Recovered addicts help build residence for homeless women

Residents of Harvest House and others who know the power of addiction are helping to renovate a building that will be a new centre for women working to get off the streets.

9-bedroom unit will give each woman a room of her own to help rebuild lives

Jason Muir is donating his time and carpentry skills to getting a new women's residence in Moncton in shape. Muir, a former addict, says he understands the importance of such housing in helping people get back on their feet. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

The house at the corner of Dominion and Park streets in Moncton is full of people who understand the importance of the work they are doing.

Almost everyone working Thursday to put the roof on the stripped house has first-hand experience with addiction.

"I was a drug addict for most of my life," said carpenter Jason Muir, who owns Muir's Done Right Carpentry. "I have seven years clean now."

When he heard Harvest House needed help, he jumped at the chance to be there. 

"It's such an amazing project, it needs to be done."

More than a shelter

When it is completed, the house will be a nine-bedroom residence for women who need a place to live, whether because of addiction or homelessness. Harvest House has beds for women in the shelter, but nothing like what Cal Maskery is envisioning for the new residence.

It's cold, but it's part of being a carpenter and it's part of giving back, and we're warm in heart.-  Jason Muir, volunteer

"You know, you come to a shelter, it's out of the cold, but it's eight beds in one room," said Maskery, the Harvest House founder.

"You're sleeping with seven other people, someone snoring through the night, someone getting up to go to the bathroom. So it's not the most quality place."

Maskery said this house will provide two important things to women who need help getting back on their feet: a room of their own and a community of support.

Volunteers are sealing up the house before more snow falls. Three residents from Harvest House's equivalent home for men are also working on the project. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

"Something they may not have had at home, or may have to earn back at home because they've burned some of their bridges in the past."

Harvest House is a faith-based organization, but Maskery said people participating in any of the programs don't have to be religious or share any religious beliefs. He said counselling and Bible study are available, but participation is optional.

Harvest House doesn't have enough money to complete the project, so Maskery called in favours to get the house sealed up before more snow falls. He said the New Brunswick Community College helped design the home, and former participants and people currently in addiction recovery programs are putting in hours of volunteer work.

"I'm excited to see some of the guys moving forward and learning new skills," said Maskery.

Cal Maskery, founder and executive director of Harvest House, says the new residence will have rooms for nine women. 'It’ll be a house for women trying to leave the streets behind.' (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Muir said he knows from experience, "that building will save lives, that building will be a safe secure place where they can get their feet back underneath them and start walking again."

Even with temperatures well below zero, Muir said, he and the crew are enjoying their work. 

"It's cold, but it's part of being a carpenter and it's part of giving back, and we're warm in heart."

Maskery said these nine beds will free up a number of spaces in the women's addiction recovery home. If enough money is raised and the weather holds out, Maskery hopes to have the roof on by Monday, and the house completed by early spring. 

About the Author

Tori Weldon

Reporter

Tori Weldon is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been working for the CBC since 2008.