it on my own, I would have returned to using."

Poe looks forward to another five years of helping Flint women rebuild their lives, with plans to expand her home to accommodate more recovering women.

About Above the Water House

Contact: Virilyn Allen Poe, Director of Above the Water House vallen-poe@comcast.net (810) 877-2907

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