140619_HER07_29Jay Davidson

Age: 71
Hometown: Louisville
Cause: Helping homeless drug addicts and alcoholics

When alcoholism threatened to end Jay Davidson’s successful 20-year career military career, he turned his life around with help from Alcoholics Anonymous support groups. Davidson eventually retired from the military with high honors, went back to school, and, at age 50, became a social worker. When Davidson saw how many homeless people suffered from alcoholism and drug addiction, he decided to bring the AA social support model to a shelter environment; in 1992, he opened The Healing Place. The free, six-month program gives people a place to live while going through treatment. It also provides life-skills training, such as job prep, budgeting and GED programs. It has 4,000 graduates. According to the University of Kentucky, which keeps stats on the program, The Healing Place has a 75% success recovery rate (sober one year after completion of the six-month program) that is five times the national average. Fifty-two percent of the alumni are employed a year later. The state of Kentucky modeled its Recovery Kentucky initiative after The Healing Place, opening 10 centers across the state.

Says Davidson:

The Healing Place works because of accountability. People are with each other 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We raise the bar and give them the tools and vision to do better.”

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