To Love Her is To Help Her

Good morning everyone, welcome and thank you for sharing your morning with us here at our annual Circle of Life breakfast. Many of you rose earlier than normal this morning to join us and I thank you! Some of you traveled across county to be here this morning and I especially wish to thank you! There are many of you in the audience, and you know who you are, that have lovingly tended the foundational roots of New Directions for Women. From chairing our Board and building Founder’s House in the 80’s, to those of you who built and grew our alumnae association in the 90’s, to volunteers that helped with the Chrysalis Ball, golf tournaments, and simply spent time with the children who first began living on campus in the 2000’s. Many of you here today personally helped us become the sanctuary we are today, in the 2010’s. Thank you!!

These past twelve months have been at times like drinking from a fire hydrant as I have said more than once. I am certainly well-hydrated at this point! Although there are many similarities here in the treatment arena as there are back on the east coast, there is much to learn in this new environment. New relationships to build and nurture, strong allegiances with the New Directions for Women family, nuances to state laws, the political landscape and of course there’s the day to day operations of this wonderful nonprofit organization.

I love that we offer a healing environment for all women who suffer from substance use disorders over the age of eighteen; women in any trimester of their pregnancy and women may bring their children up to the age of thirteen into treatment with them so that she doesn’t have to make a choice between receiving the services she needs or being a Mom. And I love even more that we do this with love, compassion and without judgment. We help these women heal from their wounds of the past and allow them the space and time to re-build relationships with their children that will help to put an end to intergenerational trauma.

There have certainly been challenges along the way, and there has been a change in culture as there would be with any change in leadership. But all in all, I am feeling very positive about the groundwork we have laid as a team and the vision for our future. This includes becoming an in-network provider for two of the largest insurers, Blue Shield and Aetna in addition to the insurance plans we have already contracted with. We have become more efficient as an organization with improved Information technology systems and have added family support services on Thursday evenings on campus, informational sessions regarding estate planning and employer education for the community at large to increase the awareness of addiction and how it may look in the workplace environment. You all have a Program Booklet, which outlines all of our Community Support services and events. Please take this with you as a resource to use, whenever needed.

We are also beginning to see the impact that some new legislation which is addressing the unsavory practices of those who have entered the treatment field for financial gain only. Most of you have heard negative, scary media reports about the abuses that some treatment providers are engaged in, hurting the industry as a whole and more important, people struggling with the devastating disease of substance use disorder. We have all been painted with the same brush. When you have a loved one in need of treatment services, emotions are running really high and it’s hard to know how to differentiate who the good providers are, vs. who are not. In the song our ladies sang, some of the lyrics go: “You can’t see what’s hiding here beneath the surface // You can’t tell how my heart grows till you unearth it.” I invite all of you to get involved, learn about our services, come and take a tour so that you have first-hand experience with New Directions for Women, and we’re on the tip of your tongue when someone you know needs addiction treatment.

There’s many treatment centers out there and as you ponder if this is one you can stand behind, let me share some statistics on our outcomes. We were one of eight treatment centers that participated in the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) Outcomes Pilot Program, a completely independent research study to measure long-term outcomes for patients who received residential substance use disorder services. At 12 months post discharge, we received the highest number of responses (60%) AND had the highest abstinence rate (76%). I want you to know we were the smallest treatment center out of these eight, which included Betty Ford/Hazelden, Caron, and many other nationally recognized treatment providers, some of which are represented in the room today.

But by far the single most difficult decision I have to make on a consistent basis is how to fairly allocate the scholarship funds raised which support our women with remaining in residential care when her insurance has denied continued stay at this level or to supplement the treatment services authorized and extend her care beyond a traditional thirty day stay. The statistics support what we know to be true, the longer an individual remains engaged in substance use disorder treatment, the better her chances are for long term sustained recovery.

I have come to know many of these women and their young children, I’ve met and spoken with their family members, as I have had the honor of living on campus and sharing in the day to day milieu they are engaged in. There is nothing more special than preparing and eating Thanksgiving dinner together, watching little ones and their Moms open gifts – which some of you in the audience had an active role in providing – during their often first sober Christmas together, planning, preparing and enjoying Sunday dinners along with our volunteers who give of their time and talent but share with me that the experience has enriched their lives beyond measure. Whether attending the weekly alumni meeting or being present when our ladies experience equine therapy; it all makes me feel extremely grateful and totally blessed to lead such a wonderful nonprofit treatment facility.

However, it does make it difficult to have to say no to a scholarship request from a woman who is wishing to extend their care.

I look forward to what this next year holds for all of us and it is my pleasure to introduce to you two individuals who will surely touch your hearts in a very profound way. In a few moments you will hear from Miles, a brave and compassionate young man who is mature beyond his years. After last year’s Breakfast, he came into my mind so clearly as a potential speaker for this year. But first, I’d like to introduce Brittany, who began her recovery journey at New Directions for Women and today helps others as our alumnae coordinator.

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