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Hollis pair give back to community

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"We're going to have to suspend him," Broady said. "Safety is primary. It you're intimidated you might as well be at Rikers Island. We can't have that here."Helen Broady just shook her head. "We could tell you thousands of stories," she said.Genesis Transitional Housing Ministries opened four years ago after Andre had a vision during a workshop at Allen A.M.E. Cathedral. Andre has been sober for 20 years. He has been a drug counselor for 16 years and a minister for four. During the workshop, Andre was asked to close his eyes and think back to some of the people he had left behind. He remembered rehab in the late 1980s and how a close, and at that time, nascent relationship with God had gotten him through his tribulations, including a positive diagnosis for HIV. He realized his calling was to create a program that would combine clinical drug rehabilitation with religion, giving patients the glue to move on with their lives and stay sober."Once someone has more understanding of who they are and why they are here, it's difficult to do these harmful things," Broady said. "Religion holds it all together."Broady is speaking from personal experience. Getting sober in the 1980s took a stint at rehab but also a religious awakening. Without religion, Broady said he would have killed himself either deliberately or with drugs. Now he and his wife, who has also been sober for 20 years, work to help residents of southeast Queens recover from drug addiction and alcoholism.Run out of a three-story home on Hollis Avenue, Genesis Transitional Housing Ministries currently has 18 beds. The residents spend a good deal of their day at Queens Hospital, learning relapse prevention techniques and being treated for anxiety and depression, which are common with recovering addicts.But the rest of their day is spent in Hollis, with group meals, housing meetings and Bible study. The idea, Broady said, is to create an environment that is safe and gives resident the peace of mind to not only recover, but to improve their lives."A lot of them come out of 28-day detox and go back to same neighborhood or an abusive spouse," Broady said. "In that situation, the recovery is not going to stick."Genesis is currently housed in a building the Broadys own and they also are renting space next door, with another 18 beds expected to be ready for new residents in a month or two. As with many nonprofits, the Broadys said, the constant struggle is funding. The Broadys have sunk deep into debt running their program and have so far been unable to find a constant source of funding. There has been some support from state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and St. Paul's Community Church in Harlem, but outside of private donations, the program has struggled financially."We're operating on faith right now," Helen said. "We have faith this is going to be the year we get a grant."Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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