Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Lighthouse Dedication by Governor Minner

It was a great honor to have Governor Ruth Ann Minner dedicate The Lighthouse Program on February 21. Our work would not be possible without her support. The following are her complete remarks at the Open House.

"Good morning. Thank you for coming out on a cold nasty morning when we see all that snow out there on the ground. I wish I could tell you it was going to be real nice weather, but look out tomorrow! Another day where we’re going to get snow, and they’re saying 3-4 inches, so get ready this afternoon so you won’t have problems tomorrow and having to go out in that snow. I have a feeling it’s going to be probably be our worst storm of the winter. So at least we know when we get it over, spring’s coming, it makes a difference.

“Thank you for inviting me to be here. Renata’s right, I have enjoyed very much interacting with the agency and what they do in the community, because it makes a difference. I can only say to you that every one of us, at one time in our life, has a time that we’re down, whether it’s just because of the death of a loved one, or some huge problem that I wouldn’t even comprehend to know what to tell you what to do. But we have that time we’re down. And I think Renata Henry is one of those people who always has the broadest smile. It sort of makes you feel better just to see her. And so I know that people in the community have that same exposure to her, and it is the same pleasure in knowing how deeply she cares. There is not a more compassionate person in our state than Renata Henry. We are fortunate to have her at the state facility.

“I remember some of the things that we’ve talked about over the years, and her saying to me, ‘We really need to do more, we really need to do more.’ And I’ve had to say exactly what a lot of you say every day, when it comes to, what can you do: ‘Do you have any more money?’ And so when it came to the point where they explained to me how they could just do some different things, and use money in different ways, I said, ‘Go do it. That’s fine with me.’ And so, they have made a lot of changes within the department that mean so much to our community. And that’s what government is all about. It isn’t about our jobs or what we do. It’s about what we do for the community, the impact that it has on those of you here. And boy, what an impact they have in our community, there is no question.

“Brandywine Counseling has made a tremendous difference in the lives of so many people. There is no way that we could simply stand here and say thank you to them, and it would mean enough. Because the lives they touch, touch other lives in the community. It’s not just the mother, it’s the mother and the children. They said it right, it affects a whole family. But it isn’t just a family, it’s a community, it’s your neighbor, it’s the people you work with. What they have done in this state is something we could never say enough thank yous for. They’ve been doing it a long time. Twenty years, that I know of. If you look at the people that they have touched, they have changed their lives. And see how much they have changed after they’ve gone through one of the programs and worked with some of the counselors. There’s no way that the state could have done that without the volunteer hours they give, as well as their daytime jobs. Because they give those hours if it’s 1:00 in the morning or if it’s 4:00 in the morning, and they know that one of their friends is in trouble. And I haven’t ever heard them call the people they work with their ‘clients.’ You’re not ‘patients,’ you’re not ‘those people who have trouble,’ you’re their friends. And they want to make sure you reach your goal, and that’s why they’re there working with you.

“Substance abuse is a powerful disease, and it can ruin lives, there is no question. But Brandywine Counseling saves those lives. It helps those people to achieve, to regain their self respect. Each one of us in our own way is very important to this state, and that self respect means a great deal. Think about it. It’s difficult. I know how difficult it is for some people to break that cycle. But they, working with you, cheering you on, making sure that you have the advantage of working with them, whatever hours of day or night, it makes a difference. The counselors are trained. They do their job well. Many of us can have all the compassion in the world, but we don’t know how to achieve what needs to be done and what needs to be said. And I say ‘done’ and ‘said’ because it isn’t always something clear.

“I had a gentleman one time, who told me that he was having problems, and he said, ‘You know, my neighbor just came and sat with me. Didn’t talk to me, just sat with me. I just knew there was someone who cared because he was there.’ But when I think of this church, that’s what I think of, the people who are always there, and continue working together. I know we will achieve great things. Bishop Foster has done an outstanding job in this community, and Brandywine Counseling will do even more. So we’ll look forward to their continuing at helping people to get themselves back on the right track. You never know what they might achieve.

“I always tell the story of a young man that I met when I was with the Board of Pardons, and he came before us to get a pardon. He had been in jail and just gotten out. And I said to him, ‘Well, now that you’re out, you’ve got your troubles behind you, what do you intend to do?’ And he said, ‘I want to become a lawyer. I was a good student. I want to become a lawyer, and I want to help - legally help - those people who can’t afford it, to pay for a lawyer.’ That young man is working in our public defender’s office today. He helps people who cannot. I feel good about that. The people who work for Brandywine Counseling must feel good about that a hundred times a day, and they help all of you who need it.

“Not everyone could do that. I don’t think I could do what they do, I would be depressed after about the sixth or seventh one I had to work for. But they’ve always got a smile. They’re always out there. They’re always ready. And let me tell any one of you who is in one of their programs, or thinking about going into one of their programs, they’ll be there. Anytime that you need them, just give them a call. It is amazing how much they can do to make you understand what your problem is. They don’t tell you, they help you understand what your problem is, and achieve your goal of changing your life. I know that every one of them goes home from work every day feeling good about themselves, and well they should. Our state, our country, in fact, our world is a better place because they’re there, because they reach out and help. Lives are changed. People are different, and they move forward with their lives as well.

“Congratulations on the opening of the new facility. Congratulations on the achievement that you have. And I’m sure that, this close to Reverend Foster, you’re going to have all the support you need, and a heck of a lot of prayer going on to make sure that you succeed. It makes a difference. Thank you to all of you, and congratulations.”

Monday, February 25, 2008

5 Questions for Claudette Bell, Outreach Worker

5 Questions is our ongoing feature where we introduce you to the people who make Brandywine Counseling run, spotlighting a different staff member every two weeks.

Name: Claudette Bell
Job: Outreach Worker, HIV Prevention and Needle Exchange
Time with BCI: 5 years

1. What makes community outreach different from seeing clients in a treatment center?
Every part of BCI is important, but actually going out in the community, when you go out in [drug users’] environment and see what they have to deal with on a daily basis, that makes it just a little bit different. It brings it more to life how people are actually living. When they come up to the clinic, you might see them for an hour if they have groups, or if they’re coming to get dosed, they’re no more than ten or fifteen minutes. But when you go out in the community and actually see how our clients are living, it brings a whole different light and more respect for them. It’s a struggle out there, it’s no joke. It’s rough out there.

2. What are the challenges involved in doing outreach?
We’re just like the postal service with outreach, we work in all kinds of weather. I think we have a good team. Even when we’re out there in the rain, people be like, “Y’all be passin’ out condoms and stuff in the rain?” I’ll be like, “Yo, we just like the postal service - we’re out there in all weather!”

Some of the communities that we go into are bad. We’re always told never to put ourselves at risk. But you never know what can happen, you could just be walking down the street and people start shooting or something. We don’t go out there putting ourselves at risk, but we know that, like they say, stuff happens.

3. What is it about this job that makes it worthwhile for you?
Some clients are here actually to get their lives together, and others are just here so they won’t be out on the street, trying to find dope. Sometimes when they come in, their intentions will be, “Well okay, I’m just going up there so I won’t have to be out on the street.” But something within the program, or something that somebody might have said to them, will turn them around, and then their purpose of being here is to be clean.

A couple clients, I was here when they came, I was doing their case management work, and now they actually work for BCI. And being able to instill in them that there is hope. Just because of where they were as addicts, you don’t have to always be an addict, because you can always turn your life around. It’s just a matter of, if that’s the road that you want to go, and how willing you are to fight for it.

And to me, that’s the joy of it, when you see clients get clean and become productive members of society. It’s just helping people. It’s not that you’re doing it to look for a reward or something like that, it’s doing it because it’s in your heart and that’s what you want to do.

4. You can tell a lot about a person by what they have in their office – tell us what you have in your office.
Oh Lord, I have everything! When I was over at the main building, they used to call me MacGyver. Anything they needed, I had it. Screwdrivers, plates, forks, napkins, feminine products. Anything they needed, I had it in my office. Like I said, it’s about helping people, so you never know what people may need. I go to the store and I’ll be like, oh, okay, here’s some safety pins, get a pack of safety pins. Never know, somebody’s button might pop, they need a safety pin.

5. What is the most fun thing you’ve done with your clients?
Oh, wow. When I was with the Hope program [as an Intervention Specialist], I used to do a lot of fundraisers and stuff, and cookouts, and barbeques. The funnest thing was when we went to Dorney Park. They had so much fun! Because I know, when I went into recovery, that was one of the first things that I’d done, and I’m like, “I haven’t been to an amusement park in so long!” So I kept on asking clients, “Well, when was the last time that you’ve been to an amusement park?” And a lot of them couldn’t remember. So to me, to take them to an amusement park and just to see how much fun they had. They was kids. They had a ball. So, to me that was great.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Lighthouse Program Open House

Today we celebrated a very special event for Delaware, the opening of the first women's and children's residential treatment program. This morning's ceremony was wonderful. We'd like to say thanks to Governor Minner, Renata Henry, Jack Kemp, and Bishop Major Foster and his staff from Philadelphia Pentecostal Church and Delmarva Clergy United in Social Action.

It was an honor to be in attendance for today’s event, and there will be future posts to come on that, but for now here’s a few pictures. I also had the opportunity to sit down for an extended conversation with Shay Lipshitz and Bishop Foster. They had much to say about how this whole program came together, but just to give you a taste, here are their thoughts on today's celebration:

Shay: “It’s been a wonderful day for Brandywine, a wonderful day for the church. It’s been exciting to see a dream, that was something that was thought about a few years ago, actually come to fruition, and today we gave birth to it, so it’s pretty exciting.”

Bishop Foster: “Words can’t express how we feel, because the fact is, we’ve done something that God wanted us to do, to help people. And when you do that, that’s the joy you feel inside, because you’ve just made somebody’s life happier. To me it’s without words, what Shay and Brandywine have come in here to help us do what God wants us to be doing. So it’s overwhelming, and it was nice today.”

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Open House Tomorrow!

Denise, the Lighthouse Program Director, sent me a bunch of pictures yesterday in preparation for tomorrow's open house. Lots of them were stuff I had seen before - construction, furniture, more construction, more furniture. But I must say there was one in particular that caught my attention.

Who was this mysterious character? Where did he come from? For what purpose was he standing there in the corner? I had to know.

Denise informed me it is, in fact, a growth chart for the kids to see how tall they are. It came from Closic's Furniture. Take a closer look and you can see the ruler.

So, yes, there's a perfectly logical explanation why you may see a lighthouse smiling back at you when you join us tomorrow for our open house. We like to have fun here, but there's always a method to our madness. Our residents are in good hands.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Recovery "League of Advocacy"

The Discovering Alcoholic has invited us to be part of a League of Advocacy to help draw attention to issues affecting the recovering community. Are you reading this blog yet? You should be - it's an amazing recovery resource. Even though I'm not in recovery, I read it every day and I always find something insightful.

Anyway, TDA has come up with a wonderful idea:

“I plan to send out a request to my fellow recovery bloggers and interested parties to take part in a link exchange program designed not to promote ourselves, but instead as an advocacy league. All I am asking for is an e-mail, and a promise to consider sending a message to your representatives or posting a blog on topics of great interest or concern to the recovery community. It’s only asking a little, and by working together we can make a difference each in our own little way. I am not asking you to dress up like a recovery superhero (although you may want to try it, these tights are super-cool), but we just might be able accomplish some really super things.”

I’m excited to be a part of this because I would like for this blog to do more than just report our BCI news, but also be a resource for people and a tool for positive change. Since recovery topics are not my area of expertise, I hope some of my co-workers will step in to help us move in that direction. So stay with us, join in the conversation, and help us build this new recovery network.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What Should BCI's Next Mural Be?

Good news, mural fans - if you enjoyed following the Alpha project here on our blog, there is more where that came from!

We have a group planning to brighten up the walls of the Lancaster dispensing area (pictured) in the coming weeks. Not only that, we have someone on board to do Newark's waiting area. And don't forget The Lighthouse Program - no takers yet for this Sussex County project, but it's only a matter of time.

So we need some ideas for the artists! What would you like to see on our walls? Post your ideas and discuss here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Alpha Mural Welcomes All with Message of Hope

It's with great pleasure that I present to you the completed BCI Alpha mural: "Out of the Ashes of Our Hopelessness Comes the Fire of Our Hope."

When a talented artist gets together with our BCI staff and clients, great things happen. Caelen Bird volunteered to do this for us in his spare time. Although he didn’t have a lot of knowledge of addiction treatment, he sat down with some of the staff and listened to our ideas for the project, and somehow came up with just what we wanted. Later, when we discussed having the clients choose the title, he immediately agreed to the idea. The Alpha staff and I very much enjoyed working with Caelen, and we thank him for sharing his time and his talent with us.

Please visit http://www.caelenbird.com/ to see more of his work.

Monday, February 11, 2008

More Lighthouse Pictures

Here are some pictures from inside The Lighthouse Program as we prepare to open our doors to the residents.The shower curtain is a nice touch, don't you think?

So, Shay, are you having fun yet?

Here's the program staff about to sit down for a meal.

The Playground Fund now stands at $2,567 - thank you!

Friday, February 8, 2008

5 Questions for Krystal Cooper, Receptionist

5 Questions is our ongoing feature where we introduce you to the people who make Brandywine Counseling run, spotlighting a different staff member every two weeks.

Name: Krystal Cooper
Job: Receptionist, Georgetown Center
Time with BCI: 2 years

1. Tell us what you do at BCI.
A little bit of everything. I call myself a mini-counselor because I normally see the clients before they go up and see their counselor. I hear all their problems before their counselor does. [To do this job,] you have to be a people person, because you’re the first person people see and you’re the last person people see, so you have to leave a good impression or they’re not going to want to come back. I also have to take the phone calls, at the same time I’m giving out a urine [drug screen], the same time I’m typing up a letter. So it’s a lot of multi-tasking, but a little bit of everything!

2. What made you decide to work in the addiction treatment field?
It’s really funny. There was no reason, it just fell into my lap! I was working at Seaside Endoscopy and the doctors were closing the practice. I’m a mother of three children and I couldn’t not have a job, and I was really worried about it. My boss over there said, “Well, let me call my friend Shay [Lipshitz], and see if she knows anything in Georgetown that might be available.” So she called Shay, and Shay says, “Oh, my receptionist just put in her resignation!” So I came over for an interview, and the job kind of fell in my lap!

3. Tell us about the clients you see in Georgetown and what it’s like to work with them.
A lotta, lotta homeless. I’d say probably 80% of our clients are homeless. Some of the stories and things that I hear are very upsetting and scary. But a lot of them are strong willed. They are in shelters, but they are out looking for jobs and homes, and they’re really strong people.

They can fall flat on their face, and they get up and they try it again. And they may fall again, but they try it again. And it’s really put my life into perspective. All the sad things that I think happened in my life, how horrible it is, it doesn’t compare to some people. And if they can get back up and keep going, and try again, then there’s no reason that I shouldn’t be able to.

One of the clients here had lost her children, and she was living in a shelter. She was here for probably two years. And now she has been discharged successfully. She’s got her own apartment. She’s got her kids back. She’s working full time, and she’s actually taking some classes and going to school.

4. Many of our staff decorate their office with personal items. Tell us what you have in your office.
I like to decorate with funny stuff. I have family pictures back here, but behind me I’ve got the cat holding itself, it’s about to pee on itself. We always laugh at that. Butch [Hovis] gave that to me. And up here I have funny pictures, like “Your boss is picking on you,” that’s supposed to be Shay and me, and everyone in the office who’s driving me crazy. So just funny things, and sayings. A lot of sayings like, “Sobriety losing its priority equals slip.” Just funny stuff, inspirational stuff. I have books that Frank [Cassidy] and the other staff give me, that I like to type up once in awhile, and I change them out and put them up. So, just little stuff to catch people’s eye, and while they’re sitting here, stuff to read. And my monkey that’s supposed to be on your back.

5. If you had $30,000 to donate to BCI, what would you do with it?
It would probably go to The Lighthouse Program. It’s new, and I would want to build a playground for the children. I’m a mom, and I really love that, and I think they need a new playground.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Alpha Mural - The Winning Title

The winner of our contest has been chosen!

The title of the Alpha mural will be:
Out of the Ashes of Our Hopelessness Comes the Fire of Our Hope.

We received lots of entries, but we think this one is the best at offering inspiration while incorporating the symbolism of the phoenix. It was submitted by an anonymous commenter to this blog.

Here are some others we also liked:

Recovery – The Rebirth of Life

Out of the Fiery Ashes, I Was Reborn

Rise From the Ashes - Fly Phoenix
..............................................................Departure Time
Non Stop to Recovery............................. Now
Non Stop to Serenity ...............................Now
Non Stop to Happiness ............................Now
Now Boarding @ the Brandywine Counseling Gate #10

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Please Join Us for The Lighthouse Program Dedication on February 21

Please join Brandywine Counseling to celebrate
the Opening of
The Lighthouse Program
For women and children
Thursday, February 21st
10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Guest of Honor
Governor Ruth Ann Minner

13726 South Old State Road
Ellendale, DE 19941

Please RSVP by
February 15th to 302.424.8080 or
lighthousersvp [at] yahoo [dot] com

Refreshments will be served.
Parking available at the church.

Brandywine Counseling is a non-profit addiction treatment provider with over twenty years of experience in providing the steps necessary to help people with drug, alcohol and mental health problems to lead productive, meaningful lives. Brandywine Counseling is licensed by the State of Delaware and accredited by The Joint Commission. Our Lighthouse Program is funded by The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

The Lighthouse Program offers the participant substance abuse and mental health treatment in a modified therapeutic community. Many activities such as individual and group therapy, life skills, computer classes, GED, trauma work and evidence based parenting classes are provided. The children will spend time in the on-site licensed childcare center or in the school during the day while their mother participates in treatment. Case managers assist women with job placement and housing during final phases of care.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Celebrating 1 Year of Needle Exchange

Today is the first anniversary of Delaware’s pilot Needle Exchange Program in Wilmington. Some stats courtesy of John Kennedy from the Division of Public Health:

180 clients are enrolled in the program. We’ve exchanged over 2,700 dirty needles for sterile ones and we’ve referred 79 clients to treatment. We’ve identified three new HIV positives who hopefully won’t infect anyone else.

BCI has been using the new spacious van since November, and it now goes to 9 sites, including evening and weekend hours. Community and police support continues to be outstanding. New clients are being referred by word of mouth, from community members, political leaders, and the police.

Congratulations to our NEP team and DPH on a successful first year!