Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Moments after sunrise during an early morning walk I pass a woman sitting on a concrete bench. Beside her is a small carry-on bag and other items.

My brain starts taking inventory. Homeless? Hungry? Mental? Meth addict? Alcoholic? Dangerous? Panhandler?

Answers come back: Too clean to be homeless. Outweighs me by 100 pounds so she’s eating somewhere. Too calm for a meth addict. No bottles in sight, so maybe not drinking. Probably mental.

I stop my brain and turn around to offer help.

Yes, homeless. Not an addict. Waiting to qualify for disability. No one will help her because she’s childless. On and on.

Then I quit asking questions and suggesting solutions because I hear a departed sponsor’s voice.

He’d say if someone’s life is bad enough that they’re collecting money on the street I should help.

When I’d suggest they might be a hustler with a Mercedes parked around the corner and live in a penthouse he’d say the same thing.

So I follow his advice and hand her a bill.  And my day went just fine.

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