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.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Letter of Gratitude

Normally I don't publish emails this lengthy.  But I'm doing it now because these words exemplify what TLC is all about.  Skip is moving on to a counseling position at another program and we wish him the best.  His friends here at TLC will truly miss him.

"John, I wanted to let you know that I am extremely grateful to you for starting TLC because it gives alcoholics and addicts like me a chance to rebuild their lives.

Myself, I came to TLC in late April of 2011 a broken man, hopeless, homeless, previously suicidal, and recently released from a psych unit in Colorado where I ended up after detox where they told me about your program.

When I got here I did not know what it would be like, although at that point I had endured so much pain in my life that I would do anything to change it. I got a few odd jobs that paid my rent for a week and then worked at a call center which I couldn't stand because I thought I was "above those people." I stayed there a week and then came to your job center at the house and you came in a mentioned a job in corporate.

I told you I was interested - along with another man - and he got that job. Well, I didn't give up because I heard the word corporate and knew it was for me because of my degree and banking experience and also because my health was not 100%.

A few days later the man that got the job quit and I went straight up to that office and you gave me a chance even if I wasn't your first choice. I worked with a gentleman staff member as my boss involving your successful temporary labor company within TLC and I couldn't even write my own name (literally).

I had drunk and did drugs most of my adolescent and adult life and did not know how to function in life as a sober person and my brain was mush at 52 years old. The guy that was my boss was so patient with me and I know he was frustrated, stuck with me and helped me until my brain started to recover. I will always be grateful to him as well as his boss and the many other staff at TLC that put up with me.

You provided me with shelter, food, a shower and toiletries, even clothes when I needed them. And I would hear other clients complaining about the food or other basic needs that were getting met for them as if it was expected.

I then ended up after 4 months or so in corporate, at another successful venture of yours within TLC which was right up my alley, a convenience store clerk that paid slightly more. I worked there for about 21/2 years with another patient man that accepted me as I was. And that is what helped me stay because I could be myself. I originally only planned to come for 90 days and I was still there. In those years I learned about AA and other sober support groups, went to outside therapy and started to accept the principles of the 12 step program into my way of life, I learned about meditation and being involved with the community of TLC by doing small groups, car washes, other required activities, and GI. I stayed at the halfway house for my first seven months and then the word came that it was time to live in a 3/4 house with my own room and more freedom.

In a short number of months, I became manager of the house which I truly loved and was there for over 5 years until I got my own apartment in December of 2016. From late 2011 to December 2013 I was working at the store and one day I asked you what it took to be a counselor at your newly formed Outpatient Clinic.

The next thing I knew I worked there as an assistant group facilitator, then facilitator, and ultimately to a case manager - handling nearly half the patients.

You and your organization are like family to me and always will be. I am deeply indebted to TLC for their kindness, compassion, structure and even discipline which helped me to live a wholesome, healthy way of life, helping others like me. A life that I never dreamed could be so grand. Thank you so very very much from the depths of my heart. P.S. Sorry this was so lengthy but I reminisced as I wrote it."

God speed, Skip.  We're grateful for your contributions. You always have a home with us.