Recovering Addicts Looking For Mission Pay It Forward To Students In Need Of Technology

CBS4 News is featuring a special series of reports this holiday season called the 12 Days of Christmas. The following story is written by CBS4’s Jennifer Brice.

DENVER (CBS4) – A community battling addiction looking for a way to give back has found a great way to do it — by helping high school students with a need for technology.

“I had one more near run in with death,” said recovering addict Eric Lapp.

Lapp’s battle with addiction began as a teen. By his mid-20s he lost everything, including several homes that he owned. After multiple attempts at rehab and the near-death overdoses, Lapp finally kicked drugs and alcohol about 8 years ago.

CBS4's Jennifer Brice interviews Raleigh House CEO and owner Eric Lapp (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Jennifer Brice interviews Raleigh House CEO and owner Eric Lapp (credit: CBS)

“I had one house left over in the Highlands and it just organically started this little business,” said Lapp. “We’ve helped so many people through but every year we kept growing and growing.”

That little house in the Highlands, which started as a sober house, is now one of five locations to a thriving addiction treatment business called the Raleigh House. Lapp is the CEO and owner. He says kicking addiction often includes finding purpose.

“Addicts need to find purpose, finding a mission, finding something that makes them feel good because there are other ways to feel good in this world besides drugs and alcohol,” he said.

CBS4's Jennifer Brice interviews Raleigh House CEO and owner Eric Lapp (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Jennifer Brice interviews Raleigh House CEO and owner Eric Lapp (credit: CBS)

That’s why Lapp, along with volunteers and clients of the Raleigh House, began searching for a way to pay their success forward. Volunteer Jan Savat-Lynch says they decided to focus on students nearby at North High School. That’s where they found an overwhelming need for technology. Savat-Lynch approached the school about a contest.

“I think they were a little apprehensive at first, like, ‘Wow, is this for real?’” Savat-Lynch said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

She says they (Raleigh House) convinced the school that they do have a purpose in mind.

The Raleigh House wanted to donate 18 tablets so students could be connected for school work, even college admissions. Lapp says when he was younger, he didn’t realize his potential.

Anahi Orta and Jan Savat-Lynch (credit: CBS)

Anahi Orta and Jan Savat-Lynch (credit: CBS)

“I didn’t realize what all of us have inside and for these kids to have resources and someone say … ‘go get it’ … you can have anything you want,” he said.

The folks at the Raleigh House asked students to answer an essay about why they needed the tablet and 139 teens applied.

Anahi Orta is one of 18 students whose essay inspired the Raleigh House because of her career goals of wanting to become a nurse and her desire to achieve. Orta says a tablet isn’t something her family could ever afford.

Anahi Orta and Jan Savat-Lynch (credit: CBS)

Anahi Orta and Jan Savat-Lynch (credit: CBS)

“It was more either we pay the rent or the $300 toward a computer that you need,” Orta said.

Orta says there are a lot of North High students who say this was their only Christmas present because their families couldn’t afford to buy them one.

As for Lapp, paying it forward is not only part of the holiday season, but now a way of life, he says.

“Addicts and alcoholics are people, they’re not horrible people,” he said.

138 Recovering Addicts Looking For Mission Pay It Forward To Students In Need Of Technology

Orta says she’s thankful for being picked.

“Thank you, 100 times. It was really thoughtful and generous,” she said.

If you’d like to help the Raleigh House buy more electronics for local students, please contact them. They hope to grow their grassroots effort of supplying tablets and computers to students in need.

LINK: The Raleigh House

Jennifer Brice is a reporter with CBS4 focusing on crime and courts. Follow her on Facebook or on Twitter @CBS4Jenn.

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