Eric Rasor and Victoria Meredith run a non-profit in Keizer designed to help people in substance abuse recovery transition to normal life.

Drug and alcohol addiction ruins people’s lives, but that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. With the right kind of assistance, at the right time, almost anyone’s life can be turned around and put back on track.

Victoria Meredith and Eric Rasor

Keizer couple Eric Rasor and Victoria Meredith are providing just that kind of assistance to people in Marion County who are recovering from substance addiction. They have been operating Soaring Heights Recovery Homes since 2018, offering transitional housing and peer support to people already in a recovery or treatment program.

“We work with community agencies who can provide the services that we need to bring them in,” said Rasor, president of the Soaring Heights non-profit, which operates two homes in Keizer and Salem. “For example, we might have somebody that came from Bridgeway (Recovery Services). So they are doing treatment with Bridgeway in Salem, but they have a safe, secure environment to live in with us. “

The Keizer home, which they dubbed the Oriole House, is transitional housing for women. One of the goals is to reunify parents with children who might be in custody or who have been taken away from the parent as a result of their prior conduct.

“I was a mother, a wife, my husband bought a home – we both had careers,” said Amy Bauldree, a former resident at Oriole House. “I had a lot of medical issues – I was put on pain management … that became an addiction, and I began using heroin.”

“My addiction just got worse and worse,” she said. “We ended up losing our home. I ended up losing my son to my mother, my husband — we got a divorce, I lost everything. “

At the lowest point in her addiction, Bauldree was diagnosed with heart failure as a result of heroin and methamphetamine use, and she nearly died. Then she discovered Soaring Heights and the Oriole House.

“I was able to have the support of other women in learning how to live again, how to be responsible, and it helped save my life,” said Bauldree, who worked as a house leader at Oriole during her own transition. “I got my son back, I live in my own place now, I have a job – I’m a functioning adult in society. It’s been a long road to clean all that up but it’s been worth it. “

Success stories like this are the reason Rasor and Meredith continue to do this work, but not the only one.

“We both have a history,” said Rasor. “We both struggled with addiction for a lot of years. We both found a time in our life where we wanted to change how we were living and we were in a position to try and give back. “

Meredith, who has 13 years of experience as a drug and alcohol counselor and certified recovery mentor, said the work she’s doing with Soaring Heights is part of her own, on-going recovery.

“It’s absolutely part of my recovery,” she said. “That’s part of how you do it.”

“When you have people in your life who support and advocate for you, you begin to believe in yourself once again and can accomplish what seems to be impossible,” said Meredith.

“One of the biggest turning points in my life was when my daughter was born,” said Rasor. “That’s when I chose to change my life. We both know how much better life can be, free from drugs and alcohol. We understand the challenges – what we’re trying to do is walk beside these individuals and help them navigate the barriers. “

Meredith was forced to retire for medical reasons but continues to help oversee the two homes. Rasor has a full-time job as an estimator and project manager for a local civil engineering company, which means he’s splitting time between that and managing the full-fledged 501c (3).

“We have a board (of directors) and everything now,” said Rasor. “Right now, we’re just trying to get the support and funding to open our third house. When this all started, we funded the opening of these houses with our own money. “

Soaring Heights operates on a fee-based model.

“So if you move into the house, you’re going to pay shared living expenses,” said Rasor.

“They have to be on food stamps or have a job,” added Meredith. “If they’re not working, they have to go out looking for work and they have to have five contacts per day. They’re also required to be in a treatment program for 30 days, and they have a curfew in the beginning. “

More than 50% of the Soaring Heights residents came directly from the streets, according to Rasor.

“Some of these people may not have worked for 10 years, so there is a lot of focus on goal-setting and life skills,” said Meredith.

“That’s one of the things that’s changing,” explained Rasor. “For years, the model was to get people from the recovery step to being in their own home, and it was largely unsuccessful because you need that transition stage, you need the peer support you get from living in a home for a period of time with other people facing the same struggles. “

“Our end-goal is to help these people become independent so they can reintegrate back into society with the tools they need to succeed,” he added.

Between the management of the houses and his regular job, Rasor doesn’t get a lot of down-time, and with plans to open a third home this year or next, it’s not going to get easier any time soon.

“I wear two hats -,“ said Rasor.

“He wears a lot more than two,” interrupted Meredith.

“I could really use an accountant to do my books, that kind of thing,” he said. “There are lots of ways people can help, from just being supportive of what we’re doing to helping us fund it,” said Rasor. “We need the funding, and we welcome whatever help the community can give.”

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