June 25th, 2024

Peer Support Mentorship Program giving hope for addiction recovery

By Tim Kalinowski on June 5, 2021.

Herald photo by Tim Kalinowski - Kii maa pii pii tsin (Kindness to Others) Renewal and Healing Centre peer support mentoring team of Cody Fox (left), Melissa Many Fingers-Healy, with son Nomadic, and Alvin Mills get set to head out on the streets to distribute water, encouragement and kindness to Lethbridge's vulnerable population earlier this week.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

The Kii maa pii pii tsin (Kindness to Others) Renewal and Healing Centre will be launching a new Peer Support Mentorship Program to reach out to the vulnerable members of the Lethbridge community, and encourage a path toward recovery and healing.
Kindness to Others founder Alvin Mills announced on Thursday he was asking two of his own former mentees to take on this important work in the community.
Cody Fox started drinking heavily and taking drugs when he was still a teenager, and for many years lived a life of addiction. The journey to recovery was hard, admitted Fox.
“I have been to treatment centres, detox, many times, but at the time I was going for other people, not for myself,” he recalled. “I was doing it for them just to make them happy.”
Last year his father, grandfather, brother and cousin all died in quick success due to various ailments associated with addiction. Seeing his brother and cousin’s now fatherless children at their funerals made him determined not to do the same to his two young ones.
“I finally said to myself this has to stop,” he remembered. “I took a look in the mirror. This time I did it on my own. I signed up for detox and treatment. You have to be strong. You have to want it.”
Fox credits Mills and Sage Clan leader Mark Brave Rock with helping him stay on his recovery journey, and for fueling his own determination to help others in the same situation he was once in.
“I am grateful to be able to tell my story and tell others to help them realize, ‘you can put that bottle down, put that pill down, put that pipe down,’ he said. “You don’t have to. There is a life out there.”
Melissa Many Fingers-Healy was once hopelessly addicted to opioids and living rough on Lethbridge’s streets. At eight months pregnant, Many Fingers-Healy decided she could not live this way anymore, and checked herself into detox at the Bringing Home the Spirit Detox Centre at Standoff. That’s where she met Alvin Mills.
She credits Mills with helping to keep her on the path toward recovery even when her days at the detox were hard.
“You have to have at least that one person who is going to help you,” she said. “You can use all the support you can get. When I was out there (living in addiction), there was hardly anyone out there to give me encouragement and support. Alvin was there.”
Many Fingers-Healy said Mills has inspired her to help others in the same way he helped her as a Peer Support Mentor with the Kindness to Others Renewal and Healing Centre.
“There are a lot of people who don’t have any hope at all, and sometimes it gives them hope to see me (recover),” Many Fingers-Healy said. “I always hear: ‘I want to do what you do.’ I always tell them you can. You can do it. You will. Don’t give up, and I am here for you. We’re here for you.
“It gives people hope there is a better life out there than what they are living right now,” she added. “Even though things are hard, they can do it. I know they can, and I have a lot of faith in everybody. I have lots of faith.”
Mills said he is proud of both of his former mentees, and was extremely pleased to see them now turning around and doing what they can to help others.
“Today is a very special day,” confirmed Mills. “I have my two peer support workers. They are a living testament to when one wants to get into recovery. They have been through hardship, they have been through adversity, and I have been fortunate enough to witness when they first started going through detox and all through the recovery. They started helping me, and I was always checking up on them and encouraging and talking to them. That’s when this idea of a mentor came in.”
Mills said it takes the kind of strength both Fox and Many Fingers-Healy have displayed to make a difference in this world.
“You can’t get a degree for what they went through,” he stated. “Their degree is from life itself. We don’t give up on anyone. We don’t give up no matter how many times you relapse, and one day they will find a way.”

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Seth Anthony

It’s always heartwarming reading about these success stories.