Bridge House Grace House helps homeless, uninsured addicts for 60 years

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Ashely Fowlkes is a manager at Mojo Coffee House on Freret Street. She says life is good. She just got promoted. She’s a new mom, with a loving husband -- and she’s alive.

She battled alcoholism for years, starting drinking when she was just 13 years old. Then in 2012, she became addicted to another substance.

“Around 32, I picked up an IV drug habit where I was using heroin up to five times a day, towards the end of it,” Fowlkes said.

It took a very sobering event in 2014 to get her where she is now. Ashley crashed into a parked car on Magazine Street and flipped her car on its side.

“My mom showed up and I told her 'mom I have a drug problem,' and she said 'OK, we’ll do this together,'" Fowlkes said.

She called places around the city for help, but they were expensive or couldn’t get her in right away. She had no idea what to do, until she heard about Bridge House-Grace House.

“I got clean and my brother was asking for help for me and they said there’s this program, it’s a residential facility and it’s free,” she said.

Fowlkes went in for an assessment, drug screening test, and Grace House admitted her the next day.

“That’s a miracle, women die before they ever get into a treatment facility sometimes,” she said.

And Grace House proved to be the miracle she needed.

“For the next 7 months and 10 days, I went through group therapy, one on one individual therapy, we had family sessions. I put myself there and I was willing to do as they asked – maybe – they have success stories – maybe I could be one of those,” she said.

Bridge House was created 60 years ago to help homeless and uninsured addicts. Kevin Gardere, their Director of Development, says they have seen a rising number of clients addicted to heroin.

“Forty-nine percent of the people we are seeing that are coming through our doors are addicted to heroin...it’s killing people,” Gardere said.

But Bridge House Grace House provides the proper tools so addicts can beat their habit and get back to a normal life, helping them sort out emotional challenges, find employment, and most importantly, providing unconditional love.

“There’s always a second chance, you know?" Fowlkes said "They don’t care where you came from, or what you did. Some woman would show up to Grace House in shackles. And nobody batted an eye. This one woman – she told me ‘Ashley, I have done this 4 or 5 times now, my family has cut me off.’ And I told her but this family hasn’t. Grace House is family too."

For more information on Bridge House Grace House, go to bridgehouse.org