We are the operators of The Lighthouse sober living residence in New Canaan.
The Lighthouse was conceived as a solution to a very specific need. A place where professional men could go after treatment to be immersed in sober fellowship and surrounded by a supportive community. A place that helps support the transition back to work and allows families time and space to build a solid foundation for recovery. The Lighthouse has the goal of being the gold standard in sober living. We were founded as a business. Margaret Thatcher once said, “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.”
Our business plan has three simple components:
- Integrity—what we say we are going to do, we do;
- Respect—A deep respect for the privacy of our clients; and
- Results—If our clients succeed, we will succeed.
Lighthouse opened its first house in January 2016 and reached capacity in October. Our clients have done very well and our neighbors have had no cause for concern. As demand for our services increased, we made the decision to look for another house in a bordering town. On Jan. 3, we set up our second residence in New Canaan.
We are a small group, founded by Trey Laird and myself, who have done extensive research on sober living. In the past three years, we have consulted with several local healthcare providers, community groups, legal experts, government officials, real estate brokers, business experts and service providers. We understand, respect and have followed all the laws that affect us.
We are open and transparent with our information, have answered every question and made ourselves available to communicate.
We at the Lighthouse are sensitive to the concerns of our neighbors and could have better handled the communication about our transition into New Canaan. We regret the discomfort this has caused and apologize for our part in it.
We look forward to working with town officials to address the valid concerns of the community and to agree on guidelines that will promote the safety and health of our clients and our neighbors.
My name is Tony Kiniry and I am in long-term recovery. After graduating college in 1981, I got a job as a clerk in a securities firm in New York City, married my college sweetheart and moved to Brooklyn. I was given an expense account and entertained three nights per week. My career and my life progressed nicely. I worked hard, had our kids, became a Managing Director of a major global bank and moved to New Canaan.
Bringing up kids in New Canaan was an amazing experience for our family. The kids swam for the YMCA, my son played lacrosse and my daughter won three state soccer championships at NCHS. We joined a wonderful church, with a world-class youth group. My kids were editors of the high school newspaper and yearbook.
Life was terrific, until it wasn’t.
While my career and life was progressing, so was my drinking and it soon turned into alcoholism. Life in our beautiful house on Weed Street became a nightmare, with an emotionally absent dad and terrified kids. Alcohol brought me to a place of “incomprehensible demoralization.”
Then in September 1997, a miracle happened. One Wednesday morning on the 6:20 a.m. train to the city I sat next to my friend, Jimmy Cleaver. Hung over and smelling of alcohol, I heard Jimmy say, “Man, you look awful.” He was right. I responded, “I don’t get it, Jim. I have a great job, nice house, three cars and my wife says she wants a divorce.” Jim asked how much I drink, and I lied and told him, “about three drinks a night.”
Jimmy wisely pointed out, “Things are going to get much worse for you and here’s what you are going to do… You’re going to stop drinking; you’re going to work and then home to those kids. Then you are coming to my house on Monday and you are going to tell me how it’s going.”
I was so desperate and lost, I did what he told me.
Turned out Jim’s wife was in recovery and she brought me up the hill into a “small but growing circle of friends” that shared with me how to get sober and stay sober. That was Sept. 12, 1997. All they asked in return was to stay sober and help others.
It was too late for sobriety to save my marriage.
The lawyers told me not to move out, and the tension in the house was awful. Thank God for my New Canaan church, the recovery meetings in town, Lydabel Pollard and Pastor Skip. I had a place to go. Also, gratitude to the moms that reached out to my kids and the supportive community that allowed me the time and space to save my life. I’m now in my 20th year without a drink or mind-altering drug.
Not drinking put plenty of free time in my hands. I became heavily involved in my church and committed to saying ‘Yes’ to everything they asked me to do. I volunteered at Norwalk Hospital in their detox unit, joined the board of a Norwalk men’s recovery ministry. Other men in recovery showed me how to do all these things. I was told that the best way for me to stay sober was to help somebody else get sober.
Today, I am married and live with my wife and 12-year-old son in Westport. Five years ago, I left financial services and started working full time in the addiction treatment field. My experience and connection to the recovery community in Fairfield County have given me the opportunity and insight to be a resource for many people seeking help from addiction.