U-Turn started at a kitchen table. Now the addictions group is home in Carbonear

The biggest room in Jeff and Tammy Bourne's old basement office was normally packed full — a small table, a few chairs and a couch filled the dimly-lit space.

Jeff and Tammy Bourne shown strong support after being denied space in nearby Victoria

Jeff and Tammy Bourne started U-Turn seven years ago from their kitchen table. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

The biggest room in Jeff and Tammy Bourne's tiny basement office was normally packed full — a small table, a few chairs and a couch filled the dimly-lit space.

Jeff has stark memories of one night, when about 45 people were crammed so tightly, they spilled into the hallway.

It was far more than the fire marshal would allow, no doubt, but these people needed help. 

They had all been affected by addiction and were there to take part in the Bourne's addiction drop-in program, called U-Turn.

The Bournes, who are in recovery from their own addictions, have experienced a life's worth of heartbreak, bearing witness to the devastating consequences of drug abuse.

They look through the obituaries and notice familiar faces. They are often called on late at night when tragedy strikes.

But they don't have to worry about those cramped crowds anymore — not with their new home in Carbonear.

"I never dreamed it in a million years," Jeff Bourne says, looking around a much larger, brighter space just seconds down the road from the former location.

"For me, I started recovery back in 2005, U-Turn kind of stemmed from our kitchen table then went to the trunk of my car, then we got an office space, but I never, ever dreamed we would be in a 1,700 square-foot building, doing what we do."

The provincial government earmarked funds for U-Turn, an addictions drop-in centre, in the 2018 budget.

The Department of Health and Community Services also provided $55,000 to help the husband and wife team move from from their small location on Powell Drive to their much larger space on Industrial Crescent. 

U-Turn 'instrumental'

During the month of June, the Bournes counted 730 visitors to U-Turn. Some of those could be the same people returning multiple times.

"We have so many people in the town who wants to come by and help. There's a lady that cooks a meal every Tuesday and she brings it in," Tammy Bourne said of the support the group has gotten. "And we're full here on Tuesdays."

The Bournes say they appreciate the support they've received in Carbonear.

Last year, the couple suffered a set back when the nearby Town of Victoria voted in a rare plebiscite against their proposed transition house.

A former seniors home, the donated space was intended to be for people who are released from rehabilitation but aren't quite ready to move home. It's a space, the Bournes say, is sorely needed in the province. 

Cassandra Walsh-Flood found solace at U-Turn, and is a regular visitor to the drop-in centre. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

​As the Bournes lead a CBC crew around the building for a tour, Cassandra Walsh-Flood opens her arms wide and explains that she always greets people with a hug. 

She began coming to U-Turn five years ago, but says her mother encouraged her to meet Jeff Bourne earlier after learning about what he was trying to start in the community.

"I come steady. They're here every day. They have a drop-in centre, there's always people here, they have meetings every night of the week, and in the day too."

She sums up U-Turn in a word — instrumental.

"There are so many broken people out there with so many different addictions and they have no support systems," Walsh-Flood said.

"So Tammy and Jeff, being the healers that they are, brought such a warm, loving centre available to everyone."

U-Turn will officially celebrate its new location at a ceremony in August. 

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Ariana Kelland

Investigative reporter

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's. She is working as a member of CBC's Atlantic Investigative Unit. Email: