Acts of Kindness: An architect in Eugene gives family a blueprint for a new life

    Acts of Kindness: An architect in Eugene gives family a blueprint for a new life

    EUGENE, Ore. - According to data that was gathered in 2017 by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department, more than 1,700 people in Oregon deal with chronic substance abuse.

    Here in Lane County, according to the most recent "Point in Time Count," more than 400 people face issues surrounding substance abuse.

    It's a challenge that can wreak havoc on a person's life, and it often sends a ripple effect throughout a home. For one Eugene man, the struggle with sobriety took years, but thanks to the help of a volunteer architect, and a loving community, he's got a new lot on life, helping him stay sober.

    "I was an alcoholic," said Gary Madison. "I'm still an alcoholic, but I was a bad drunk."

    Life wasn't always easy for Madison, and it was a long road to recovery that was rift with challenges.

    Just over three years ago, he was brought in to a place that credits to divine guidance and intervention. Madison's wife, Pamela, feels that living at Emerald Village in Eugene is a gift.

    "I thought I'd have to be in some little squatty hole in the wall because of my income level," said Pamela.

    But this affordable tiny home cooperative in the Whiteaker neighborhood is for folks with extremely low incomes. It is a project associated with Square One Villages, a non-profit with a mission to make more affordable housing a reality.

    For local volunteer architects, like Michael Fifield, it's been a sobering reality to help people with challenges.

    "If you go around and look at some of the architects, many of them, including myself, have had challenges in our past," said Fifield. "So we're sympathetic to that."

    Fifield is the Director of Housing Specialization Program at the University of Oregon, and he designed Madison's home at Emerald Village. Because of this, NBC 16 was happy to move in on an opportunity to thank him with a $150 check to Rife's Furniture as part of the Acts of Kindness giveaway.

    Without skipping a beat, Fifield gave the money to the Madison's for their new home, new life and new community.

    If you'd like to recognize someone for their Acts of Kindness in the community, you can let us know by emailing

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