As many counsellors before me, I too have been a client here at 1835 House. Walking down the now familiar stairs was terrifying the first time I tackled them. My legs were weak, my heart was empty, and I had given up. The blank look in my eyes told the story.
Men from all walks of life come to 1835 in hopes of a brighter future without drugs or alcohol. At first glance, these men may look very different from one another, but they all seem to have one thing in common, the blank look in their eyes. The very same blank look that adorned my face on my first day. Along the journey however, the blank look begins to transform. The very same eyes start to brighten and begin to encapsulate a look of purposefulness about them. By far the brightest eyes in the room however, always seem belong to the 1835 Alumni.
When I was a client, the alumni who came back to sit in on meetings offered a perspective that I was interested in hearing. Their message had depth and weight, and their eyes seemed to gleam! They were no longer in the daily environment of the house, yet they understood it, and had found a life after treatment. In other words, they had what I wanted. I looked forward to the regular visits from the alumni, and fostered relationships with many of them that I hold dear to this day. These men were the ones that inspired me to begin service work, and who further cemented my base of recovery that I continue to build on. It is not a stretch for me to say that if it weren’t for the alumni, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.
Time moves on, and with each passing day changes will happen. These changes are subtle to some, and more significant to others. Recovery Acres has seen many changes happen including staff, programs, direction, and future visions. Amidst all the changes, there is a core that has remained the same, and it is something I’m proud to not only see, feel, and recognize, but also to be part of. Our focus as counsellors and members of this organization has always remained the same – our clients.
When clients prepare to complete their treatment and leave 1835 House, the majority of them express their intent on coming back often to visit. The reality is quite different. Life gets busy, and priorities change. The clients who do end up being active in our alumni association seem to be doing very well. I’ve often asked myself if they’re coming back because they’re doing well? Or are they doing well because they’re coming back? The answer may not be important, but what is important is the effect that alumni have on current clients. As an alumnus, coming back to the house may mean all the difference to a current client. And who knows, perhaps you might get even more out of the interaction?
During these beautiful summer months, I look forward to seeing all of the wonderful alumni of 1835 House.