Winnipeg man who was homeless now helping others turn their lives around

WINNIPEG — After fighting his own addictions and turning his life around, a Winnipeg man who was once homeless is using his experiences to help others find their own way to healthy living.

In March 2020, Russell Lee Abraham opened his non-profit Accountable on Atlantic – a series of eight sober-living homes in the city.

“I just opened the doors March 1, 2020, with zero money but 100 per cent belief,” said Abraham. “We’re touching hearts. That’s what it’s all about.”

Seven of the homes are in Winnipeg’s North End and one in the West End. The homes provide a safe place for people who want to leave the life of addictions.

“With this adventure, I was able to find brothers who had the same compassion, same drive about the same input of saving our people,” said Abraham.

Members of the community are also ready to lend a helping hand.

Johnathan Meikle, the executive team lead of Strength In The Circle, has partnered with Accountable on Atlantic.

“While we offer programing, we see that it is important to have a roof over the head and food in the fridge in order to heal,” said Meikle.

Craig Lavand, the operations housing manager of Accountable on Atlantic, said it is the compassion and lived experience that is key to understanding the struggles people with addictions face.

“We need to all come together and unite for all of our people for a better tomorrow for our children,” said Lavand.

Abraham said he knows first-hand how hard it can be to make a change. For years, he struggled with additions, life on the street, and spent time in and out of jail.

“ I didn’t know how lost I was,” Abraham said. “I didn’t know how deep I was into the booze and drugs, violence and everything because no one ever taught me. No one took the time.”

He said he lived under a bridge in the city for a long time and it wasn’t until he met a childhood friend who offered to help Abraham that the change began.

“He asked me if I wanted to and he said he could help me,” Abraham said. “It was just like ‘what, you’re asking me? Like help me? That’s a choice?’”

After he took a night to think it over, Abraham said he decided to try, adding he knew he could always go back to the bridge. But years later, he said he hasn’t looked back.

Abraham said he is planning to open a sober-living home for women only in the next few months.

Addictions Foundation of Manitoba said that sober-living housing is a proven helpful step in the journey to sobriety. 

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