Orland – Meet Glenn Myers: wily entrepreneur and benevolent volunteer, bubbling over with do-good empire-building schemes and dreams, planning to open a sober living house in Orland.
“I get high off this,” he jokes. “But there’s no downside.”
If a Red Bluff recovery house run by former Orland junkie Jason Gray is in toddlerhood, and a Willows sober living house is in infancy, then this baby is in embryo.
The future is hopeful if ethereal – but does Mr. Myers ever have plans.
One day after Mr. Myers closes on the house – which he bought by refinancing his own – he mentions future plans to pull the equity out and plug it into another house for abused women.
He plans to redo the bathroom, put in 550 square feet of tiles, pull up the carpet, put in sidewalks and gutters, put in an office, and make the house ADA compliant, all at a cost of seven to 10 grand. And he predicts that they’ve have the house open in a month, something his girlfriend and fellow organizer Sue McDonald smilingly disagrees with.
“He doesn’t have a clue,” comments girlfriend and fellow board member Sue McDonald.
“But I know it’s the right thing to do,” responds Mr. Myers. “I’m going on blind faith.”
He plans to feed to house, and is trying to do so by getting a delivery service that would get packages of food to the house. Except the delivery service would cost $40,000 a month, for 1700 packages – far more than Mr. Myers could use. So he plans on going to Salvation Army and getting them to help out.
Paying rent could be a big problem for residents, so Mr. Myers is planning on providing jobs for them. He had plans and approval to provide concessions at Thunderhill and the Glenn County Fairgrounds, and all he needed was a catering trailer. Then the day after closing on the house, Mr. Myers was at juvenile court providing support for his son when he met Sandra Foxx, a 60-year-old woman providing in-home care. Ms. Foxx, who used to deal drugs, was eager to help. Explaining his plans to her, Ms. Foxx pipes up with the news that she knows a Chico pastor with a suitable trailer.
“When you came up to me, you told me you thought God sent you there,” said Mr. Myers. “You tell me you’ve got a catering trailer? (Then) I know He did!”
In one sense, Mr. Myers’ crew will be complementing the efforts of county departments.
But through the group’s volunteer efforts and organization, for the same cost as government programs, Unity in Recovery clients will get lots of extra service: housing and a living-on-site manager, and perhaps even food.
Mr. Myers’ program costs $450 per month, and provides housing, an on-site manager, the support of other residents, and requires three group meetings a week, about 13 per month.
In contrast, consider a program coordinated by Alcohol and Drug Services’ Karen Dexter, planned if grant money comes through. Ms. Dexter’s program would involve would cost the federal government $444 per month per person. Her target population is slightly different – co-occuring mental health and substance abuse cases, and her scope is larger: an anticipated 150 people over three years.
But the program would provide the same 13 meetings a month; and though a quarter of the meeting will be one-on-one with a licensed therapist, Ms. Dexter anticipates only about half of clients will attend all meetings.
The group is volunteering their time, and voluntarily staying on their current trajectory.
They worry about being able to keep a functioning board, mentioning past members and associates that have drifted away.
Of Amy, a former drug court graduate that’s relapsed: “I know she’s kicking herself harder than anyone else,” said Sue McDonald.
Of Tina, a former board member: “She went back to her boyfriend...she’s not making the right choices, but that’s okay,” Ms. McDonald says, noting that that the choice was Tina’s.
Crafting the rules, there’s a thin line between too-tough love and too much forgiveness.
“You don’t want to say one (dirty test), bam you’re gone,” said Mr. Coyle. “It could be the one relapse that lifts you up.”
From an early draft of rules, Mr. Myers has dropped rules, like no cell phones and a requirement that residents account for all money earned with receipts.
This isn’t just an empire in embryo, it’s also a network, and has the smell of a grand anti-drug alliance.
The group is getting help and support from the community: Mr. Coyle is throwing in an antique table he says he has no use for; Orland supervisor Tracey Quarne is donating tiling
The contractor who’s doing work on the sidewalks and gutters offered to throw in labor for the garage free, as well as let Mr. Myers do flooring work under his license.
“And if he does that, I’ll hire him to do my driveway,” says Beth xxx, another board member.
They’re also connected with other, similar houses.
Mr. Coyle, who helps to run the new sober living house for men in Willows, is on the board. Mr. Myers is in regular communication with former Orland junkie Jason Gray, who runs a sober living house in Red Bluff. Both Mr. Coyle and Mr. Myers have taken many of their rules from Mr. Gray.
“I was going to do (a house for) men, but you guys really helped us out,” Mr. Myers tells Mr. Coyle.
Mr. Myers refers to the Glenn County: Not in Our Town anti-drug organization.
“Jim Bettencourt is working on the kids,” he says. “We’re working on the parents.”