Since 1975, Oxford House Inc. has been supplying a place of sober living to people struggling with addiction.
Oxford Houses are safe, supportive housing options for adults who are in recovery from alcohol and/or drug abuse. They are self-ran, self-supported and drug-free homes. Today there are over 2,100 Oxford Houses nationwide. There are over 10 Oxford Houses in the Memphis area.
If you’ve never heard of Oxford Houses before, here’s why.
“We practice attraction rather than promotion, so you’ll never see an Oxford House billboard or commercial.”
Meet Kayla Leinenweber, Outreach Specialist for the Oxford Houses of Memphis.
How did you get involved with Oxford House Inc?
I’m in recovery myself, I’m a recovering heroin addict. In 2013 I was homeless and I met Marty, who is now my co-worker, at an AA meeting. He was here from Louisiana to open houses. He had just gotten a contract with the state of Tennessee. I was a part of opening the first women’s house with two other women who were in a similar situation as me, and it kind of took off from there. I fell in love with it.
How did you get promoted to Outreach Specialist?
After we opened that first women’s house and it filled up, I sat down and read the Oxford House manual. It states that anyone can look for another property if there’s a waiting list, you don’t have to be employed by Oxford House. So I started a hunt for a second house and I opened it. Within two months or so, I was asked if I ever thought about doing it for a living and I was hired at that point.
What are some of your responsibilities?
I wear a lot of hats. I play property manager, peer support specialist, but my main job, the essence of it, is to expand the Oxford House concept in the areas that would benefit from our very cost-effective housing.
What sort of opportunities has Oxford House Inc provided for you?
I’ve had the opportunity to work with other people who are just like me, coming from all different walks of life. I have been able to see them get their lives back together, get their children back in their lives, and to feel useful again in society. At the end of the day, that is the only reason why I do this job. I don’t do it to get rich.
What’s next for you?
My next goal is to make sure that anyone who wants to be sober and change, has the opportunity to do so. It’s so hard to obtain funding for substance abuse and mental health, but Oxford House is unique because there’s not a whole lot that we have to go through in order to open another house. My goal is that there will be no person sitting on a waiting list anywhere.
Any closing thoughts?
Oxford House isn’t just me, it’s the residents who live in the houses. That’s the cool thing about it. Each person who lives in the house contributes to making sure that the door stays open for the next person. It really is like a pay-it-forward kind of concept and I think that’s why it works so well. I want to make sure that they get a shout out, because it would not be possible without them.
If you would like to become involved or donate to the Oxford Houses of Memphis, email Kayla.
Learn more about Oxford House Inc. on their website.