New Life Center continues assisting those in need
A nonprofit organization opened its doors more than two decades ago to help women and men beat their addictions and dependencies through a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day in-house residential community outreach program.
The New Life Center, which is founded, supported and operated by World of Life Ministries in Fort Myers, began after the Rev. Gaspar Anastasi and his family welcomed two homeless men into their own home.
Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah presented a resolution for Anastasi on Tuesday at the Lee County Commission board meeting.
“Therefore be it resolved by the board of commissioners of Lee County, Florida, that we do hereby recognize Pastor Gaspar Anastasi for his contributions to a better quality of life for the citizens of Lee County and his continued commitment to helping those less fortunate. He offers daily evidence to us all that one individual truly can make a difference,” the resolution stated.
Anastasi said he became a pastor 32 years ago when he opened the New Life Center in Freeport, N.Y.
“God changed me from the inside out. My thoughts changed the way I saw life,” he said about addictions he was facing at the time.
“God spoke to me and told me to come here,” Anastasi said. “God told me there was something special in this region.”
In 1983, the New Life Center opened its doors for an 18-month men’s program, and in 1987 the 12-month program began for women.
Since opening the center has provided a helping hand for men and women from across the United States and the Caribbean.
The center provides help for individuals who are 18 years old and older who are battling substance abuse, from criminal backgrounds or broken homes, as well as mental, emotional and physical abuse.
The center bases its healing through biblically-based and Christ-centered methods.
The Rev. P.J. Anastasi, Gaspar’s son who oversees the New Life Dream Center, said individuals in the program follow a vigorous schedule every day.
At 7 a.m. residents begin their day working around the facility to teach them ownership of where they live, P.J. Anastasi said. They also have free time, Bible college classes and quiet time so they can catch up on their studies.
He said the key component for the program is the peer counseling portion because it provides individuals with the opportunity to deal with the issues they are having and heal from the inside out.
Lucie Williams, pastor of the Women’s Center, said all of the 41 beds in the women’s dormitory are full. She said they also have nine beds for women who have children, and two of them are currently occupied.
Williams said part of the women’s responsibilities while they are attending the 18-month program is to cook three meals a day for 120 people, which is cooked in crock pots.
Program director James Transou, who is a graduate of the center, said they currently have 76 men occupying beds in the men dormitory.
The center provides such services as room and board, three meals a day, food, clothing, transportation, counseling, assistance in earning a GED, medical care, legal advocacy and assistance with job placement after individuals finish the program.
P.J. Anastasi said the center works very closely with the judicial system to help individuals who are fighting addictions. The pastors do interviews upon request for those who are interested in coming to the center.
The in-house residential community program has a 90 percent success rate among program graduates who leave the center and lead a successful, drug-free life. More than 250 men and 175 women have graduated from the program since 2007.
Gaspar Anastasi said the program has such a high success rate because when individuals receive Jesus in their thoughts, they begin to think differently.
“That’s the key to the success, God living inside of you,” he said.
Tanya Transou, who graduated for the Women’s Center three years ago, currently works at the New Life Center. She said she faced multiple addictions and followed her husband’s prayers, along with God, to where she was supposed to be.
Now Transou has been reunited with her husband and children and feels that she has been blessed in many ways.
Another survivor of addiction, Ginger Goebel, completed the program last year.
She said she is in “awe of God” and will never lack anything now that He is a part of her. Goebel said her life has completely changed since beating her addiction. Now she has a home, a place of work and will be getting married next month.
Tony Parker will graduate from the program in February and is currently the director of administration at the center. He said he was addicted to a number of different drugs before he allowed God to minster to his heart.
“I had a hunger to get to know Him,” Parker said. “God created a desire to walk outside of the lifestyle.”
Erick Early also shared his story of addictions. He said that after he burned a number of bridges and was in court before a judge to hear the verdict of his sentence, he was ordered to the center where his life began to change.
He said now he has a great relationship with his child and girlfriend because he has brought God into his life.
New Life Centers headquarters is located at 2150 Collier Ave., in Fort Myers.
For information, call 332-2368 or visit the Web site at: www.new-life-centers.com.