The supporters and residents at the Chanlyut House celebrated a milestone Friday afternoon, for a two-year residential and job-training program that helps men change their past habits.
The Cook Inlet Tribal Council's Chanlyut program in Mountain View has grown from just a handful of men in 2007 to nearly 20 today. Now, in a new facility, it can help up to 50 men.
“It's a big step. It's not for the weak,” said program director Bill Tsurnos. “It takes a strong person to go through Chanlyut.”
They're men like Kenny Oder, who, at 14-years-old, started down the path of an alcoholic and drug addict. He went in and out of prison several times for multiple DWI’s. Then, in 2008, while behind bars, he said it dawned on him that he wanted to change.
“I made the choice to turn my life around,” said Oder. “It's hard, but Bill and all the gentlemen here at Chanlyut showed me what I needed to do, and that was doing the right thing.”
The Chanlyut program offers housing, food, and clothing for each resident. It’s based on the Delancey street model in San Francisco. Since it began in Alaska in 2007, it's helped more than 100 people.
The guys work at the program's 7 businesses, which include the Mountain View diner. All the profits go back into the Chanlyut. The goal is self-sufficiency, and they learn and teach each other. They also follow three rules: no alcohol or drug use, no threats and no violence.
Resident Stan Hall said he joined more than 2 years ago when he hit rock bottom as a drug addict. He’s graduating from the program on Saturday.
“Everybody in this house is living proof that people can change,” he said. “They just have to give it a chance and they can’t give up.”
As for Oder, he said his family and his three children are back in his life.
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