Stories Restoring Hope
The Friends House, located in Rockland, Maine, is a recovery-focused residence and sober-living environment for men from all over the state. The Friends House was founded in 2018 with the mission of providing a substance-free and caring environment in the community where men could live, work, and connect with one another as they navigate recovery.
Kevin Wayne Nibbey Goodridge has lived at The Friends House for five-and-a-half months. He lives there with several other men in recovery, and his ten-year-old daughter. Being a supportive and present father is important to Kevin, who advocated for his daughter to be the first child allowed to live at The Friends House. “She knows everyone by name, and they all watch out for her.”
Although Kevin can see that having a ten-year-old girl as a resident of an all-male sober-living home might be received negatively by some, he believes part of this negativity is a consequence of stigma around addiction. “Just because people are addicts doesn’t mean they are predators,” he says. Kevin takes care to always be present when his daughter interacts with others, just like a father would in any other environment. “Women in a sober house would be able to have their kids without question; it makes sense that a father should be able to do the same.”
Kevin attends recovery meetings daily, often with his daughter by his side. She is supportive of the programming that helps him be present in her life and sober. Kevin credits the structure and support that meetings provide with allowing him to stay sober and stay active as a father. “You have to put your recovery and sobriety first, before everything, so you can show up for everyone in your life,” he says. Kevin’s daughter says that her favorite thing about her father is that, “He’s really funny. And he plays Barbies with me.”
Before arriving at The Friends House, Kevin spent years dealing with addiction in its many forms. Abuse in his childhood left him without stability or a sense of security, and by age nine he was drinking and using marijuana. At 14 he was running a gang, dealing drugs, and getting in trouble with the law. At 15, after an ultimatum from his parole officer, he went to a boy’s home in Fort Fairfield. “It saved my life,” he says. The home became a sanctuary for Kevin, and he thrived for three years. After he left at 18, he relapsed.
The following years were heavily impacted by both drinking and drug use. He met a woman who he married, and had three children with her. Their marriage, however, was strained by closet drinking and run-ins with the law. Fast forward to 2021, and Kevin was in an ankle monitor, on probation, and desperate for a change of environment that would support him in getting the help he needed. He had success maintaining periods of sobriety, but knew he needed more community. In moving to the Friends House, he found it.
The first thing Kevin did after his move was dive into recovery meeting programming. He attended 90 meetings, 90 days in a row. Things didn’t change immediately, but along the way something clicked. “Once things took off, I realized it was possible to stay clean,” he says. “My obsession to use went away. All of these little changes started happening to me, like sparks that sustain me throughout each week and month. And all those sparks collected and turned into a fire.”
This fire in Kevin has ignited a passion for helping others that stretches farther than the walls of The Friends House. Kevin is active in the local recovery community and hopes to soon go into local jails to meet people where he once stood, to offer them structured connection and support as they navigate recovery. He also hopes to speak in local schools to educate young people on why addiction is a disease. “The younger crowd needs to understand that addiction is so much more than just drinking or doing drugs,” he says. “And if they understand they will bring that message home to their families. You have to help the up-and-coming generation.”
Kevin works at the Rockland Hannaford and loves his job. He is thankful to work for a company that respects his scheduled commitment to recovery meetings. Employers around the state can also create recovery friendly environments by honoring these commitments.
Kevin believes strongly that his recovery community and attending meetings will always be a part of his life. He is excited by the prospect of finding a place to live with his daughter, and hopes to settle in the Bangor region, near the Bangor Area Recovery Network. As most Mainers know, finding housing is no small feat for anyone these days.
This challenge is even greater for individuals in recovery, who may have drug charges or experience judgment by landlords and employers. It is Kevin’s hope that communities will open their minds and hearts to those in recovery. “Instead of pushing someone away, hold out a hand,” he says. “Take a chance on people.”
Since moving to The Friends House, Kevin says he has regained a sense of self-confidence, humility, self-awareness, and integrity. “I never thought I’d be good enough, be a good dad, or be a member of society again. Now I want to be that burning light people who are lost can see. So, they can see that they too can get back what they’ve lost.”
No two recovery stories look the same. If you believe you have a problem with substance use, reach out for help.
Call 211 for resources in Maine. For a list of local recovery meetings visit: https://csoaamaine.org/meetings/ and https://namaine.org/ meetings-by-table/