May 23, 2017
Like many people who work at Phoenix, issues relating to addiction are personal for Kim Brazil. Her mother died of alcoholism, and the same challenge faced others in Kim’s family. So, as she puts it, she feels close to the cause. “I grew up with alcoholism around me,” she says.
Even in the buttoned-down world of financing — she is a CPA, CGA — Kim takes time as a CFO to know the residents at Phoenix, and she appreciates hearing their stories. “I’ve been able to combine my financial expertise with a cause that’s near and dear to my heart,” she says.
When she started at Phoenix, some 15 years ago, the administration was in a warehouse and programs were running out of residential housing. Kim considers herself lucky to have been able to work closely with founders Michael and Ann Wilson, helping bring their visions into reality.
Now Kim is proud that what used to be treatment centre has expanded to become a facility that not only treats addiction but that also addresses a panoply of issues including homelessness, poverty, health and education.
She believes the success of the program comes from the way the organization listens to clients and puts their needs first. “They have a life history so their problems can’t be fixed in a 30-day cycle,” Kim says. “If they need to be here six months, they stay six months.” What could be seen as a “one-stop shop,” in fact, is carefully aligned with what clients need. “Everyone is a unique person with unique needs,” Kim says. “We’re not looking at everyone as needing the same amount of time. Some people need longer; some people need less.”
Although Phoenix is currently at capacity, staff — and residents — agree that the model works and that it could be expanded. “We need to offer it to a lot more people,” Kim says, envisioning different populations, such as women and families.
Recently, Kim was walking to her car and saw four residents building a picnic bench. It made her reflect on how Phoenix helps change people. “We’re bringing them in from destitute situations and giving them some hope for a future,” she says. “They seem so proud to be here. And so respectful – it’s genuine.”