Teresa Bayer, who went through the Wayside House in-house treatment program, gives back a lot of time and energy to the center. She loves the monthly alumni meetings, when women stand to tell their emotional stories of recovery and sobriety. Bayer has been sober since September 2007. Photo by Jerry Lower By Emily J. Minor There’s a saying among the women who’ve been to Wayside House: God lives in these walls. And Teresa Bayer believes that, with every fiber of her heart. Broken and drunk, lost and waiting to be found, Bayer, 50, went through the Wayside House in-house treatment center in 2007 after the deaths of her mother and then her husband. Today, she is one of the thousands of graduates from this collection of homes and offices on Northeast Sixth Avenue in Delray Beach who continue to return and give back. The treatment center — there are inpatient and outpatient programs — was started in 1974 by Susan B. Anthony, the great niece of the women’s rights advocate. Jill Reece, the center’s executive director, came here to direct the center about five years ago. A licensed therapist and herself a recovering alcoholic, she remembers walking into the complex for the first time. “There is just a feeling in that house,” she says now. Pretty and comfortable with room for 23 resident women, women see counselors here, attend AA meetings and get job training. But perhaps, most of all, it’s the friendships with other women — Wayside takes no men —that helps to heal these addicts and alcoholics. Women arrive at Wayside’s in the worst of shape. They come from jail and prison or from their sleeping spot under a bridge. Many have lost their homes, their jobs, their savings, and their children. The center, which generally has a waiting list for its residential program, spends a lot of energy trying for healthy reunions between recovering mothers and their families, especially kids. “That’s really important to us,” Reece said. Bayer was no different. A professional woman who’s always worked high-end jobs — she once worked on Wall Street and did quite well — Bayer was swigging vodka from a water bottle, nipping even once she started going to AA meetings, lying to everyone. Then she got a bed at Wayside. “The unspoken power inside that house just knocked me off my feet,” she said. Bayer goes back often — recently for the center’s monthly alumni meeting when former Wayside residents stand to tell their often tearful stories of recovery and sobriety. Wayside is a nonprofit adventure with an annual budget of about $1.5 million. It gets its money from the Department of Children and Families, Palm Beach County and grants and donations raised through the board. In early March, it will have its annual trunk show at the Colony Hotel in Delray Beach. Supporters come by often to see the results of their fundraising, and they always leave inspired. “I knew from the moment I walked into that house that everything was going to be OK,” said Bayer, who has not had a drink since Sept. 25, 2007. “And I have not been proven wrong.” If you go: Trunk Show to benefit Wayside House Inc. March 9-11 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Colony Hotel, 525 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Vendors and artists from across the country will sell everything from crafts and jewelry to baby food and portraits. Preview Cocktail Party, 6-8 p.m. March 8, Colony Hotel. Tickets $50.
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