What are the odds? Of 10 extraordinary people chosen from around the globe as the finalists for CNN's Heroes of 2009, two of them are doing their good deeds based in South Florida. And until this Thursday the 19th, you can click here to vote for one of them, possibly netting them $100,000.
Andrea Ivory goes door-to-door in Miami in her mobile mammography van, bringing free breast cancer screenings to women who are uninsured. Roy Foster of Lake Worth runs Stand Down House, helping homeless veterans in recovery from drug and alcohol addictions. At Stand Down House vets get job training, substance abuse counseling, and help finding permanent work and housing.
The 54-year-old Foster says this is the first year he has competed for the CNN award -- the application was submitted by one of the staff psychologists. Foster got into substance abuse treatment the hard way: He was a homeless, alcoholic veteran himself. He went to work for a treatment center, then ran a substance abuse program in the jails for eight years before he opened Stand Down House.
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So how successful is the program? "Recovery is a strange thing to put a number on," Foster told us. "But we average a 93 percent employment rate, and 85 percent in getting folks into permanent housing. We require our people to keep a savings account, and we average about 90 percent. Ninety-two percent remain drug-free with urinalysis testing."
Foster notes that addiction profiles changed after 9-ll. "Before, we were getting Vietnam vets with mostly alchohol or crack cocaine problems," he says. "But the younger vets we're seeing now are addicted to pharmaceuticals. They're getting the oxys either on the street or they're doctor shopping. There's probably a slightly higher percentage of addiction in the veteran population because you're taking the usual childhood problems, like abuse or neglect, and adding a second layer with combat stress disorders."
A blue ribbon panel that included Elton John, Colin Powell, and Wallis Annenberg chose Ivory and Foster from a shortlist of 30 applicants culled from over 9,000 entries. CNN's third annual global search for "everyday individuals who are changing the world" will culminate on Thanksgiving night, November 26th, with a program hosted by Anderson Cooper, when one winner is chosen for the $100,000 prize. But the runners up won't go away empty handed -- they'll all get $25,000.