Last year, Kristy Raville's life had hit rock bottom.
"I had lost myself," she said.
In 2006 Raville was in a car accident. Her body was "pretty messed up" as she put it. The pain led to a dependency on prescribed pain killers.
"I thought I needed it," Raville said. "It had a strong hold on me. My husband was addicted too — we'd be using together."
It wasn't until February 2012, when the Department of Children and Families had taken away her children, now 13 and two, that Raville and her husband decided that they needed to get their lives back. Her husband sought help through Lakeview Center and Raville found The Canaan Recovery Foundation — better known by its thrift store, Path of Grace.
"I made the phone call and was told there was a bed available," Raville recalled. "I knew I needed to do something or I was going to die."
A path to recovery
Raville spent two days in detox at Bridgeway Center, and entered into the Canaan program, a long-term, faith-based program for women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. With her and her husband looking for addiction recovery, they had no choice but to give up their home and belongings to fully commit to getting help. Raville moved into the Path of Grace home with 12 other women and began her path to recovery.
"One good thing about living with the women is it helps you grow a bond you've never had before," she said.
Women in the program must attend AA meetings, Bible study, group therapy and one-on-one therapy.
"I learned how to forgive, to let go of resentment, how to deal and cope and how to live life on life's terms," Raville said. "It totally changed me. I'm all around a better person, even better than before my addiction.'
Bonding occurs outside of the home, as well, since women work together in the Path of Grace thrift store. All of the money earned in the store supports Canaan Recovery. While women in the program help serve the organization that serves them, they are also building skills and work ethic.
"Most of us haven't had jobs in a while; it teaches you to get up and go to work every day," Raville explained. "We do all the pick-ups and deliveries. We'll show up at someone's house and they'll say they were expecting men, but they're impressed when we lift up those couches."
Charlie Earles founded the Canaan Recovery Foundation in the spring of 2007 with the help of John Crunk, after seeing an unmet need in the area. Since its inception, it has helped close to 50 women beat addiction. Many recovery programs such as Haven House and Waterfront Mission were only available to men, leaving women with little options. The Canaan Recovery Foundation gives women the opportunity to change their lives for the better. Women stay in the Path of Grace house for a minimum of six months and can continue in the program as long as two years. Although they are asked to pay a $600 upfront fee, women who do not have the funds are never turned away, said managing director Eddie Mansfield.
"We really cater to anyone," he said. "Our residents don't really want to leave and we love that fact because the longer they stay the better the chances are of them staying sober longer. It takes a long time to change."
Once a woman has stayed in the program for six months, she is entitled to a small amount of money to use at her disposal each month. Therapy, doctor visits, food and housing is all free to women in recovery. As the program progresses, the Canaan Recovery program sets up a savings account for each woman, so that when she graduates and leaves the Path of Grace home, she has something to start her life afresh with.
"We didn't always put money away," Mansfield explained. "We were able to start that about 18 months ago. So many women were leaving the program broke. As we saw the need, we learned. The program is always evolving."
Another evolution is the organization's purchase of transitional houses. Right now, the program has two. With these properties, families can be reunited while women are still receiving treatment.
"We love the fact that we helped Kristy get her kids back," Mansfield said. "I would like to see us building more transitional homes in the future."
‘A whole new way of life’
While Raville hasn't left the program yet, she has celebrated a year of sobriety in May. She's manager of the Path of Grace thrift store and, the best part, she's reunited with her family.
"Starting anew, I didn't know myself anymore," she said. "You have to learn a whole new way of life. I realize now my purpose in life is to be the best mother I can be to my children and that's why I'm still here. It helps me stay sober."
Raville has some short-term goals, like saving for a car, but in the future she'd like to go to cosmetology school to become a hairstylist. Even when she moves on from the Canaan program, she will always stay true to the Path of Grace.
"I'll always be connected, from volunteering at the thrift store — it's a huge part of my story," she said. "I don't know where I would be without Path of Grace, I could not have done it alone."