Melrose Oxford House to hold fundraiser dinner

The Melrose Oxford House on Ash Street will welcome the public at a spaghetti dinner Saturday.

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WALLA WALLA -- A home that helps its residents stay clean and sober is announcing its presence in the Valley with a spaghetti dinner fundraiser Saturday.

The Melrose Oxford House, 574 Ash St., will hold the dinner from 4:30-7 p.m.

The house invites anyone with healthy appetite for some Italian pasta and willing to meet the seven residents and support them in their efforts to start a new life in the community.

Open since May this year, the Melrose Oxford House is the second Oxford house in the Walla Walla Valley.

The mission of the houses is to provide a "safe" environment and support for men or women willing to stay clean and sober in their rehabilitative efforts from alcohol and drug addictions. Oxford Houses are always democratically self-run and self-sustaining, aiming to create a free, comfortable and respectful atmosphere for all residents.

Started in 1975 in Silver Spring, Md., in 2008 there were already more than 1,200 Oxford Houses in the country, and there are about 9,500 current residents.

"It's a safe refuge where we all, as a group, keep each other away from relapse. Oxford house is all about starting again," said Dick, a resident of the Melrose Oxford House, who like other residents gave only his first name for privacy reasons. Dick is a retired security guard who works as a custodian in a public school. Among the other residents there is a Vietnam War veteran, a student at Walla Walla Community College, a construction worker and an equipment operator.

"I have lost two wives because of alcohol, and I know that another sip will mean a day less of living. Here I find support and understanding to go on" said Ed, another resident.

The seven residents in the Melrose Oxford house have been seeking their place in the community by volunteering in local charity organizations such as Blue Mountain Action Council, Habitat for Humanity, Blue Mountain Humane Society and Youth Athletics. Being just next door to Helpline Women's Emergency Shelter, the Melrose residents have been helping and volunteering at the shelter various times. They will help prepare a Thanksgiving feast at Helpline.

"Respect in the community comes with time and effort on our part. For this opportunity we would like to thank the Walla Walla Valley with a spaghetti dinner," house residents wrote in their official invitation. "Our experiences differ in severity and magnitude, yet we, at Melrose Oxford house, share a common bond: we have found a place in which our combined experiences benefit each other."

"Many people here in Walla Walla don't know about the Oxford house. We've been trying to get our name out in the community by volunteering. The spaghetti dinner is our way to reach out, to educate people about the Oxford House concept, to invite people to visit the house and meet us, and spread the word to those in the community who might benefit from a clean and sober house" said John, another resident.

The spaghetti dinner is a fundraiser and those who are willing to make a donation can make it by mail or in person during the event this Saturday.

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