Brandon addictions organization faces financial shortfall due to emergency building repairs

An organization in Brandon that helps people battling addiction hopes to open a new community space for those with substance use and alcohol addiction, but faces a major financial shortfall due to unexpected repairs.

Adult and Teen Challenge, which already operates a residential treatment centre just outside of the western Manitoba city, is renovating part of its downtown thrift store into a space where people can go for immediate help.

“It’s just going to serve the people that have no hope, that have no sense of direction in their life, to find hope, to find purpose, to find freedom in this space,” said Aaron Murray, the organization’s development director in Brandon.

Murray went through the program 10 years ago himself. Growing up in Binscarth, Man., he said there wasn’t much support for someone battling addiction. 

“I think that this is just an entry-level spot where you can get help, you can get hope immediately and you can start that journey,” he said. “Whether you go into our weekly support groups for men, women or families, or whether you enter our long-term programs for men and for women. 

“I think that the more resources, the better. And there’s not enough, in my opinion. So I think this is very crucial.”

Murray said as a new HVAC system was being installed last week, contractors made a disturbing discovery. An exterior wall in the warehouse connected to the building was caving in and needed immediate repairs. 

He said repairs are estimated to cost upwards of $100,000. Adult and Teen Challenge is appealing to the community for help funding the repairs. 

“It’s a little overwhelming, but I know that we have a lot of people in the community that support us, and so we’re just kind of calling on them at this time,” he said. 

More long-term services needed

Justice Hillscher would also like to see more resources brought to the community.

Hillscher, a recent graduate from the Adult and Teen Challenge program, was addicted to drugs for several years and couldn’t find any resources that she felt suited her needs. 

“There’s many programs out there,” she said, with her four-year-old son standing at her side.

“The majority of them are only 30 days, if if anything, two months max. That is not enough time needed to create a 360 change for your life,” she said. 

Justice Hillscher recently graduated from Adult and Teen Challenge’s long term treatment program. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

“That is maybe just enough time to become clean and sober. But being being so there’s so much more to just being sober, right? It’s completely changing your life, your behaviour, their lifestyle.” 

Murray believes the pandemic has also created a greater need. 

“People have just been isolated and they turn a lot of times to substance abuse,” he said. “I think that we’ve seen it more and more in our store and you know, most of our beds are full in our programs. 

“I think that the community office is going to be super important because not everyone can go into a long-term program. So people that need help just on a weekly basis, encouragement, that’s what the space is going to be great for.”

Aaron Murray says the building’s structural issues were discovered during recent renovations. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Murray is hopeful the organization can get past the structural issues soon.

“The community support here in Brandon has been insane,” he said. “It’s awesome.” 

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