Anita Roper has been sober for 11 years.
Now she is trying to help others — particularly veterans — stay sober.
“When I got sober, I wanted to give back and help somebody else get on the right track, but I wasn’t sure how I would do that,” said Roper, 55. “Then, about six years ago, the Lord put it on my heart to start a sober house. At first, I thought it would be for women, but it became clear that it was to be for veterans.”
Today, Roper is on her way to fulfilling her mission at 851 Work Drive in West Akron. She purchased the brick, two-story, two-family dwelling in December for $14,000. In January, she began renovating and remodeling the four-bedroom, three-bathroom house with the help of her church family at Macedonia Baptist Church in East Akron.
Members of the church donated furniture and provided skilled, in-kind services to get the house ready for its first tenant, who moved to the house in July.
That tenant, Mitchell George, came to the house — called “Anita’s Lifetime of Success”— from the Haven of Rest. George, a Cleveland native and U.S. Army veteran, saw a flier advertising rooms for rent on a message board at the Christian mission in Akron.
“I was looking for a small room while waiting to be approved for Section 8. When I called Anita, she had such a helping spirit,” said George, 50. “A couple of people warned me that the neighborhood wasn’t very good, but when I went over to see the house, I found it to be a regular neighborhood. The house is quiet and clean and Anita makes sure everything is conducive to gearing you to stay sober.”
George, who moved this week into a Section 8 property in North Akron, said Roper’s sober house was just what he needed to keep him on the path of sobriety that he has been following for more than a year. He said any veteran who is serious about staying sober can find support at the house.
“Anita is key. She understands what you need to stay sober, and she always lets you know that you are not alone,” George said. “She is there to help in any way that she can. She’s always available. She makes sure you don’t go hungry and she is willing to share her own testimony as inspiration that you can live a sober life.”
Roper, an Akron native, said she is not proud of her past drug addiction and criminal record, which includes drug abuse, drug possession, grand theft and aggravated trafficking. But she is not ashamed to share her story to encourage or inspire someone else.
“God is the head of my life today, and I’m just grateful and thankful to him for what he has done. I know that I have been blessed, and I have to stay focused and always look forward,” Roper said. “I’ve been through a lot. I’m one of 10 children, and I’m the only one left. My family is gone, but I have a church family that loves and supports me.”
Roper’s pastor, the Rev. Lorenzo Glenn, said the congregation is proud of her accomplishments. He said it is important for the church to support Roper because she is living out the gospel mission.
“She turned her life around, and now she is reaching back to help others. As her church family, we want to support her in every way that we can,” Glenn said. “She is working to help people who are in need, and we are so proud of her example.”
Roper, who completed drug rehabilitation programs at Interval Brotherhood Home and Legacy III, said she is doing what she believes God wants her to do.
“All [six] of my brothers were veterans. They are my inspiration. I know they’re looking down on me,” said Roper, fighting back tears. “I think when people serve their country, they should be taken care of. I see so many veterans who are struggling and broken, and I want this house to be a place of comfort and love.”
Roper can be reached at 330-379-0146 or 330-524-5277. The cost of rent is based on a sliding scale.