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, December 14, 2014

The Power of Kindness

Twenty four years ago this month my life was a shambles. I had an addiction to heroin and alcohol. I shoplifted every day to support my addictions. I was living in a stolen car.

The only positive in my life was that it was Christmas season. The holiday was a great time to steal because I could get lost in the crowds in the malls.

Depression and gloom though were constant companions. I didn't know where to turn.

Desperation finally drove me to seek help. I knew I was on a fast track to prison, a mental hospital, or the cemetery.

But the problem was that I had nothing. No insurance. No money. Nothing. Not even a change of clothes.

Someone - another addict I think - steered me to a detox in Mesa, Arizona, a place I could get into without money. They didn't ask a lot of questions. They only asked if I wanted to detox and then opened the door

After being there a week, I didn't know where I was going next. No one wanted to hear from me or help me. But the people at the detox gave me the number to a local halfway house that would take me without money.

When I called them they told me to come in. All they wanted to know was if I wanted to change my life. I told them I did.

That simple act of kindness, someone helping me with no promise of anything in return, changed my life.

After I was there a while I went to work for them as a volunteer manager. During my year there I decided to open a program of my own.

The result was TLC, the program I founded and still work for - 24 years later.

TLC today has over 700 beds and has helped thousands of men and women into recovery.

The kindness of those who helped me 24 years ago is still having an impact today.