I guess I will talk about how it all came about!
I had been selling Real Estate since I was 20 years old. In my late twenties, I was working in South Beach and trying to save enough money to invest in some property of my own. For years I had tried but all of my savings seemed to go into drugs and late nights out. This was just one indicator that I had a problem. I tried to get sober many times…many Treatment Centers, many therapist and many unsavory half-way houses. I finally went to long term treatment in Mississippi, COPAC. After a year there, I was finally ready to come home, to Florida. South Beach didn’t appeal to me anymore and I had heard about the Real Estate boom in Delray Beach.
I moved here eight years ago found a great Big Book sponsor at Central House, one of the many local Alcoholics Anonymous club houses here. I vigorously dove into the 12 steps with him and started working tirelessly as a Real Estate Salesman, trying to save enough money to buy my first investment. About a year and a half into my stay I had saved enough money to do it. In the mean time I started to learn that Delray Beach is the ‚ Recovery Capitol of the World. What a perfect match! I could combine my two loves; Helping People through Alcoholics Anonymous and Investing in Real Estate.
I found a villa in East Delray Beach, through Harold Jonas, Owner of the Delray Inn, www.sober.com and Koffeeokee Coffee House. At the time, he owned the longest running half-way house in Delray Beach. He became my half-way house sponsor (Insert Giggle). So, I started with 5 beds. I had no idea of what I was in for. I was so naive. I thought that if someone was living at a half-way house they really wanted to get sober. I soon found out that wasn’t the case. Rules had to be created and enforced. I lost many tenants initially. But, I knew that I could not start out on this venture if it was going to conflict with my own program that I had been developing with my sponsor and through the Steps and Traditions of AA. Calls to my sponsor went from daily to hourly. I started to bring my Big Book to the house meetings. Interestingly, I found that most of these guys had never been exposed to the solution of Alcoholics Anonymous. Remembering that ‚ Love and Tolerance is our code‚Äù, I trudged on! As time went on word got out that there was a real safe place to get sober if you really wanted to.
I did find an ally in one of the tenants. He had a year of sobriety when I took over the half-way house, had a strong understanding of the program of action (the 12 Steps) talk about in Alcoholics Anonymous, sponsored many men in Delray and became my property manager for the next two years. After his two years of working with me he when on to get his Masters in Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy. He is now working on his PHD, at Barry University, in Miami-Dade County.
There were a few decisions that I had to make early on.
First: Since I had experienced some of the most horrific half-way houses in the country; tenants getting high, no accountability and the physical structure of the buildings falling down, there would be no way that I could live with myself if I allowed this to go on in my own half-way house. Unlike most half-way house owners, I actually own the properties which give me the freedom to renovate and improve whenever and whatever I feel the properties need. I believe that pride in ones environment is crucial! We have spent many a night in crack houses, shooting galleries and street corners and when we get sober esteem building is essential.
Second (And probably the most important thing that I do): I made the decision that during the time (minimum stay of 90 days) that my tenants are staying at Healing Properties, they will hear the message of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous at least one time in their life. If I can accomplish this, I feel that I have done my job.
Everything else I/we do at Healing Properties stems off those two ideas.