Start Up Adastra Enterprises
I was the Executive Director of a non-profit called Crime Prevention Institute (CPI) working with folks returning to the community from incarceration. I did that for 6 years and still look back on it as my dream job. The agency did not survive the economic downturn that began in 2009, and closed its doors due to funding issues in 2011. I was grief stricken...and I still am. I've spent the last 4 years working in other fields, some of it in after school programming in public housing, some of it in county government, and some of it teaching at the UT School of Social Work.
About a year ago, I volunteered to coordinate end of life care for a former CPI client who had turned his life around and had 10 years sober, but whose body had given out, and whose family had given up. I was with him when he died, and I helped him get a funeral with military honors. He said to me, "You had a hell of a team there at CPI, if I had any money I would leave it all to you to restart CPI." And ever since then I've been banging on my laptop and meeting with people trying to figure out how. Because I did have a hell of a team with a hell of a mission and we did great work. And it's still needed. Finding a place to live and work when you've got a criminal record is damn near impossible....and if you can't live or work, how will you be successful?
But, it's time for me to rethink sustainability of that model and that work. A little non-profit highly reliant on government funds fell apart...and I don't see much evidence it would be any different today. What's needed is innovation and some private funds. So, I've decided to create a business...a for profit business...that will seek to provide opportunities for a second chance, a fair chance, for those who have stumbled and are trying to get it right. I want to provide sober living and employment opportunities for these individuals, and build small businesses that will eventually become private funding streams for some social work services that can help these folks stay sober, stay employed, seek treatment, address past trauma, and contribute to the community. It's called Adastra Enterprises, and it's first LLC is called Reagan's House, we will be providing a sober home to men and welcoming those who have trouble renting other places.
I am asking for help getting started. I can't provide a return on your investment, or a tax deduction, but I can offer my warmest gratitude, my sincere appreciation, and regular updates on my progress. Your investment in Adastra is an investment in me, an honoring of the death of my former client, and a gift to the community. We are all so fortunate and so many are not. The seed money will be used to get the house rented, furnished, and filled with residents who will pay rent and contribute to the house. Please donate absolutely any amount you can. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
It was MLK weekend in 2016 when a board member and alumni of Austin Recovery, who I met while networking and working on the plan for Adastra, called me and asked me to come and serve as Director of Operations there after a failed merger and major financial crisis. I told him I was working on Adastra and had a secure job and that job sounded like a total nightmare but that I would be happy to have coffee with him to see how else I could help. Well, 3 years later I'm the Executive Director at Austin Recovery and with the help of a resilient staff and supportive board, have led a turnaround of that agency. I have learned a lot in that time....
1. The business model I had in mind could work but not without some additional cash and infrastructure behind it, specifically a robust system of care for folks with substance abuse and mental health disorders.
2. What's needed in the community is not another sober home for those who can pay high rent, but more accessible and affordable health care options for those who cannot; so any housing opportunity will have to be subsidized, especially in Austin.
3. I said I would never be an ED again after CPI, but y'all, I'm in love with this agency and this mission. And it's pretty clear to me that it is a 5 year turnaround effort for true sustainabililty, so I'm definitely not finished here.
When I go back and read the comments from those of you who contributed to this project, I'm tearful....a little bit embarrassed that I couldn't pull it off, but really proud of what I pulled off instead, and also really proud of my village of folks who care--not just about me, but about doing the right thing to address these social issues. I've decided to let go of Adastra in the form I envisioned it and go full steam into Austin Recovery. My values and ethics and vision for hope and healing for those with these disorders is being fully utilized here. I'm going to take the money invested in this project and donate it to Austin Recovery--I firmly believe that's where it can do its best magic. Thank you for trusting me with your dollars and believing in my vision and goals. Each one of you has made a massive difference in this journey for me and I promise you the dollars will be well spent.
Big news! I got the opportunity to serve as Director of Operations at Austin Recovery....a long standing and important local non-profit. One of their goals is to add a sober living component to their existing continuum of care. Therefore, it will be a conflict for me to pursue sober living on behalf of Adastra. However, your contributions will not go to waste! I am still looking for a way to invest these funds for the same mission....only repurposing them into another potential economic opportunity for those with barriers...such as investing in a co-op property owned by formerly incarcerated, or potentially investing in a food truck to be staffed by those transitioning out. More to come as I continue to work and think on it. Please let me know if you have questions or concerns with this direction, and if so, if you would like your investment returned.
You are kicking ass, my friend. So proud to have walked a tiny bit of the journey with you. Can't wait to see what grows from here. xoxo
Glad to hear things are progressing nicely for you. Even though I don't like Obama, I do think that the remove the box thing you posted is a good thing. I hope you found a permanent location soon so you can get settled and kick some ass
Way to go, let me know if there is anything that I can do to help!