Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

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

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Spread Kindness

An act of kindness may change the world.

The first week of January, 1991, I made a phone call from a detox center in Mesa, Arizona. The call was to a halfway house in the downtown area, a few miles away.

Because I was about to leave the detox center after 11 days, I needed a place to continue my recovery. But I had no money.

When I explained this to the man who answered the phone, he said, in a rough voice, "Did I say anything about money?"

He told me all I needed to get into his halfway house was a willingness to stay sober. Of course I'd need to find work. But they'd give me credit until I found a job and started paying.

His kindness had a profound effect. Because if they hadn't been willing to take me in with no money I'm not sure where I would've ended up. Maybe back on the streets at 51 years old. Or living under a bridge. Perhaps I'd have gone back to jail. Who knows the course my life might've taken? I never forgot how I felt when I realized I had a place to continue my recovery. It was deep gratitude.

That one act of kindness planted the seed for what later became TLC. A year to the day after I left that program I open the doors on TLC's first house in January 1992.

Since then, over 350,000 men and women have passed through TLC's doors. And they've been able to enter without money. Have all them stayed clean and sober? Of course not. But enough of them have changed their lives to make a difference in the world.

The people who have gone through TLC and stayed clean affect those around them. Their children and grandchildren may follow their example. A good example spreads far and wide - sometimes through generations.

So when you have an opportunity to be kind, do it.

Like ripples from tossing a pebble in a pond, you never know how far your act of kindness will spread.