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.

Sunday, March 8, 2020


During a business meeting this week our staff began discussing plans to start offering more services to our clients. And of course the ideas we came up with were by no means new.

There are programs around the United States that offer the same services we do. One of them is Pioneer Human Services, in the state of Washington. They have trade schools and businesses where they teach clients good work habits and train them in various trade skills. That way, when they graduate they'll have a good foundation to start a new life. Pioneer Human Services operated for some time a decal business under contract with Boeing aircraft. That particular business provided decals for helicopters and other aircraft. Studies have shown that those with skills that allow them to support themselves after leaving a program or institution have a better chance of staying clean and sober.

Another program that has a great reputation for helping its graduates succeed, is Delancey Street foundation, located in San Francisco, California. The program has a long distance moving company. An automobile repair shop. A print shop. A five-star restaurant. And other businesses.

None of their clients graduate until they learn a trade skill, a sales skill, obtain a high school diploma, and have a job. Some graduates have obtained employment with the San Francisco fire department, while others have become members of the San Francisco City Council. It's interesting to go to their website and see what they've accomplished in a matter of a few years.

In our case, we have a lot of buildings that need repair, and the work is done primarily by volunteers who have the skill to do that kind of work. Our plan is to teach unskilled and untrained clients carpentry, sheet rock, painting, roofing, cooking, sales, and other occupations that will help them survive when they leave our program for the real world. While we already teach them the skills, we are going to start doing it with the assistance of those who have more experience in the particular fields than we do. The way the economy is going at the moment, one doesn't really need a lot of skills to find employment as long as they are teachable. But the economy doesn't always stay as it is now and one day a certificate of completion or certification of a certain period of training will have a lot of meaning when one is seeking employment.

Because we're in the planning stages we don't know exactly what our outcomes will be. When people leave our program they will not only have skills to support themselves but we will be able to provide certification that they completed training in those particular areas.