Aaron Meyer was a typical young person, growing up near Madison, WI.
Sometime in the summer of 2003 Aaron began experimenting with marijuana. Within three months, the drug had consumed sixteen-year-old Aaron. His parents didn’t understand addiction nor did they know the full extent of Aaron’s situation. Determined to address what they perceived an “emotional growth” issue, Aaron’s parents sent him to Mount Bachelor Academy in Prineville, OR in December 2003. Aaron returned home in January 2005 a mature, humble, and peaceful soul. Aaron and his family were now aware of addiction. Fully aware.
Responsibility is the word Aaron used to describe his feelings on turning 18 on May 6, 2005. He had a plan for his immediate future: A) Return to Oregon to attend Bend Community College (B) Live with friends in recovery (C) Get a job (D) Attend recovery step meetings (E) Stay in touch with his emotional growth mentors. Aaron told his family, “We’ll help each other stay clean. It’ll work because nobody knows what we go through like we do.”
Aaron did not get the chance to put his plan into action. He died on May 10, 2005 while helping another young man in recovery. Clean and sober, in the middle of the day, Aaron died in an innocent one car accident 2.8 miles from his home. He was on his way to pick up a friend to give him a ride to a job interview.
Aaron’s seed of an idea did not die with him that day. The seed was planted and nourished by friends, family, professional recovery counselors, and others who recognized the potential in Aaron’s peer support idea. The Aaron House in Madison, WI opened in August 2007. Since then many men have lived there and helped each other stay clean and on track. At any given time, four men have lived there and walked side by side with a House-Mentor who knows recovery is a lifetime commitment and practices one day at a time with the student-residents.
As a part of this peer-support model, the Clinical Director at Aaron’s House has helped the young men formulate Personal Lifestyle Plans with the cooperation of people in their lives who they trust. These are highly individualized plans. Evidence shows sober living is enhanced with peer support, mentorship, making recovery a priority, personal growth, and spiritual growth. The multiple avenues for each are explored by the student-residents with expert guidance.
As a result of the success at Aaron’s House, a women’s house was opened in August 2015. Grace House is the female counter part to Aaron’s House and it houses up to four student-residents and a live-in house mentor. Like Aaron’s House, it creates a safe environment that protects sobriety and nourishes the ladies’ recovery.
A person who comes to Aaron’s House or Grace House can do so with no more personal items than he or she can fit in a back-pack. All that is needed is a willingness to change an address, and grow in sobriety. With sobriety, the young men and women will have choices to recover.
The Aaron Meyer Foundation network of people stretches across the country. The commitment level of those supporters is deep. The potential for connecting a student-resident who is committed to sobriety is unlimited. By embracing the choices only present in sobriety, days at Aaron’s House and Grace House may be the most peaceful time in the lives of young men and women in recovery.
You have my promise; it works if you work it. I know from my experience.
Tom Meyer, Aaron’s Dad