Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th 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, February 6, 2020

Trusting the Untrustworthy

On more than one occasion we’ve had managers steal from us.

Some have stolen money, others have taken vehicles. And a few have stolen both. Then they leave, they relapse, and either end up walking a prison yard or living on the streets.

And yet, even though they’ve done us wrong, we’ve allowed them to return to TLC when they show up asking for help.

And I’ve had people question my sanity because I’ve allowed them back. And sometimes I question my own sanity. But then I reflect hat a lot of people gave me more than one chance even though I let them down multiple times. Of course, when we let them back in they don't start out with a job where they handle money or other valuable assets, such as vehicles. They have to start at the bottom and work their way back into our confidence.

And, believe it or not, we actually had two clients who ripped us off a second time – and we gave them a second chance. And they didn't let us down. In fact, one of them is still with us and in a position where he handles large sums of money. The other one stayed a few years, then left and started his own recovery program. Sadly, he was murdered one night while collecting service fees from his clients.

All those who did us wrong and came back and made their amends to TLC are now sober for several years.

Perhaps the core of our philosophy here at TLC is that we trust some of the most untrustworthy people on the planet. Clients show up at our program from all kinds of places: prisons, the streets, hospitals, from other states, from detoxification units, from police departments, hospitals and so on.

The things that most all of them have in common is that 95% are homeless, jobless, and without money. Yet we give them credit and welcome them as long as they're not arsonists or sex offenders.

And as far as letting them back in if they rip us off, well that's just what addicts and alcoholics do. Until they get sober they take from everyone around them in some form or another. And that's why I believe in giving addicts and alcoholics second chances – because people gave me chances over and over until I finally got it right.

And once I did get it right I'm able to enjoy the wonderful life I have today. All the Promises have come true.

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