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|Message from the President |
National Recovery Month has arrived and we have much to celebrate. For our clients, September is a milestone month in which they are given the opportunity to honor how far they have come. Throughout the country, Phoenix House will be hosting and participating in a variety of events—from picnics to performances—that pay tribute to our clients and share their remarkable stories.
Most importantly, National Recovery Month is about spending time with friends and family, and remembering the past while looking forward to the future. Thank you all for ensuring that our future will be a bright one.
Howard P. Meitiner
Recovery Comes Full Circle
Young clients at our Phoenix House Academy at Yorktown know José Rosario as a caring adult – a guide on their way toward recovery. But what many don’t realize is that José can relate to their struggles because he’s been in their shoes. Nearly 25 years ago, Rosario, then 23, faced charges for violating his parole and selling drugs. At the New York County Supreme Court, Judge Carol Berkman made a decision that changed Rosario’s life: she recognized that jail wouldn’t help him, but substance abuse treatment would. She sentenced him to a residential program. “She gave me a second chance and I decided to make the most of it,” Rosario recalls. Determined to turn his life around, he decided to devote his career to helping others who were struggling with addiction.
Today, José Rosario is VP and Director of our Academy at Yorktown—but he hasn’t forgotten the judge who made his journey possible. Last month, they were reunited when Judge Berkman visited our Academy. “She’s still committed to helping young people get the treatment they need – and several of our residents are here because of her referral,” Rosario explains. One of those teens is Cesar, 17, who has made great strides since he arrived at the Academy five months ago. “Judge Berkman was tough in the courtroom, so I was nervous when I heard she was visiting,” Cesar says. “But when I got to take her around and show her some of the drawings I’ve done, she had a big smile and was really happy with my progress.” For Rosario, Judge Berkman’s visit meant that his own recovery had “come full circle.” “I’m tremendously grateful to her,” he says. “I’ve now been sober for 24 years.”
Phoenix House Celebrates Recovery
September’s National Recovery Month is a time for friends and family to commemorate milestones, reflect on accomplishments, and continue to support one another throughout the process of recovery. This month, programs from across our regions will host and participate in events that celebrate our clients’ journeys:
On September 25, our New York region will march in the third annual New York Recovery Rally, sponsored by A&E’s Recovery Project and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). Last year, Phoenix House was proud to form the largest delegation at the event with a group nearly 1500 strong. This year, we look forward to celebrating again and spreading the message that treatment works—and recovery is possible. The festivities will take place on Randall’s Island and will include a 5K run, a recovery walk, and live music.
Phoenix Houses of New England are thrilled to serve as a leadership sponsor of the eighth annual Rhode Island Rally4Recovery in downtown Providence. On September 11, Fred Trapassi, Jr., Phoenix Houses of New England’s Vice President and Senior Program Director, will join keynote speaker R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, for introductory remarks. Highlights of this exciting event will include a presentation of the Rhode Island Recovery Quilt and a candlelight procession. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, the annual Recovery Month Celebration on September 24 will kick off with a proclamation by Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno at City Hall.
Our Adult Residential Program in Citra is pleased to host a celebratory Recovery Day picnic for Phoenix House clients, alumni and family members on September 12. As for our younger clients, they are excited to “pay it forward” – Phoenix House's Teen Recovery Management Program will join Goodwill's Good Guides as volunteers, serving the homeless at Metropolitan Ministries and assisting the elderly at a local nursing home. These inspiring young men and women are looking forward to giving back to the community.
In California, we will celebrate with creativity and community. Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles's fifth annual Recovery Month Celebration will include a poster design contest and presentations by clients about local volunteer work and activities. Also this month, Phoenix Houses of Orange County and Venice will host “Voices of Recovery,” showcases of original poetry from our Words That Free Us anthology and music created by youth in the Phoenix Rising Music Program. The performance will be lead by poets Jon Epstein and our own Maja Trochimczyk, PhD, Planning and Research Director for Phoenix Houses of California. In addition, Phoenix House of Orange County will host a T-shirt design contest, a luau, and a talent show to raise awareness about Recovery Month – and to give our clients the opportunity to let their creativity shine.