Penticton’s Discovery House lights the way for those with addictions

Gord Portman bows his head during a moment of silence for all those lost to fatal overdoses at Discovery House's 2022 Shed the Light on Addiction light-up. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
A crowd gathered for Discovery House's 2022 Shed the Light on Addiction light-up. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Alumni, current clients and staff of Discovery House gather for a photo outside at the 2022 Shed the Light on Addiction light-up. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)

Penticton’s Discovery House is a beacon for those struggling with addictions, and the community around them has continued to help shine that light.

The addiction recovery program marked the holidays with the return of its open house on Dec. 17, and then turned the lights on outside in the climax of the annual Shed the Light on Addiction campaign.

Beforehand, the house on Winnipeg Street was busy with tours as people popped by and got a chance to meet and speak with some of the clients and staff at Discovery House, and to learn a little of their stories and struggles.

With the lights on, there was another crowd that was ready to brave the cold outside. Local representatives spoke alongside past clients of the program, and all of them had nothing but praise for the staff and the lifesaving work that Discovery House does.

Adam Rice, and alumni of the program, donated $1,000 back to Discovery House, and called on the community to share what they could as well.

“If it wasn’t for Discovery House, I wouldn’t have my family back, I wouldn’t have my amazing friends and I wouldn’t have the life I had today,” said Rice. “I would like to challenge anybody that can afford it to donate whatever you can to help people save their lives.”

Fundraising, through campaigns including Shed the Light on Addiction and Soup is Good Food, is key to keeping the services at Discovery House going. So far, close to $90,000 has been raised through the Shed the Light on Addiction campaign alone.

The money that’s raised goes to fund four of Discovery House’s 13 recovery beds. The Shed the Light on Addiction goal of $150,000 for 2022 would fund those beds for a whole year, which means providing care for between 16 to 20 men struggling with addiction.

In total, the program sees about 40 to 60 men go through it each year, with a wait list that can be up to 60 people long at times, but it’s been worth it. Discovery House’s alumni program, which has regular meetings, dinners and counsellor access, has 150 members, including those who live in B.C. or further afield in countries like

READ MORE: Shed the Light on Addiction and help support Penticton’s Discovery House

As much as the night is a celebration of the efforts of those at Discovery House, staff and clients both past and present, it also as a time to remember.

Gord Portman, another Discovery House alumni, has since become an outreach worker, striving to give back to the community.

“I’ve lost 116 friends to overdosing here in Penticton,” Portman said before leading the crowd into a moment of silence for them, and the many other victims of the opioid crisis.

Each year, the importance of the work that Discovery House does only grows. By the end of September, the City of Penticton saw 24 fatal overdoses. In all of 2021, there were a total of 26 deaths from overdose, which was the worst year since 2019 when there were 21 fatal overdoses.

In 2020, the program opened Parker Place to extend the care they provide beyond the 90-day program, with several beds for semi-independent living. Those beds help with the transition back to working and living on their own; with the support network at Discovery House at their back.

“I was here for 714 days,” said Portman. “I was here for six months then went to the other house on Wade Avenue for a year and three months. I volunteered at Discovery House every Sunday and Monday, and then they finally hired me as staff, and I started doing peer support work with Interior Health, and yeah, today I have a really good life.

“I’ve been clean for two and half years now, and I give back six days a week helping people with addictions to get help and get better.”

The Shed the Light on Addiction campaign runs until the end of the year.

The easiest way for people to donate is through the Canadahelps page, but Discovery House will also accept E-Transfers to: prrs@shaw.ca or cheques mailed to Discovery House, 633 Winnipeg St., Penticton, B.C. V2A 5N1 You can also contact Jerome Abraham at 250-462-1388 for more information.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

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