Mike McGaffney always wondered why he got to wake up from comas and drug overdoses while his brother didn’t.
In recovery, he’s learned his purpose: Helping others wake up from their own battles with addiction.
“I’m supposed to be here,” he says. “I’m staying clean hrough what I’m doing. I’m helping others, but I’m actually doing this for me too.”
What he’s doing now is managing for Steven’s Place, a sober living house in Pleasantville just taken over by Stop the Heroin.
The Egg Harbor Township-based group was started by Bill and Tammy Schmincke after their son Steven was found dead in their home of an overdose. Losing their son to his addiction has now turned into a mission to keep other families from suffering the same outcome.
Happy endings for others is what keeps the Schminckes going. And, although their son is gone, they are determined that his name will not die.
Steven’s Place is a reminder for everyone that this is why they’re doing what they do.
“This is what we wanted,” Bill Schmincke said as he stood with a paint roller in his hand, fighting back tears in one of the home’s five bedrooms. “It’s just the beginning. It’s just the first.
“Tammy and I miss Steven every day,” he added. “We can’t help him anymore. But with God’s help and love we can help as many as he puts in our path.”
That number surpassed 40 less than nine months.
Steven’s Place is getting its second resident Friday night, when it will also celebrate an open house from 6 to 9 p.m.
The public is asked to bring groceries to help stock the cabinets, along with toiletries and other necessities.
McGaffney is the live-in manager with a room in the basement. As someone in active recovery, he knows the difficulties. Sometimes things go well. Other days, there’s a struggle.
“Some days, the only thing I can do for my recovery is not to use,” he says.
But after seven rehabs, countless intensive outpatient programs, a 31-day coma and three overdoses during which he briefly died, McGaffney is ready to keep others on the road he took for good four years ago.
“I’m really looking forward to this,” he said. “The guys I went through Oxford House (recovery) with became my family. We formed bonds, went to meetings together, shared struggles. When live show up, we dealt with life’s problems together.”
Now, he’s looking to extend that family through Steven’s Place.
The public is invited to the open house from 6 to 8 p.m. at 17 Lehigh Ave. in Pleasantville. Donations can also be made through StoptheHeroin.org