The non-profit organization Lost & Found in America (LAFIA) was originally created to promote the efforts of organizations and individuals committed to providing dignity, faith and hope to those in need in their communities. Inspired by the subjects of its first project, the documentary film Lost in Woonsocket, LAFIA offered support of a nationwide tour over the last 4 years as part of a fundraising effort for recovery, homeless and faith based organizations in communities across the country. The organization is evolving and creating community projects of its own, including the formation of transitional housing programs and centralized community resource centers.
Recognizing that one of the crucial missing pieces in most state recovery programs is a safe environment in which to heal, LAFIA’s new direction is creating resource centers that bring related community-based recovery programs, homeless advocacy organizations and charitable organizations together under one roof. Phase 1 of this long-range plan is to create transitional housing opportunities that provide a structured and safe environment for residents, to help and encourage recovery.
LAFIA reminds us of what can be achieved by extending a hand to another human being. Not all will take it, and some that do will later turn it away. But if just one hand keeps hold, and then reaches out to another, soon, you’ve built a chain of hope, recovery and redemption. LAFIA’s next mission is to extend that hand and bring people together under one roof. And it all starts with a home.
LAFIA continues to fulfill its mission to inspire in each of us the power to save the world, one life at a time.
Six years ago, Normand Cartier’s home was a 4’ x 3’ tent in the wooded outskirts of Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Today, after many journeys, literal and figurative, Normand’s home is a two bedroom house in Winnemucca, Nevada. But his thoughts are always on his “brothers and sisters on the streets” – those whose home might be the alcove of a church basement, behind a dumpster in a dark alley, or a torn tent in the woods.
A veteran of the broken rehab/recovery system, Normand is LAFIA's inspirational spokesperson who has worked tirelessly as an advocate for his brethren on the streets. Speaking with a soft but strong voice and calling upon Rhode Island’s government agencies to work together to eradicate the current cycles of rehab and recidivism that plagues that state’s drug and alcohol recovery programs, Normand’s steps have paved the way for the next phase of LAFIA’s evolution.
As LAFIA’s new Executive Vice President of Transitional Housing and Social Development, Cartier is leading the charge to create a series of LAFIA Houses for Sober Living and Transitional Hope, believing that the progress he made in his small home state could be a pattern repeated across the country. LAFIA has pledged to support the fundraising efforts, to allow that chance meeting, which became a movie, which honored a man, who started a movement, to blossom into a worthy mission.