Gaudenzia. History, Programs & Training Institute.
>> GAUDENZIA. HISTORY.
In 1968, a group of distinguished business, political and community leaders recognized a serious problem for the City of Philadelphia — a growing number of people suffering from addiction were unable to find help. Determined to address the problem, these leaders invited a small group of substance abuse treatment professionals to create a residential treatment program that would save the lives of individuals otherwise doomed by their drug and alcohol addictions.
A cadre of willing supporters, which included Howard Adelstein, Dr. Griffin Bates, Michael Baylson, Victor Biondo, Dr. Irwin Breslow, Judge Paul Dandridge, Raymond Denworth, Esq., James Germano, James Giles, Esq., Thomas Gilhool, Esq., Dr. Frederick Glaser, Michael Gold, Congressman William Green, Peter Hearn, Esq., Joseph Jacovini, Esq., Jerome Kohn, D.O., Judge Edmund Speath, Joan Specter, Aurelia Waters, Mr. & Mrs. William Wilcox, Edwin Wolf, Esq., and Elias Wolf helped to establish Gaudenzia’s first program and Board of Directors.
Thus, community volunteers gave birth to Gaudenzia’s first residential substance abuse treatment program in a dilapidated North Philadelphia rowhouse. The program took in addicted men and women – mostly heroin addicts at the time – and provided the shelter, sustenance and support they needed to join the rest of the “family” in living free from drugs and alcohol. Most of these people had no ability to pay for treatment, and maintenance of the program depended on day-to-day contributions of food, clothing and furniture from the community.
Gaudenzia began as a mutual support community – a group of people who, through the basic assumption that sticking together would give them the strength and resolve to stop using drugs, were trying to recover from addiction through their unity and support of one another. Back then, there was little distinction between staff and residents. The senior residents ran the program – they were the people who had been around long enough to feel secure in their own recoveries and had gained enough knowledge to manage the facility.
Gaudenzia gradually gained acceptance due to its effectiveness. Gaudenzia expanded its programs steadily throughout the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s and now has a network of services so diverse, virtually anyone in need can receive help for their individual substance abuse problems.
The community responded enthusiastically and today Gaudenzia operates over 100 programs throughout the system. Gaudenzia offers comprehensive outpatient and residential programs that address the specialized substance abuse treatment, prevention and education needs
of men, women and children.
Gaudenzia’s specialized programs meet the needs of adolescents, pregnant/parenting women, dually diagnosed individuals (mentally ill and substance abusing), HIV/AIDS symptomatic individuals and homeless individuals. In addition, Gaudenzia administers the substance abuse treatment program at the State Correctional Institute in Chester, which is the first correctional facility in Pennsylvania dedicated entirely to the treatment of addicted inmates. Gaudenzia also offers transitional living services for men and women who complete our residential treatment programs. Gaudenzia’s ACCESS program offers private industry, labor union and other organizations employee assistance program services to address individual and organizational substance abuse treatment needs.
Gaudenzia’s mission is to help people affected by chemical dependency, mental illness and related conditions to achieve a better quality of life – allowing them to live as productive and accountable individuals.
Gaudenzia also conducts research and educates the community on the causes, treatment and prevention of addictions, mental illness and related conditions.
Gaudenzia views substance abuse as a complex biopsychosocial problem that must be addressed on all levels. Individuals must make significant lifestyle changes in order for recovery to be successful and long lasting. Gaudenzia adheres to the holistic principles of the Therapeutic Community that encourages individuals to take part in the treatment process as full partners, not as objects or patients. Individuals admitted to Gaudenzia encounter a highly structured family environment in which honesty, trust and mutual self-help are the foundation of the treatment process. In addition, daily seminars, group counseling and individual activities are offered to all clients. Work responsibilities are assigned that teach basic cooperation, respect and discipline.
Since 1968, the support of our communities has enabled Gaudenzia to develop a network of services so diverse that virtually anyone in need can be helped by Gaudenzia’s programs. Gaudenzia pioneered many programs for specialized populations and has earned national attention for innovative approaches to substance abuse treatment. We have also distinguished ourselves through the unique achievements that are highlighted on the following pages.
>> GAUDENZIA. PROGRAMS.
ADULT RESIDENTIAL SERVICES
Short, intermediate and long term substance abuse and mental health services are available for adults, women with children, homeless women and HIV symptomatic substance abusers.
Gaudenzia’s adolescent services have been developed to address the treatment needs of teens seeking recovery from chemical dependency. Gaudenzia offers both residential and outpatient programs.
Choose from a variety of outpatient options including: Standard Services, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) Partial Hospitalization, and diversified prevention programs.Gaudenzia provides specialized services to treat those with special or complex needs.
MENTAL HEALTH RESIDENTIAL
Programs are designed for the chemically dependent and mentally ill person.
CORRECTIONAL REHABILITATION SERVICES
Specialized programs for individuals involved in the criminal justice system including services for addiction, dual diagnosis, and mental illness.
>> GAUDENZIA. TRAINING INSTITUTE.
Gaudenzia was founded in 1968 with the mission of teaching chemically dependent individuals to lead a drug free life, and to educate the public about chemical dependency and negative behavior.
To further this goal, Gaudenzia has developed a training institute and opened it up to other treatment professionals and human service agencies. Thus, the goals of our training institute are:
- To enhance the services provided to the chemically dependent and dually diagnosed individual through on-going education for treatment providers;
- To share with the treatment community our knowledge and skills based on over 30 years of service for the chemically dependent, women and children, and dually diagnosed persons;
- To assist drug and alcohol treatment professionals in obtaining state honored education and;
- To make a contribution towards upholding the standards of treatment, through the on-going education of treatment professionals.
The Gaudenzia Training Institute has been developed by and maintained through the efforts of a core group of Gaudenzia Staff known as the Training Committee. They have identified the various areas of expertise represented among our staff of over 700 and have compiled that knowledge into written, presentable formats. They are applauded for their hard work and dedication over the years.
These courses are open to all Human Service and Health Care professionals. Each course description provides a brief statement regarding which individuals will benefit from the course. Course topics can be found for all levels of human service employees, including support staff, novice and experienced clinicians, health care and supervisory personnel.PCB/BDAP/MAPCB APPROVED FOR CAC CREDITS/CERTIFICATES
In keeping with the goals of this institute each eligible course has been approved by the Pennsylvania Chemical Abuse Certification Board, Bureau of Drug & Alcohol Programs, and Maryland Addictions Professional Certification Board. In addition, some courses meet DOC, ACA, and CBH credentialing requirements. Trainees will receive a certificate of completion at the end of each course which may be presented to PCB, BDAP, or MAPCB.
Trainers for the courses are Gaudenzia staff members, MAPCB, PCB, or State approved trainers who have successfully facilitated training sessions for Gaudenzia in the past and have expertise in the subject matter of the course.
To provide access to professionals in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and surrounding regions, courses are offered at six different Gaudenzia locations. These locations include: Gaudenzia Corporate Office (Norristown), Gaudenzia Siena House(Harrisburg), Gaudenzia at Park Heights (Baltimore, MD), Gaudenzia House Broad Street (Philadelphia), Gaudenzia Drug & Rehabilitation Center (Philadelphia) and Gaudenzia Nelson Center (West Chester). Training courses are offered at each site throughout the year.
>> GAUDENZIA. ALUMNI. TRUE STORIES.
More at www.Gaudenzia.org
2 January, 2005. I was delivered to Gaudenzia’s doorstep by a couple of sheriffs in 1981. They took off the handcuffs, had the receptionist sign some papers and thus began a whole new phase of my life. I absolutely think of my life as pre and post Gaudenzia. The journey that brought me to Gaudenzia had started years earlier on the city streets, beginning with alcohol and pot, and leading to other drugs and ultimately to a life of pain and degradation. I had become a walking zombie. What started as street corner parties with friends soon disintegrated into a living nightmare, wandering the streets going from drink to drink and from fix to fix trying to chase the good feelings and avoid the bad ones. It didn’t work. An addict trades everything –his dignity, money, family, health, future, and friends—all just to feel good. The ironic thing is—he always feels bad, usually very bad. I used every drug imaginable. Sometimes I would think that I was drinking too much wine and thus becoming a wino. Now it was time to switch back to heroin. When my first counselor in Gaudenzia asked me my idea of a good time, I said, “to take 80 milligrams of methadone, a couple of pills and sit by the window in Horn and Hardart’s reading the paper and watching the people walk by”. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Originally, I only came to Gaudenzia to get out of jail and avoid a long stay in the penitentiary but, once I got here, and was bombarded with the truth about myself on a regular basis, I could no longer deny the need for change. Even more fundamental than that, Gaudenzia introduced me to the mere possibility of change. I really had been totally resigned to my fate. I expected to die as a result of my drug use. In a sick perverted way, that was consistent with my romanticized image of myself…the sensitive, misunderstood, self destructive type. Since completing the program at Gaudenzia, I went on to college and graduated from the Wharton School. I started a family, bought a home—all of the things normal people do. My life is so different and so much improved today that I could not even begin to express the change in words. Recently I went back to school for computer certifications. I feel blessed and fortunate that a judge had the foresight and the wisdom to send me to Gaudenzia. He saved my life. I continue to work at Gaudenzia and I am happy to be a part of this process, happy to play some small part in giving to others what was given to me. David S.
From an early age, Dan smoked pot, used alcohol and heroin. He was arrested several times as a young adult. The last time, he was sentenced to eighteen months. The Court offered him only two options: detox or jail. Dan was mandated to write letters to treatment programs across the Commonwealth to ask permission to be admitted for treatment. Dan remembers, “Only one detox program in the area responded to my request after writing fifty letters…that program was Gaudenzia! I remember Ramon Roman visiting me in my cell to do my assessment. Being released from prison into the hands of Gaudenzia was like being reborn.” Dan was admitted to Gaudenzia’s Concept 90, an intensive residential program in Harrisburg, for treatment. Upon completion of the program, he received follow-up care at our Harrisburg Outpatient Program. After graduation, Dan was hired by Concept 90 as a House Manager. Today, he is the Program Supervisor. Recently, Dan marked thirteen years of employment at Gaudenzia. “Being released from prison and in the hands of Gaudenzia was like being reborn.” As Dan embraced the organization, he became closer with many members of the Gaudenzia family, in particular, the late Donald Garnett. “He was like a father to me from day one. He taught me how to be a man and put me under his wing,” reflected Dan. While working at Concept 90, Dan married colleague Joanne. They have two daughters Erica and Emily and one son Joshua. In furthering both his own professional development and commitment to the work of drug and alcohol treatment, Dan earned his Certified Addictions Counselor accreditation, as well as his Master’s degree in Human Services. Dan developed a passion for music, and specifically the electric guitar. Music continues to be a major stabilizing factor in his life. On weekends, Dan manages his own rock band, known as Rock Dog. His message for people facing the ravages of drug and alcohol addiction is simple: “As hard as life can be sometimes, don’t despair. Seek help. There’s hope out there, thanks to treatment organizations such as Gaudenzia.” Dan D.
April 2005 Climbing Upward and Onward… Tired, run down, blind to direction and nearly dead…this is how I felt that dark day of June 24, 1997. That day was my birthday and it was also the day that I entered Gaudenzia Kindred House to start my journey to recovery. I came to KH with a grocery bag filled with one outfit for each of my two children. My son was seven years old and my daughter was only three. At that moment I had only one thing on my mind and that was to regain my dignity and self worth. How I was going to do that? I really had no clue. After going through the intake process, I was assigned a big sister and a room on the dorm. When settling in on the dorm I became very ill with severe stomach pains. My big sister rushed to the front area to tell someone what was happening. I was immediately rushed to the emergency room for observations. After undergoing several tests it was determined I needed an emergency operation. I was nearly at my death. During my recovery process I was informed that I was 2 months pregnant and that my unborn child had a 50/50 chance of survival because of all the medications. That “baby” is now 7 years old and doing great thanks to drug and alcohol treatment that helped turn my life around. I am so, so grateful for my new life. I could never have imagined that I would ever get my life back on track, after the storm I had traveled. There have been some struggles and there have been some hard times. But one thing for sure, I have never entertained the thought of giving up hope, determination or willingness. With this structured path that I have carved for myself, I continue to work my program of recovery. In 2001 I was offered a job as a House Manager at my birth place Kindred House. I worked in that position for two years while attending school for my Associates Degree in Drug & Alcohol Counseling. The third year of employment I was promoted to day time House Driver. I worked in that position for one year and then was promoted to the Administrative Assistant position that I currently hold. I remain open to learning everything there is to know in order for me to grow and project an efficient and valued work performance. There is a ladder that I call “The Indefinite Ladder of Success.” I will be climbing this ladder for the rest of my life. I would like to thank Gaudenzia for believing in me when I didn’t believe in my self. Coretta H.
I grew up in Boston and when I was 11 or 12 years old my family moved to Philadelphia. I am the oldest of three girls. I had a wonderful mother and stepfather, who adopted me and gave me his last name. I went to a Catholic school until I was in the 10th grade. I was raised in a very good home where religion and structure was a part of the atmosphere. It was in the 9th grade that I began to grow restless; and started to become sick of Catholic school and all of mother’s “rules”. I began to rebel. My mother would send me to the store and I would stay out and hang with my friends for 4-5 hours before returning home. I would be punished only to do it again and again. I then began to get into trouble at school; my mother was starting to get fed up. I did not care, I began to hang with the wrong crowd, talking back and rebelling against the world. It was at this time that I was kicked out of the 4th Christian school that I attended in the 9th grade. I was a good student, so I was never in danger of getting left behind through all of the moving around. In 10th grade I was enrolled into my first public school, unfazed by it all. It was in this new school that I began to cut school, smoke cigarettes and experiment with marijuana. I met a boy, who said that he liked me; and so we dated, which lasted three months. During this time he convinced me to do things that I had not done before and the relationship ended when he raped me. This was my lowest point, before my addiction to drugs and alcohol. It was as a result of this rape that I became pregnant. To my mother, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so it put a strain on our already fragile relationship. I continued to hang out with all kinds of people. I eventually left home and began trying drugs for the first time. My addiction affected my relationship with my family and friends. I did not want them to see me in the state I was in, and as a result I stayed away. I was referred to Gaudenzia by Bowling Green in Kennett Square. Upon arrival I explained to them that I did not want to go back to the streets and that I needed somewhere to take my children. I have two boys. I was accepted and began their 30-day program. While in residence at Gaudenzia I endured many ups and downs. After 8 years clean, I relapsed. I felt I had a handle on things, and that I knew it all, I was very stubborn. I had to be knocked off my pedestal and be rebuilt, from the ground up; this is what Gaudenzia did for me. I had been in other facilities that would have discharged me, because they could not handle me, but not Gaudenzia. I did not intimidate the staff at Gaudenzia. I was open with them most of the time, and when I wasn’t, they knew it and dealt with me accordingly. Gaudenzia changed me from someone who lived to “use” and “used” to live, into a responsible, productive member of society. In 2001, I graduated from Gaudenzia. Prior to attending Gaudenzia I had received an Associate’s Degree in Mental Health. My goal is to continue my education by earning a Bachelor’s Degree. Life has been good to me. I was married on November 9, 2003. I had a criminal record, but have since gotten a pardon from the Governor, who had my record expunged. I have gotten a job at Gaudenzia, where I started as a House Manager; I have since been promoted to the position of Assistant Counselor. I currently have my eyes set on becoming Counselor. I have tried to summarize my life as best as I could, but what I am really trying to get across is that Gaudenzia equals change and it has done wonders in my life. Deborah
November 2005 A Candid Story of Recovery: Denise F. I was born and raised in a small town in central PA. I had concerns about appearing too straight, so it was my mission in life to show the world that I was not a goody two shoes. At an early age, I was promiscuous. I set my small town on its ear and most mothers did not want their daughters hanging out with me. This added to my feelings of never really fitting in. Not long after that I entered high school and began drinking. I never could handle my liquor. In my sophomore year of college, after a bad breakup, I started smoking pot. When I realized how good the marijuana made me feel, I figured the stronger stuff would be even better! I went on a mission to find out what drug I would like the best. I tried LSD, pot, hashish, coke, speed, etc. I dropped out of college in my third year. Soon I left home and went to work as a waitress in a popular bar and discovered the joys of late night partying with the grownups. Everything really got out of hand and I started shooting cocaine. I left my family and friends behind. I never wanted them to know about my bad habits. It wasn’t long before I ended up broke and penniless. My mother, who hadn’t come by to see me in nine years, had started searching for me. She found me in a dilapidated apartment in one of the worst neighborhoods in town. I had virtually nothing left…no car, no possessions, and no job. February 1984, I was referred to Gaudenzia’s Concept 90 program in Harrisburg. There I was received by a counselor, Donald G., who became my greatest inspiration. I eventually became acclimated to Gaudenzia. Cecelia V. stayed on me everyday, as did all my peers and the other counselors. Maybe in the second month, I started to buy into my recovery. I never liked it there and every day was difficult and challenging, but I grew to love Gaudenzia. Gaudenzia saved my life. The changes that took place while I was in Gaudenzia are what have allowed me to become the person I am today. They taught me honesty, personal accountability, responsibility, and how to be truthful with myself. After six months in treatment at Concept 90 and six more months at Harrisburg Outpatient, I graduated. With encouragement from my counselor Donald, I went back to school and earned a degree. A few years later, I got my Masters degree! Today, I operate my own agency, The RASE (Recovery, Advocacy, Service and Empowerment) Project. R.A.S.E. is an advocacy agency providing positive social outlets for the recovery community and seeks to enhance the recovery process. The organization also operates a woman’s recovery house known as RASE House. I’ve raised two sons ages 18 and 16. I’m an active member of the Capital Area Alumni. My goals today are to continue to progress in my recovery, to better myself emotionally, financially and spiritually. Thanks Gaudenzia! Denise F.
August, 2005 A Real Tough Kid My addiction started as a young boy wanting to be part of the tough crowd. I got into fights every day after school. I acted out in the classroom and did anything I could to get attention. My parents and teachers only wanted what was best for me. So in 1954, my family moved to a “better” part of Philadelphia. Boy was my family mistaken. I was twelve when my family moved. By the time I turned 14, I was drinking wine and a member of the local gang. I thought I had “arrived”. I was finally able to “fit in.” From that point on my life went down hill. My mother and father could not figure out a way to save me. So they watched as I went about the business of killing myself. This went on through 13 years of imprisonment, gunshot wounds, violent behavior, a ruined marriage, and a host of other things that need not be mentioned here. On May 13th 1985, I was sitting on some steps thinking about killing myself. I experienced what some would call an epiphany. Others might call it a rude awakening. I knew at that moment that I would not live through the night if I didn’t reach out to someone to help save my life. I had already been to Gaudenzia West Chester and was discharged. However my mind and spirit told me I could still get some help if I would only call an old friend. I got up from those steps and went to the phone. I called my old friend and told him that if he didn’t help me I wouldn’t live through the night. He told me not to do anything stupid, just go to the clinic to get a physical and he would do the rest. I did what he said and was in West Chester two days later. I was safe! Although my last day using was May 15, 1985, I didn’t start the recovery process until I was sent to Concept 90. I knew a couple of the staff in that facility from my years on the street. My thoughts were “if they could change, then so could I.” So I went about the business of treatment. I wish I could say that it was an easy experience, but that was not the case. When I finally completed, I thought that I knew what it took to stay clean. I thought if I worked real hard and went to meetings I would stay clean and be happy. I did manage to stay clean, but at first happiness was elusive. I first began to experience happiness when the staff of Gaudenzia taught me that “people can care for you just because you are part of the whole with a share in its purpose.” This was demonstrated to me by people like Mike H. who gave me the first car I ever owned, and Seminar Sam who gave me my tuition fees for Lincoln University. John M. would take me out to show me downtown Harrisburg. Bill N. taught me how to drive and Cecilia V. bought my newborn a gift. I could go on and on talking about how I was loved back to life, by the staff of Gaudenzia, but that’s not what keeps me clean. What keeps me clean is getting a telephone call and someone somewhere needs help. I jump to it. I am a happy man now. I know people love me. Because of the people in my life, my wife and children included I recently celebrated 20 years clean. Everyday I recommit myself to a value statement from my Lincoln project. “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the world, and lose his own soul?” Frank J.
My name is Harold P. I am a Gaudenzia graduate from 1986. My story begins in one of the worst drug infested neighborhood in the city of Pittsburgh. I began shooting heroin when I was 16 years old. At 33 years old I was a desperate dope fiend by all accounts. I had experienced every horror that goes with the devastation of drug addiction and nothing was an option anymore, but death. I had been to jail several times. I had just had what appeared to be a successful treatment experience in a therapeutic community (T.C.) for 18 months. I was a superstar new T.C. counselor and everyone loved me and believed in me, but me. I quickly returned to the same corner doing the same thing. Failure had returned and I felt there was no point in living. A group of people who knew me said they wanted to save my life. They found me and told me about a man’s man in Harrisburg Pa. who could help me. They begged me to get in the car and just ride up there with them. I ran and I hid until my money and hope ran out. At that time, something told my spirit that it was over. So I did what any grown man would do, I called my mother and begged her to ride me to Harrisburg. On May 20, 1985 after a painful sick ride we pulled up to a little converted truck stop and a big powerful looking man met us at the door. He said are you Harold, I said yes sir and he said I’ve been waiting for you. He asked me if I wanted to live, I said yes sir and he told my mother she could let go and turn around. He said everything was going to be ok. He held me as I cried like a baby in this mans arms that I had never met. I was loved the hard way back to life. I knew every treatment move in the book, I just needed to be loved and believed in. Everybody was there for me. Lonnie B. was my counselor and Cecilia V. was all over me everyday in a good way. I had such a powerful set of peers that showed up Larry W., Terry A., Frank J and Luther B. I love you all forever. On May 20, 2007 I celebrated 22 years. I have been all over the country as an ambassador for recovery. I have run prison treatment programs in Delaware, Texas, New Jersey and Las Vegas. I am presently the director of the Sheridan project in Illinois. It is a 950 bed in prison treatment program. Everywhere I have ever been or worked, every time I meet a young man in the program or seeking treatment, I have done what Donald G.at Gaudenzia did for me. I look him straight in the eye. I tell him that I have been waiting for him and I ask him if he wants to live. Thank you Donald, your spirit lives inside me everyday. And Thank you Gaudenzia, for saving a guy like me, I am so grateful. Love you all Harold P.
March, 2005 Foundation: “In this ground we can each take root and grow” The question was posed: “why don’t you give us a chance”? “Since you’ve given everything else a chance and nothing seemed to work”. Those were the words that were spoken to me at the St. Joseph Hospital detoxification unit in early 1991. A Gaudenzia counselor came out to interview me for inpatient treatment at Gaudenzia. After over fifteen years of drug addiction, compromising health concerns, several bouts with the law, homelessness, and countless other miserable episodes in my early life finally, by God’s grace and mercy, I stumbled onto the doors and passionate hearts of the Gaudenzia family. From that point on, I would learn about the deadly disease of addiction, the indescribable pain that I not only caused myself but every single individual that crossed my path in life. I would learn to deal with childhood and past experiences in my life. Experiences that I would so candidly use as excuses to slowly and tortuously bring demise to my spiritual and physical life. I would learn that all these excuses were meaningless and of no substance. At a very early age in life, before I even learned to live life, I was putting an end to my existence. When I arrived at Gaudenzia, what I didn’t know was that I was about to become a great man, a father, a son, a brother, co-worker, teacher, role model, vision of hope to an immeasurable amount of people directly or indirectly involved with the life style of drugs, alcohol, and crime. Seemingly, I would come in contact with diverse communities, encounter different situations and face many challenges that would put all the many lessons that I learned at Gaudenzia to the test. On the latter end of my treatment experience a counselor once told me that he saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself. It was something foreign to me, something I’ve never, ever been told before. He said: “you have the potential to help others”. In complete disagreement of his statement I thought to myself “this guy must be on drugs”. There was nothing in my destructive life résumé that would validate the fact that I was “helping” material. All I ever did was take from others. But I gave his words careful thought for I had no more options in life but to succeed. I immediately allowed Gods’ purpose to lead my life. Since then I’ve achieved what I thought impossible. Almost fourteen years later of uninterrupted clean time, I can say with assurance that God has truly created a miracle in me. After a divorce, I’ve raised my two sons. One is currently attending Bloomsburg University, the other is about to go into his senior year in an Electronics Charter school while holding a part-time job. I’ve held employment, gone back to school and accomplished more than I could ever have dreamed possible. In my early recovery process I worked for a social service agency targeting the Latino community. I currently hold a management position for one of the health divisions of the Philadelphia Health Department. I still work for Gaudenzia on a part-time basis as an Aftercare coordinator. One of my most rewarding endeavors is working at the State Correction Institution in Chester, PA as a consultant. Working with the incarcerated population has given me a sense of gratitude that can’t be summed up in words, but can merely be expressed by showing up each week and allowing the men not only to hear the good news but see the evidence that there is hope for another chance at life from a life of crime and drugs. I will conclude with my slogan analogy, as I must mention the importance of a solid foundation. As the palm tree has roots that are grounded so deep that when storms come by, the palm tree will bend far enough to hit the ground but it will never break. That is the type of foundation that Gaudenzia has instilled in me. No matter what life has thrown at me, the storms that have and will continue to come my way, I will perhaps bend so far that I will question the purpose of my existence, but with Gods help and Gaudenzia’s invaluable lessons, I will never, never, never, never, never, break. Hector V.
February, 2005 John Gives it Back In the month of March of the year 1979, I was forced into making a decision that would influence the course of my life. I had just been released from the Philadelphia Psychiatric Center after undergoing a six week detoxification from methadone. I had recently turned 34 years of age and was beginning to get in touch with the concept of my mortality. I had been addicted to heroin since my mid 20s. I had contracted Serum Hepatitis and had been hospitalized on two separate occasions where I almost died. I had spent several years incarcerated in correctional institutions such as Leavenworth, Kansas and Lexington Kentucky. I had lost the respect of my family and had abandoned my children because I could not bear to have them watch me die. The love and respect that had once been mine had turned into shame and pity. My mother told me that although I had always been her “favorite child” that she never wanted to see me again. Loving me had become too painful for her to endure. She believed that only death would bring me peace. Philadelphia Psychiatric Center had contracted with a recovering addict that had received drug treatment from a program in Tioga called Gaudenzia House, to facilitate group therapy sessions. The Gaudenzia Graduate was named Mark S. At the end of lengthy group session Mark asked if he could speak with me in private. His conversation with me was direct and to the point: “You are wasting your time in these groups. There is a program that was created just for addicts like you” He handed me a slip of paper with a telephone number and an address for Gaudenzia Outreach and said, “call these people before you kill yourself” I called, was interviewed, and entered treatment on March 22nd 1979 at Gaudenzia House Philadelphia. It is now January of 2005. I have a beautiful and loving wife of 21 years, Michelle. I have a Master’s Degree in Human Services from Lincoln University. I have been honored with numerous awards and citations from many prestigious groups and agencies. I have 17 wonderful grandchildren who adore and respect their grandfather. I have been in-trusted with the responsibility for the operation of the HIV Treatment Programs of Gaudenzia Inc. I have the professional respect and personal friendship of a group of people that I love. I have become an elder statesmen/role-model/ teacher/mentor/guide/friend and leader. I am celebrating 25 years of continuing sobriety on my next anniversary date. How did this metamorphous occur : Reggie S., David G., Alan B., Penny G., Joe L., Tommy Z., David C., Tyrone S., John L., Donald G., Ramon R., Mary B., David S., Jim L., Pat Y., Cecilia V. and numerous others that have been major contributors to the person that I have become. Gazudenzia can be personified for me in the person of Mike H. Mike has supported me through every triumph and tragedy that has occurred in my life of recovery. I have been loved, chastised, taught and nurtured by Gaudenzia. As we say in recovery, “give it away like you got it”. That is my plan. John M.
Len P. I am 40 years old and I was born in the inner city neighborhood of Baltimore City. I grew up in a family that was involved in drugs and crime. When I was a teenager, my family moved out of the City and in to the County as a way to escape the dangerous lifestyle of our neighborhood. The move was not easy for me. I found myself trying to socially adapt and find my identity but I could not. I felt isolated and like I did not fit in. Dealing and using drugs gave me a sense of belonging. Before coming to Gaudenzia for treatment, I tried to work the program on my own, and actually succeeded for over five years. Before my father’s death, he saw me clean and sober – but I could not stay out of the lifestyle. I stopped working the program and went back to selling and using. My disease had beaten me up so badly in the past and I swore I would never go back, but I did. On May 2, 2005, I was in a state of deep despair and wanted to die. As a refuge and a last effort to clean up my life, I entered Gaudenzia at Park Heights. For the first time, I was taught how to live physically and spiritually. I learned how to change my thinking and my behavior. I now attend N.A. on a regular basis, work the steps and give back to the community. I feed the homeless at a local soup kitchen, participate in my community association and serve as the treasurer in the Gaudenzia Alumni Association in the Chesapeake Region. I hold steady job as an Insurance Agent for a major company and plan to enroll in college to become an addiction counselor. I want to give back and give hope to addicts to show them that there is hope. Len P.
DRUGS DESTROYED EVERYTHING I CARED ABOUT; GAUDENZIA GAVE ME A NEW LIFE” I will never be able to repay my debt to Gaudenzia. I have been a clean member of society for 24 years. My 20 year old daughter has never seen me take a drink or a drug, and they say there is no higher power… My story is no different than yours. I did what I had to do in order to use drugs and nothing was sacred. I sacrificed everything for drugs believing that I would die an addict. My parents were alcoholics. I’m one of four brothers, all addicts. At age 14, heroin became my drug of choice. I used continuously for the next 24 years, stopping only because I was incarcerated or when I tried to stay clean on my own, neither of which worked. One brother is doing 25 years to life, one was killed in New York when a drug deal went wrong, another is living with AIDS, and my other brother has been clean for 20 years. One way or another, drugs destroyed everything I cared about. I first became aware of Gaudenzia in 1979 when I visited as a member of Narcotics Anonymous and then finally arrived as a client on October 29, 1981. My stay at Gaudenzia’s long term treatment program, Concept 90, in Harrisburg was the hardest thing I had ever done; it seemed like forever. I was facing charges in several counties and was often removed from the property and taken back to jail. Somehow, I was allowed back into the program. My peer group was made up of about 40 residents, old, young, black, white, male and female. They were the closest thing to family that I’d ever known. Living on borrowed time, my wish was to die, but I was too cowardly to take my own life. I hated myself and everyone else. At Gaudenzia, I was forced to take a look at my life and accept my part in all that had happened. I already had one failed marriage. My ex-wife was an addict. We had three children who did not deserve to have us as parents. My oldest daughter, Kim, died of heroin overdose a few years ago. She was the product of both what she knew and what her parents had taught her. In treatment, fortunately, I was given a number of tools which allowed me to start over. I started my own business. I knew a fair amount about computers and began working as a technician. I returned to school and studied programming. I soon opened a storefront in Lemoyne and sold computers and software. Shortly after, I opened a warehouse and transferred the service and manufacturing to Harrisburg. After many long days and nights I sold the business in 1998 and retired. Paul O.
July 2005 My name is Wanda S. and this is my story. Living in Center City for 18 years was a turning point in my life. I was a model. I had two jobs, a new baby, and a loft right in the middle of everything. Life was great. As the years passed, I started feeling a void in my somehow great life. I began to feel lonely and empty. I wanted instant gratification. I started meeting people. I met any and everybody. It didn’t really matter who you were I just wanted to fill that emptiness I was feeling. These people, these strangers, were addicts. I felt like they were my friends. Little did I know that they were using me to get high at my house. After realizing what was going on I cut them loose. I started getting high alone. First it was once a month then it turned into weekends until it was everyday. Needless to say I lost my two jobs. By now I had three more kids and I lost them to the drugs. I chose to get high rather than be the mother I needed to be. My decline really took off. I was evicted and living pillar to post. I did whatever it took to get more drugs. Not knowing the consequences that came along with the drugs, my desire was progressing. I needed more and more. I started burning bridges along the way. Once I realized my life was going down hill, it was too late. BAM, I was arrested and given 11 ½ to 23 months at a county jail. During the six and a half months I spent there, I requested a drug unit. I met this lady, Avis S., who interviewed inmates for in-patient programs. I asked her to send me to a place where I couldn’t get back home. She sent me to Gaudenzia Kindred House in West Chester, PA. I arrived at Kindred House in August 1997, shackled and scared of this new way of life. Gaudenzia Kindred House is a rehab for women and children. During the 10 months I spent at Kindred House I was re-united with my children that were taken away by DHS during my active addiction. I completed the program at Kindred House. I became the house driver and a positive role model for the women there. I graduated and kept coming back. I came for groups and held groups and talked to the women. I would pick them up and take them to meetings, picnics, and conventions. I enjoy helping the new women. Today I am a productive member of society. I have been on my present job for over 6 years and my children are back in my life. I just celebrated 8 years of uninterrupted clean time. I continue to give back what was so freely given to me. I have a Higher Power that gives me the strength to get through each day, one day at a time. I am so proud to be a graduate of a Gaudenzia program. It saved my life. Wanda S.
January 2008 Gaudenzia has been the most inspirational thing in my life. My name is Raphael. I’m a proud graduate of Gaudenzia Concept 90 in Harrisburg, the place that gave me my life back. I was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York in a very unhealthy home with no positive role models. My father was the man I should have been able to depend on the most to teach me about life, but instead he was the most abusive person I would ever meet and his introduction to alcohol led me to a path of destruction that would take years to repair. He made moonshine by the gallon and hid the jugs in the backyard. By the time I was five years old, he was serving it to me by the glass. I remember our regular visits to bars together. His goal was to sell his moonshine. He’d force me to consume the alcohol in the presence of others. If I fell over and passed out, then it was a viable product that others would buy. By the time I was an adult, I was shooting-up heroin, mixing it with cocaine, freebasing, smoking marijuana and drinking. Only with the help of Gaudenzia and true angels like the former Gaudenzia Concept 90 Director, the late Donald Garnett, was it possible to be who I am today. It was through Donald that I found the foundation of my recovery. I would never know what family was truly about until Gaudenzia embraced me. They helped me to deal with this tragic history so I could find recovery and live a positive and healthy life. Gaudenzia has been the most inspirational thing in my life. With virtually no education prior to my admission to Gaudenzia, at 42 years old, I didn’t know my ABC’s. I couldn’t write my own name. Donald hired someone to help me learn to read and write. I memorized the Gaudenzia Philosophy by reciting it over and over again so I could graduate in 1988. Today, my heart is filled with love for my family and for Gaudenzia. I treasure my time with my two children and three grandchildren, succeeding at my job and pursuing my education. Raphael P.