CLEVELAND — For many revelers on St. Patrick’s Day, the holiday honoring the culture of Irish people is celebrated with alcohol – sometimes in excess. However, The Edna House, a women’s sober living home that’s deeply rooted in the Irish culture, has been re-writing that part of the holiday tradition by hosting sober St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Located in a century-old former church convent at St. Coleman’s, The Edna House was co-founded by Erin Becker in 2004. The proud descendant of Irish immigrants, Becker created the sober St. Patrick’s Day celebration in 2005.
Even in the inaugural year of the event, which Becker admits had numerous growing pains, more than 300 people attended. She knew there was a need for sober celebrations of the revered holiday.
“You usually go to mass and celebrate that but for years it was a big drinking holiday too. To have an alternative is a big deal,” Becker said. “St. Patrick’s Day is a big holiday that a lot of people party, which certainly I did my share back in the day too. But we also love our heritage. We love the music, we love the dancing, we love getting together. It’s about family. We wanted to have our own special celebration.”
Becker, who’s 17 years sober, immediately saw the value in the sober celebration. Over the years, the event has continued to grow, bringing together law enforcement, first responders, those in recovery and their families. The event typically draws a crowd exceeding 700 people.
“What I’ve found is that I’m not denied anything and that my life has become much richer because I’ve stopped drinking. It’s because I didn’t do it alone,” Becker said. “I did it with this community of people that are some of the greatest people I know.”
The event is also one of the two major fundraisers for The Edna House, which covers the non-profit’s operational expenses for the upcoming year.
The sober celebration brings together people at every stage of their respective recoveries. The women currently residing at The Edna House cook and serve the meals. Meanwhile, alumni like Sinead Elbert are there for the women to lean on and learn from. Elbert, who is also Irish, has been sober for five years.
“I owe my life to this house,” Elbert said. “It’s imperative that people have support around times like this. It can be an incredibly lonely time so it’s good to know that you have that outlet.”
Holidays and celebratory occasions like St. Patrick’s Day or New Year’s Eve always bring temptation for people in recovery. Elbert said her St. Patrick’s Day celebrations before she got sober were usually drunken affairs.
In the end, however, she ended up feeling empty. She’s grateful that part of her is in the past.
“On St. Patrick’s Day, you started off at mass and that was probably the last thing you remembered,” Elbert said. “Recovery reaches so many other aspects than just the individual person. Our communities are better places when it’s filled with people in recovery. Our children have better lives. Our employers have better employees. Life is just better.”
The Edna House’s sober St. Patrick’s Day celebration is scheduled for Saturday March 16th. It will be held at the UAW Hall at 5615 Chevrolet Blvd in Parma. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the door.