Local News

Raleigh center offers refuge from substance abuse

Posted August 21, 2013

— Chef Chris Lawrence runs the kitchen at The Healing Place in Raleigh, where he feeds dozens of homeless men who are recovering from substance abuse.

He has something in common with them.

After 30 years of abusing drugs and alcohol, Lawrence arrived at The Healing Place seven years ago.

“I was scared. I had no hope,” he said. “At that point in time, I didn't want to live.”

Lawrence went through the rehabilitation program at the facility and got a job a year later. Then the Healing Place hired him to run the kitchen.

Chief Executive Officer Dennis Parnell says Lawrence is one of the many success stories. From cooking the food to teaching in the classrooms, the people getting help are also helping themselves.

About 70 percent of the clients who complete the program are sober a year later. Parnell says that's three times the national average for recovery programs.

“It's a hand-up, rather than a hand-out, program,” Parnell said.

Chef Chris Lawrence Healing Place offers refuge, rehab

Homeless advocates from Africa and Japan are visiting The Healing Place to learn why it works so well.

Parnell says it offers hope to the residents because they “see other people that have gone through the same experience.”

That's why Lawrence arrives at 5 a.m. every day, even though he doesn’t start working until 7 a.m. He spends a couple of hours visiting with residents at breakfast.

“I’m here to share my story with them to let them know that hey, what happened to me can happen for you,” he said.


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  • Rusty Shackleford Aug 23, 2013

    Awesome story!

  • BlueDevils00 Aug 22, 2013

    I really like this. Rehabilitation is more than just handouts and counseling. Providing work allows the person to feel accomplished, like they are productive members of society again. They feel a sense of self-worth, which many drug addicts and homeless people struggle with. I hope the best for them on their journey to sobriety. Once a person makes a conscious decision to change and is willing to put in the hard work and make the best decisions possible, sobriety can be achieved. Success stories like this show it can be done. Great job The Healing Place! Truly remarkable

  • belovedsparrow Aug 22, 2013

    “It's a hand-up, rather than a hand-out, program,” I like that. :D

  • Relic Aug 21, 2013

    I'd love to live somewhere myself where there's no substance abuse at all. It's refreshing to see a story about a positive effort that's had success and not just folks having charity and medicine thrown at them without addressing the emotional issues of substance abuse.

  • runsracks2 Aug 21, 2013

    Outstanding. That is how you help. I will be contributing to their work and I hope you will too.