Monday, December 28, 2009

There's Still Time to Donate in '09!

Dear Friends,

We at BCI hope you had a wonderful and joyous holiday, and we want to say thank you for your support all year!

If you're considering a year-end charitable gift, there is still time! And if you've already contributed, please forward this post to a friend.

There were so many BCI success stories to celebrate in 2009: Dawn's story, James's story, and Kevin's story, just to name a few. Right now, over 2,000 people are working on their recovery and trying to become the next success story. Your donation to Brandywine Counseling just might make a big difference for that person. It just might save a life.

You may donate conveniently and securely on All donations are tax-deductible. Your help makes our work possible.

Have a very Happy New Year, and thank you in advance for your generosity!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Giving Tree Video: We're Happy Cause We're Helpin' People!

Here's some video from yesterday's Giving Tree toy giveway. This is what the holidays are all about. In true BCI style, we partied, we joked, we sang, and we got emotional to see some of our favorite success stories stop by. A big, big thank you to Jenner's Pond, Jillian Grace Salon, Sedona Fitness and Spa, and BCI staff for donating these wonderful gifts!

From our BCI family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Giving Tree Creates Holiday Magic for BCI Clients

Today, Brandywine Counseling hosted a very special event, our first annual Giving Tree party. With the help of some generous friends, we made a little holiday magic and spread some cheer.

During the month of December, a toy drive was held to make some holiday wishes come true for our clients’ children. Several friends of BCI placed Giving Trees in their workplace, including Jenner’s Pond, Jillian Grace Salon, and Sedona Fitness and Spa. Their employees took tags from the tree and bought toys matching the age and gender of the child. We were wowed to see the mountain of gifts that came in! BCI staff also took part in the drive with our own Giving Trees at three of our locations.

Today, it was time for our elves to deliver the gifts in time for the Christmas Holiday. We hosted a “Give A Child A Gift" party at the Outreach Center, and we invited our clients to come over and choose a gift to give to their child. Refreshments were served and there was wrapping paper for parents to wrap gifts themselves.

One mom who picked up gifts for her five kids said, “It was very nice for Brandywine to do something like this.” A grandmother of two said, “This really helps. She’s gonna love the Playdoh!” Another mom who took a Lite Brite home to her daughter said, “It’s supposed to be for the kids, but it makes you feel good, too.”

You can see photos from the party here, and a video is coming shortly! Thank you to our generous donors for making our first-ever Giving Tree a success! You took time to reflect on all the “gifts” you have in your life and remembered those who could use a little help this year. You helped make this a wonderful time of year for them!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

BCI Is Open Saturday; Closed Sunday

BCI will be open today, Saturday 12/19, for medication pickup. We will be closed Sunday 12/20. Anyone who picks up medication Sunday must report today.

Stay tuned to our blog for updates on our weather-related schedule.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Last Minute Shopper? Use GoodShop and Earn a Donation for BCI.

Hey, are you doing your last-minute Christmas shopping? Here's a great way to support BCI while you shop. Buy your gifts through GoodShop, select BCI as your charity, and a percentage of your purchase goes to us!

The snow is coming this weekend... no need to go out to the mall in the storm, stay inside and shop with GoodShop!

And, don't forget to use GoodSearch, which raises a penny for BCI with every Internet search you do. You can download a convenient toolbar to use with Explorer, Firefox, or the browser of your choice.

Search the Web Free coupons at top stores
Raise money for BCI just by searching the web and shopping online!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Research BCI Before You Give, with the GuideStar Exchange

Are you thinking about a donation to charity but want to do your research first? Now, more information than ever before is available to you through the GuideStar Exchange. Find out anything you want to know about a charity, and compare one to another!

BCI knows how important this information is to you, and that's why we've become a GuideStar Exchange Valued Partner. This means we've updated our non-profit report to the fullest, including general info, financials, tax forms, programs, key policies, and key people. (Some of the information requires free registration to view.)

The GuideStar Exchange is an initiative designed to connect nonprofits with current and potential supporters. It allows us to share a wealth of up-to-date information with you to allow you to research and compare the facts of each organization. So visit BCI on GuideStar today and make an informed decision about your giving.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

James on Living With HIV/AIDS: “This Does Not Stop You.”

James was one of the first clients I met when I started at Brandywine 8 years ago. He was our first client in the NSAFE program back in 1997. In this video interview, he talks about living with HIV/AIDS and the help he’s received from NSAFE. It is a pleasure to see how well he is doing today and to bring you his story.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lawyers In Jeans Raise Money for BCI

The law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has donated $225 to BCI that they raised with an employee “Jeans Day” fundraiser. Thank you for this generous gift!

Skadden Associate Jennifer Karpe, a BCI Board member, organized this event. On December 4, employees donated $5 each to wear jeans to work. It looks like they got great participation!

The Wilmington office of Skadden, Arps handles corporate transactions, litigations, and reorganizations and restructurings for Fortune 500 companies and corporate clients. The firm places a high value on community service:

In addition to actual pro bono legal work, our lawyers have been active in a wide variety of charitable endeavors, working with, sitting on boards of, and even running, many types of civic, community, cultural, governmental, educational and medical organizations, a number of which seek to improve the lives of the less fortunate.

So we say a big “Yeh!” to Skadden for their commitment to giving back and for doing it in a fun way. It makes a big difference.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Beds Available Now at Moms and Kids’ Residential Program

The Lighthouse residential program is actively seeking referrals to fill available beds. New management would like you to know we have several vacancies for women who have children and need substance abuse and mental health treatment in a modified therapeutic community. Admission criteria are:

1. Women with up to two children under age 8
2. Mother must have custody or DFS reunification plan (or working towards) in place
3. With/without insurance
4. Authorization by the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health’s (DSAMH’s) enrollment and eligibility unit

Please call 302-424-8080 or email Natascha Hughes at nhughes[at]bcidel[dot]org if you have a referral. Also, please feel free to forward this message or post it at your facility.

Thank you so much for your assistance,
Brandywine Counseling Staff

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Your Donations In Action!

What do a roller derby team, a yoga organization, a Cleveland Browns fan club, and a retirement plan consultant have in common?

They all made donations to Brandywine Counseling in the past year. The Wilmington City Ruff Rollers helped us test 56 people for HIV. The Greater Wilmington Yoga Association helped us plan therapeutic activities to our clients. The Beach Dawgs helped brighten the holidays for recovering moms and their kids. And IPA Northeast helped us replace outdated computers with new ones. We are so proud to have such an eclectic group of donors!

These organizations may be very different, but they have one thing in common – they believe addicted people deserve help to recover. And they know that by supporting BCI’s work, they can help make sure that help is there. They took action, and they got something back: the joy of knowing they made a difference!

You can feel that joy for yourself. All you need is a desire to help. Contact BCI today to find an opportunity that fits your own personal vision. We will work together with you to turn it into meaningful action.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Marijuana No Big Deal? It Was For Him.

“It’s just weed!”

“It’s no big deal! It’s not like it’s crack or heroin.”

“It makes you all spacey, makes you laugh [cos it’s fun lol]! Go for it!”

Every day, thousands of teens pick up their first marijuana joint, because this is what they hear. They’re just looking for a good time. They’re curious. They think it won’t do any long term harm. Mike was one of those kids. He heard those things, too. But for him, marijuana became a very big deal. In fact, it became a trap that took ten years to get out of.

Mike started smoking weed at 16. For years, he used it just to relax, and no harm came of it. That soon changed. His grades started to suffer in college, and he dropped out. He drifted from job to job. He began selling drugs, was arrested for heroin possession, and did one year in jail. He continued to smoke pot with his friends and to deal with stress in his life. All the while, life’s opportunities were passing him by, but he was okay with that. He didn’t think much of it.

Things may have continued in a downward direction, had his probation officer not intervened in 2008. After a marijuana-positive drug screen, Mike was referred to treatment at Brandywine Counseling Alpha. His was one of 1613 admissions that year funded by the State of Delaware where marijuana was the primary drug of choice. He’d never tried to quit before, but he was open to the idea. It turned out to be much harder than he expected.

Mike’s counselor, Sara DeHoyos, worked with him to address his triggers for marijuana use. He tried other strategies to cope with stress. “I did other things like write music and play basketball,” he recalls. “I would let go of things I couldn’t control.” Sometimes, it worked, but sometimes it didn’t. He had to deal with the arrest and incarceration of his girlfriend, and a cutback in his hours at his job. When it became too much, it was just easier to pick up weed again. Marijuana was in his circle of friends, his mindset, and his thought processes.

Sara tried different exercises with Mike to increase his motivation to quit. They role-played, with him as the counselor and her as the client. He wrote a goodbye letter to marijuana. They talked about marijuana’s health effects: impairing the brain’s ability to form memories, exposing the lungs to more cancer-causing tar than a cigarette, and slowing coordination. Still, Mike struggled to stop using.

“Writing the goodbye letter would’ve helped if I was 100% sure about quitting,” Mike admits. “I did it to please my counselor instead of helping myself.” He wasn’t attending his required groups either. He had few options left: Transfer to a new counselor? Go to an inpatient program? Move to Florida to live with his father? None of those options was attractive.

One day, trying to make up his mind what to do, Mike asked his counselor a question. He asked her to make him a list. “Where will I end up if I keep using?” he asked. “What would happen?” Sara wrote down a long list and handed to him. Mike read it over. At the bottom, the last item caught his attention. It said, “Michael will be another statistic.”

That sentence hit him hard, and made him think. “Being ‘another statistic’ made me realize how serious addiction is, and that I’m not exempt from what it leads to. I didn’t want to be labeled in a negative way, and wanted people to remember me for something special before I’m gone.”

Around the same time, his probation officer violated him for continued drug use, and recommended a higher level of care. Mike’s mother suggested the same thing. Mike agreed with them. In May 2009, he agreed to enter inpatient treatment at Gateway Foundation for 4 ½ months. “I went to Gateway because I knew I couldn’t do this on my own, and I needed more intense treatment.”

He realized that drug use had caused him to settle for less in his life. He saw the opportunities he was missing out on. More intense and structured treatment was something he needed, and he even looked forward to it. “It was one of the best decisions of my life,” he says today. “I’m glad I went because I found out a lot about myself.”

Mike’s stay at Gateway was difficult, but it worked. He was finally able to quit marijuana. After his successful discharge from Gateway in October, he returned to Alpha for aftercare. He now has five months clean and continues to work with Sara on coping with anxiety and resisting peer pressure from friends to smoke weed. He knows staying clean will be a challenge, but he’s committed to his recovery, and also to sharing his story to help others.

“I wish people knew that marijuana can cause cancer and it ruins your brain cells,” he says. “It also takes away your determination to do more in life. Marijuana gets downplayed a lot because it’s not as harmful as other drugs, but it’s still a drug. People [who continue to use marijuana] will become content with life and may develop a non-caring attitude. They also are vulnerable to other drug use and severe health problems.”

The State of Delaware is working to reduce marijuana use from 16% to 12% among 8th graders, and from 28% to 21% among 11th graders, as part of the Healthy Delaware 2010 Plan. The goal is to prevent today’s kids from going down the road that Mike did. Because just like them, Mike never expected that picking up weed at 16 would someday land him in a drug treatment program.

He’s grateful to have found the help he needed at Brandywine and Gateway. It enabled him to avoid more jail time and is helping him rebuild his life. He looks forward to finishing his business degree, and continuing to pursue his music. “I feel motivated to do good things and take control of my life,” he says. “I think I can help a lot of people if I stay on the right track.”

BCI Alpha is funded by and is part of the system of public services offered by Delaware Health and Social Services, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. For more information, please call 302-472-0381.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Philanthropy in the First State": A Report on Delaware's Social Safety Net

Today, the Delaware Philanthropy Forum presented a report titled "Philanthropy in the First State: Delaware's Nonprofits, Individual Donors, and Grantmaking Organizations." It's a look at what comprises the social safety net in our state and how we compare to the rest of the nation.

The Delaware Philanthropy Forum is a group of donor leaders from Delaware’s corporate, private foundation and federated business and nonprofit communities. The primary objective of the Forum is to support Delaware's nonprofit sector.

Here are some of the report's findings:
  • Delaware's nonprofits are, as a group, financially fragile. More than 35% of Delaware nonprofits operated in the red each year from 2002-2007.
  • Delaware is home to 390 private independent foundations, which awarded $333 million in grants in 2007; however, only $60 million of these dollars went to support Delaware-based organizations, and the majority of this came from only 8 foundations.
  • Delawareans give to charity at a higher rate than the national average; however, the amount we give is 9% lower than average.
  • Corporate giving may provide less support than imagined. Documented corporate giving from Delaware-based entities comprised less than 2% of the state's organized philanthropy in 2007.

These are very interesting stats at a time when more and more people need services and non-profits are having to do more with less. You can find a copy of the full report here for more details on these findings.

Tom McLellan on Who's Winning the War on Drugs

Tom McLellan, Deputy Director of the White House drug czar's office, is interviewed in this article from The New Republic. He discusses a wide range of topics, including needle exchange, medical marijuana, and prescription drug abuse. We found it very interesting. It's long, so you might want to read it over coffee.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Magic Group

“Do Not Disturb. Magic Group in Session.”

There’s no such sign outside the door at the end of the second floor hallway, but if there were, that’s what it might say. It’s an exclusive club, invitation only. They meet here three days a week, from 9 AM to noon. And there’s a positive energy in the air; so much so, that walking in on a session feels like you’re interrupting something very important. Some have taken to calling it the Magic Group.

Whatever they call it, the group of 17 people at the Brandywine Counseling Lancaster Center is hard at work on their recovery. Sean, 28, who’s been attending for four weeks, describes what goes on. “It is at times really good, because we get a lot of people in here that are eager. We’ve got a good mix of people, different cultures, different people at different stages. [Some are just] starting to learn about their addiction; other people have been through programs like this before, and those people are willing to help other people.”

Sean is part of the IOP, or Intensive Outpatient Program. Run by counselor Janine Rinderle, the IOP consists of 3 hours of group counseling, 3 days a week, as well as individual counseling. It’s a higher level of care designed to help participants set and work toward their goals for recovery.

Brandywine introduced the service in 2009 at Lancaster and two other locations, realizing that traditional monthly counseling wasn’t enough for some patients. Unable to remain abstinent, they were at risk of discharge from the methadone program, which often leads to relapse. This was despite having consistent attendance and making a good effort in treatment. Patients who fit this profile and meet other medical criteria and agency requirements, are now recruited by staff for the IOP.

Sean was one of those on the verge of discharge. Traditional treatment had worked for him at first, but only for so long. “I just hit a crossroads after awhile, a couple months in. Once I got clean, I guess I needed something a little more than once a month. My counselor approached me to say they might recommend me for the IOP. I didn’t get too much information before I got in, because it was a new program.”

It was a similar situation for “Charles,” 38, who has been in the IOP for two months. “Recovery is hard for me. I was clean for five years straight. One day I relapsed, and since that time, I’ve been trying to pick myself up again. I thought I could do it by myself, but you can’t. When you’re an addict, you need help. You need the support.”

Joining the IOP is a big commitment. Participants not only have to be willing to do the work, they have to make time for the three hour sessions. “When I heard about the IOP, I was a little skeptical,” says Sean. “Coming here, it’s gonna cut into my time.” But his commitment brought unexpected benefits. “I’m a little more active. I wake up [and] get my day started a little earlier. And you meet more people here.” He’d never socialized much with other people on the clinic, but that has started to change.

Charles also came in with doubts. “In the beginning, I was a little nervous talking [in group], like everybody. But it’s coming along. I’m glad I’m in here. In group, we all get along. In the beginning, everybody was quiet, but we all give feedback now. I’ve got people to help me, and that’s what I like. Now I’ve got my support.”

Janine uses a wide variety of activities to help keep group members engaged, including psychoeducational components, art therapy, and goal setting. At times, she lets group members dictate where the topic goes. She has them practice relaxation techniques, and teaches skills to reduce anxiety. This is particularly useful in slowing down a craving when it occurs.

“Far too often, a craving occurs and is immediately acted upon,” she explains. “But if clients give themselves the chance to work through some of the thoughts associated with the craving, they may avoid following through with the urge to use.”

The most important technique she tries to use in group is a client-centered approach. “I want to create an environment where group members feel ownership of the group, where they feel safe and not judged. Giving members unconditional positive regard allows them to try new behaviors and ways of thinking within the context of the group. The group is a time where they can really work on things with the help and support of myself, but also the other group members who have been through similar trials and struggles.”

Charles has been able to take what he’s learned and make changes in his life. “The therapy she’s giving us, it’s good, believe me! I’m using the tools right now with this person in my life, a drug dealer. I’ve changed my ways with my behavior. All the feedback I’ve taken, it’s working for me.”

Sean has also gained insight from the group. “Being in a group helped a lot, seeing everyone else struggling, it wasn’t just me. I think it’s the more time in here, the more time we spend with the people, and the counselor. Three days a week and three hours long, that’s what’s really helping us.”

“The biggest progress I see in clients is a change in their motivation,” says Janine. “Many of them enter the IOP angry, frustrated, and hesitant; however, after a few weeks, I begin to see big changes in how they relate to one another, how much they open up in group, and the newfound motivation to become engaged and to take more of a proactive role in their recovery.

“I think the magic is that group members have become very close with one another. They meet three days a week and while some were hesitant at first to open up, it wasn't long before they were all sharing personal experiences. The closeness that has formed between them is, I think, what helps them feel supported and understood.”

The first seven members of IOP are about to successfully complete the program, many of them long-time drug users who have provided their first ever negative drug screen. There is a waiting list to get in. Many clients hear about the program by word of mouth, or when they see fellow clients like Sean sticking with treatment and doing better. “I think people are starting to hear more about it,” he says. “It’s starting to get a little buzz out there, as more people learn about it.”

Or they hear it from Charles, who would be back on the street right now if not for the program. They hear how the IOP turned his frustration into motivation. “I brought myself in here. If I’m doing it without missing days, that means I care. I want change. I take it one day at a time.

“The thing is good! I like it!”

Now that is magic.

Brandywine Counseling services are funded by and is part of the system of public services offered by Delaware Health and Social Services, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. For more information, please call 302-656-2348.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What If You Could Save A Life With Just A Dollar?

Season's Greetings!

Brandywine Counseling would like to say thank you for your past support. You've helped so many people embrace sobriety and overcome their behavioral health challenges.

This holiday season, as you consider the many charitable requests you receive, ask yourself this question. What if you could save a life with just a dollar? For a recovering person, it just might make a big difference.

Here's what Brandywine Counseling can do with even the smallest gift:
  • $1 will buy 14 condoms or 12 sterile syringes to protect someone from HIV.
  • $5 will buy a hot meal for someone who comes to us hungry.
  • $10 will buy a bus pass for someone without a car to get to treatment and search for a job.

So believe me when I say a few dollars can indeed save a life! Of course, if you can afford to give more, your gift will go even further.
  • $50 will give someone 50 minutes of face to face time with a counselor.
  • $100 will assist ten people in obtaining an evaluation for treatment.
  • $500 will keep our equipment and facilities up to date so we can provide the best possible service.
You may donate conveniently and securely on Brandywine Counseling saves lives every day, and your donation makes it possible. On behalf of the Board of Directors, the staff and those we serve, I wish you all the joys of the holiday season, and thank you in advance for your generosity.


David A. Oppold, President
Board of Directors

P.S. - Watch your donation in action by visiting for our latest updates, photos, and success stories! Subscribe to our e-newsletter, and join the conversation on our blog.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day Calendar of Events

Today is World AIDS Day. The following is a list of events taking place today in Delaware, courtesy of the Division of Public Health.

New Castle County

AIDS Delaware
Westminster Church,1502 W. 13th St, Wilmington, DE 19801
7:30 p.m.
Interfaith Service and Candlelight Vigil - a moment of remembrance with the calling of names of those who have died from HIV/AIDS.

Beautiful Gate Outreach Center
Bethel A.M.E. Church Annex, 604 N. Walnut Street, Wilmington, DE 19801
9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Encouraging HIV testing, outreach, free food and giveaways available.

Resurrection Center
3301 N. Market Street, Wilmington, De 19802
7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Prayer and Healing Service for Families and Friends Affected by HIV/AIDS.

Latin American Community Center (LACC)
Los Jardines, 100 West 5th Street, Wilmington, DE 19805(event location)
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
The Latin American Community Center HIV Prevention Program will host a movie night event where participants will view a film dealing with the impact and stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS within the Latino community and use this film as a topic for discussion with participants to raise awareness and promote the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention education.Refreshments will be provided.

Kent County

Kent/Sussex Counseling Services
John Wesley A. M. E. Church, 217 West Division Street, Dover DE 19904
6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Candlelight ceremony and reading of names along with speakers from the community. Light refreshments.

Faith, Hope & Love Christian Fellowship
218 N. Rehoboth Blvd. Milford, DE 19963
6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
An Evening of Remembrance service, community awareness and information.

Sussex County

CAMP Rehoboth
Art Reception: 37 Baltimore Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
4:30 – 6 p.m.Line-up for the walk 6:15 p.m.Starts at 7 p.m. Kick-off will be with an art exhibit featuring exhibits by HIV+ artist.

Candlelight Walk: Rehoboth Beach Bandstand, Rehoboth Beach
The Candlelight Walk of Hope and Remembrance will step-off at 6:30 p.m.

The Service of Remembrance: All Saints Parish, 18 Olive Street, Rehoboth Beach
After the Candlelight Walk, All Saints Episcopal will host a Remembrance service with the reading of the names of community members who have died of AIDS. A light supper in the All Saints parish house will conclude the evening.

Kent/ Sussex Counseling Services
Christ United Methodist Church, 510 S. Central Ave.Laurel, DE 19956
6– 7:30 p.m.
Candlelight ceremony and reading of names along with speakers from the community. Light refreshments.

Lared Health Center
The Georgetown Circle, Georgetown, DE 19947
12Noon- 5 p.m.
Free confidential HIV Counseling & Testing will be offered on the mobile test van.

5 – 7 p.m.
Program of remembrance & hope followed by a candlelight walk. Light refreshments.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Deemed Status Awarded to Two BCI Sites

Congratulations to the BCI Lancaster Center and Alpha Center for receiving Deemed Status from the State of Delaware! This means State auditors found the quality of care we provide is sufficiently high to merit a two-year license rather than the usual one year. It is the first time we applied for and received Deemed Status. This is a credit to the staff at these two locations and to our internal auditors (who have been said to be even more strict than the State). Well done!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks to everyone who came and enjoyed our annual Thanksgiving Dinner. We enjoyed cooking and serving for you. Have a happy holiday from all of us at BCI!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Honors for BCI Staff

Two of our staff members are being recognized for excellent work.

Edna Maldonado of NSAFE will be honored for her diligence and commitment in the fight against HIV/AIDS at the 16th Annual Reach-Out Sunday, Nov. 22, 8 AM and 10:30 AM at Bethel AME Church, 604 N. Walnut St. Attendees are asked to bring a new clothing item for an adult male or female living with HIV/AIDS.

Chris Zebley of Christiana Care will receive the 2010 American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Nurse Practitioner Award for Excellence. This prestigious award is given annually to a dedicated nurse practitioner in each state who demonstrates excellence in their area of practice. He will be recognized for this achievement during the 2010 AANP National Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

Both Edna and Chris do an awesome job with a very challenging population, and deserve this credit. Congratulations!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2009 Annual Report

Brandywine Counseling proudly presents our 2009 Annual Report. Click to view our highlights of the past year and our goals for 2010, over a backdrop of artwork created by our talented client artists.

Here is just a small sample of what we achieved this year:
  • The Delaware Needle Exchange has exchanged over 28,000 syringes, enrolled over 650 participants, and identified 14 HIV positives in nearly three years of operation.
  • 449 methadone patients (40%) have at least 90 days of abstinence.
  • The Alpha outpatient program discharged 44% of patients successfully or with some goals completed.
  • Intensive Outpatient Services were introduced at Lancaster, Alpha, and Lighthouse to offer a higher level of care to individuals not succeeding in the traditional program.
  • The Newark Center saw a 25% increase in the number of patients remaining in treatment for one year or more.

We could not do the work we do without your support. Thank you for making 2009 a year of success for us and for those we serve!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

BCI Is Closed November 18-19

Brandywine Counseling will be closed Wednesday November 18, and Thursday November 19 for an agency-wide staff training.

We will be providing take-home bottles to all consumers from 5 AM to 9 AM.

We will reopen Friday November 20.

Thanksgiving Events at BCI

Thanksgiving Week is almost here, and BCI is celebrating with our two traditional events.

Monday November 23 is Thanksgving Turkey pick-up day! If you signed up to receive a basket this year, you may pick up your turkey at the Outreach Center between 6 AM and 3 PM. If you are a client at Newark, Edgemoor, or in Sussex County, your turkey will be available for pickup at your regular site.

Wednesday November 25 will be our annual Holiday Dinner! It will take place at the Westside Plaza shopping center on Lancaster Avenue, in the old Rent-A-Center, from 11 AM to 3 PM. All clients are welcome to come and enjoy the food & fun. We, the staff of BCI, will cook for you on this day. So come, have some fun, food, and fellowship with us.


From the staff at BCI

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Needle Exchange Update

Can you believe it will be 3 years in February since we started needle exchange in Delaware? Here's an update on the program:
  • 653 clients are enrolled in the City of Wilmington's Needle Exchange Pilot Program, exchanging more than 28,000 needles. This means that we have incinerated over 28,000 potentially infectious syringes and removed them from our streets. Since it is a one-for-one exchange, there is virtually no needle litter problem anymore.
  • 402 participants self-reported that they were referred by another NEP client. This proves that word-of-mouth advertising is what works with this population. 4 people reported that they were referred by law enforcement.
  • Caucasian clients make up 69% of the membership; however, we are working on increasing the participation of African Americans using the social networking strategy called the LINK program. We are asking existing members to refer their peers. Since it began in February, LINK has 97 members, 79 of them recruited by existing members.
  • We've made 72 formal referrals to drug treatment, of which 46 have successfully entered treatment. This does not include informal referrals we make all the time and at just about every instance of exchange.
  • 1711 rapid HIV tests have been completed on the van. 84 of those were people tested for the first time. 14 of them were newly identified positive individuals. Almost 300 of the 1711 HIV tests were NEP clients, but more than 1300 of the tests were provided to members of the community where the NEP operates. These individuals accessed HIV testing because we brought the service to them. As a result of our success at reaching these residents, we are planning to begin offering the combination hepatitis A and B vaccine on the NEP in the coming weeks.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Out Of the Dark, A New Dawn

On a bus stop bench on a frigid February morning, a young couple sat together shivering, and counting down the minutes until 9:00.

“How much longer?” Dawn asked her boyfriend.

“Four more minutes.”

Dawn broke into a smile in spite of the stinging cold. “Oh, I can’t wait! Soon they’ll open up… it’ll be so warm inside!”

He smiled back. “In four minutes, I’m gonna be layin’ on that comfy couch and gettin’ some sleep!”

A miserable, exhausting night neared its end. They had spent it at the bus stop on Lancaster Avenue, with all their belongings in their backpacks, and only their coats to keep them warm. But at 9:00, right behind them, they had a place they were welcome in the Brandywine Counseling Outreach Center. Dawn watched the buses come and go, full of people with places to go and things to do. Her plans today were simple: Get warm. Find some food. Hide from probation. Then, find some more heroin. Tomorrow, she’d do it all again. It wasn’t always this way. Six years ago, she had a normal life, a job, and a place to live. But one seemingly innocent car ride led her off course.

“I was working in a restaurant, and one of the other employees was asking me for rides. When he was getting out of the car, he was picking up drugs. I got curious about what he was picking up, and he let me try the heroin just by sniffing it one time. Eventually, he ran out of money to pay me for the rides, so he would start giving me drugs instead of gas money. I started to get sick if I wouldn’t use it, so I started to use it every day.”

“For a little while, I was okay. I could afford it. I started to be late for work. I started spending all my money on only drugs. I had to move back in with my parents, then I started to steal from them. I lost my job. I started stealing from cars and people’s houses, and ended up on probation.”

Dawn’s choices had led her down a destructive path of addiction, homelessness, and being on the run at age 27. She met her boyfriend and they stuck together, but there seemed to be no way out. They weren’t looking for help; only to survive. It was rare to find a friendly face that understood where they were. BCI case manager Sharon Brown was one who did.

“Hey, guys. Need a light?”

“Nah, we smoked our last cigarette hours ago.”

“Here. We’re not supposed to do this, but go on, take it.”

“Oh, thank you so much!”

“It’s too cold for y’all to be out here. Why don’t you come inside? There’s coffee and donuts. I can get you warm clothes, a place to wash up. You can crash on the couch, watch TV, read some books…”

Since that day, the pair became regulars at the drop-in center. “It became like a little home to us,” Dawn recalls. “We would go inside during the day, and sleep in there, and at nighttime we would just stay outside all night.” She began to trust the outreach staff. She began using their services, taking HIV tests, and visiting the needle exchange van. She learned about other services she wasn’t yet ready for.

“They would let us know that the methadone clinic was there, but they never seemed like they were judging us, or trying to push us into anything we didn’t want to do. They knew that we knew the services were there, and that we would use them when we were ready to.”

One day, a probation officer came to the bus stop. He took Dawn into custody, and she served six months in jail. In July 2008, she was released and reunited with her boyfriend. They were both free of drugs for a while, and even found themselves an apartment. But by September, they had relapsed and were using heroin again. They returned to the needle exchange.

“When we started coming back, they knew we were using again. They were a little more adamant this time. ‘You guys really need to try methadone this time, before you end up back in the situation that you were in.’” The couple faced a difficult decision.

“No way I’m gettin’ on methadone. It’s just another way to get high. It’s just as bad!”

“Well, I’ve heard those stories too, but what about the people we know who got on it? Seemed like it was working for them.”

“That’s true. They do look better. They’ve got jobs, they look stable.”

“Why don’t we try it? It’s the only thing we haven’t tried.”

With that, a window of trust had opened. The next morning, Dawn and her boyfriend went in to BCI, and they both started on methadone. She knew it would be a challenge to make her daily dosing, individuals, and groups, but she committed to getting clean as strongly as she had committed to getting drugs. Sharon Brown continued supporting her as her Safety Net Services case manager. Safety Net specifically targets two high-risk groups, women and recently released ex-offenders, often living on the streets. Knowing that willingness to accept help comes and goes, case managers meet clients where they are, ready to connect them to services they need when that window opens.

“Sharon was a big help,” says Dawn. “She’s always checked on us, made sure we have everything that we needed. I’m glad the outreach really latched on to [us].” But there was a big surprise for Dawn on her intake day. Nurse Barbara Garrity gave her the news at orientation.

“Now just to let you ladies know, when you get on methadone, it seems like it’s a lot easier to get pregnant. But Dawn, you’re already pregnant!”

“Oh! Really? Wow, that’s quite a surprise!”

“Yes! But we have a program just for pregnant women."

Dawn was 4 weeks along. Her surprise quickly turned to motivation to stick with treatment. She was determined to deliver a healthy baby. She was transferred to the pregnant and parenting women's program, which assists over 20 clients every year to deliver drug free babies. Her counselor, Aja Redmond, linked her with prenatal care, helped her identify her triggers for drug use, and taught her about FAS and nutrition. Four months into treatment, Dawn was staying abstinent. Things were going well. It was then that the couple received another surprise.

“We’re having twins! Oh, wow… two babies? How are we going to do this?”

“Don’t worry, Dawn, we can deal with it. Just one more obstacle in our way.”

“This is so difficult… I’m staying clean and doing what I need to do, but every day something else comes up.”

“Yeah, it would probably be easier to go back to the streets and start gettin’ high. But look at all the good things we’ve accomplished. We’ve come too far to throw it all away.”

And so, preparing for twins became the latest challenge in their shared journey to recovery. “We were already together when we were looking to get clean. We weren’t willing to separate for any reason, so we had to do it together.” Dawn recalls. “[It helped,] having somebody to walk through it with you, share all the ups and downs, and remind you how far you’ve come and where you still want to go.”

Dawn had support not only from her boyfriend, but from Aja and the women's program. She redoubled her efforts to set and achieve goals, worked on her parenting skills, and cut back on smoking. As her due date approached, a case manager made a home visit, making sure they had food, clothes, and baby furniture. On May 15, Dawn gave birth to healthy, identical twin boys.

“Being in a relationship and having the babies helped me get clean, because it gave me a reason to want to move forward in life,” she says. “Having the children and having a partner that loves you and is there for you, gave me my life back.”

Today, Dawn’s children are 4 months old, and she is nearing one year clean. She is a picture of composure as she tells her story and tends to her sons at the same time. She shifts one baby from her arms into a stroller to pick up the other, then reverses again. As they fuss, she remains calm and soothing, wiping mouths, giving them their bottles, even laughing cheerfully to herself as her son’s expression changes from restless to content. She shows no trace of her former life on the streets, sleeping at bus stops. She looks like a mom.

“I think for the two of us to go from where we were, to where we are now, it’s all pretty much thanks to Brandywine. This is the longest period of clean time either one of us has had. Being able to come up here every day and be accountable for your actions, and have people checking in on you, along with the medication that you get, has made us successful.”

Dawn sees a bright future ahead for her family. Life is not simply about surviving anymore; it’s about building a future for herself and for them. They’ve moved into a relative’s house, and they have a car. She hopes to one day own a home, put the children in a good school, and go back to school herself. For now, she wants to stay clean and sober, enjoy family life, and continue to build her support system. She’s on the right course again, and it all started with a friendly face offering food and shelter, no strings attached.

“It feels like a blessing. It feels that God was with me all along, and He’s looked out for me, and that He made a way for me to get better, and as long as I continue to follow it, things will continue to get better. It hasn’t been easy for us at all, but we’ve been able to get through it. I’m very happy with the way things are now.”

Brandywine Counseling services are funded by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA/CSAT; and Delaware Health and Social Services, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. For more information, please call 302-656-2348.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Interns, Interns Everywhere!

Brandywine Counseling's internship program has grown by leaps and bounds over the past year. We currently have over 90 students involved in a project around our agency! This is a big help to our staff while providing real-world experience for the interns.

The Alpha program has been working with interns for close to two years. Site Director Mark Lanyon has partnered with several local schools to get the word out about our program and make it a sought-after destination for many students. Our internship program really started at Alpha, and now our other locations are jumping on board.

The Outreach department and Lancaster Avenue site have started a "service learning" partnership with Del Tech. It began because a Human Services professor thought some field work would be valuable to her intro students, rather than waiting until all of their coursework was completed. It's mutally beneficial; we can depend on a group of students each semester to complete tasks, while we teach the next group of people coming to us after they graduate for full time jobs. The work they will do for us will prepare them for the "real world" of human services. There are 68 students working with us through this project.

In addition, Outreach is working with nursing students from the University of Delaware. These interns are assisting with the Needle Exchange to do rapid HIV testing, educate about safe injection and overdose prevention, and have discussions with users about their sexual health. This opportunity gives the interns a wonderful opportunity to practice working with real individuals. 16 nursing students are currently with us.

We'd like to thank all the professors and administrators who have helped our internship program grow to this level: Karen Stevenson and Terry Fisher at Del Tech, Elaine Greggo at the University of Delaware, Sandra Brisiel at Del Tech, John Corrozi of Wilmington University, Norma Gaines-Hanks of UD, Vanessa Johnson of West Chester University, Carla Strassle of York College of Pennsylvania, and John Smith of Seton Hall University.

If you'd like to intern at BCI, here's how to apply. Yes, believe it or not, there are still some of us staff without one! You can have a clinical background, but also communications or technology.

Monday, November 2, 2009

BCI to Offer Clients Yoga, Thanks to Donation

BCI would like to send a big thanks to the Greater Wilmington Yoga Association for their donation of $2,000. These funds will be used to enable our clients to experience the therapeutic benefits of yoga. The group is unfortunately dissolving and wanted to donate the money they had left in their account. We are honored and grateful that they remembered us and thought enough of BCI and our clients to make a donation.

Details on our yoga activities and how clients can take part will be announced shortly. Thank you to Michele Hensey and the GWYA board for this generous gift!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Volunteer Spotlight: Gwen Cichocki, Outreach Support

Gwen Cichocki is a longtime volunteer with us in our Outreach Center. For several years, she's come in once a week to work in the clothes closet, restock supplies, and do many other small but necessary jobs to help out the outreach team. In this video by Will Leitz, Gwen talks about the work she does, and why it's personal for her. We couldn't do what we do without the help of people like Gwen!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Long-Term and Visible Approach to Recovery

The New York Times has a nice article on the growing network of peer-to-peer services for recovering persons in Philadelphia. Specifically, they mention the Philadelphia Recovery Community Center, which focuses on more long-term recovery support than was traditionally available. The model is considered a promising practice.

Views are shifting toward recovery as a long-term process, and also toward greater visibility.

“One of the most important things we’ve done in Philadelphia is to create a vibrant and visible recovery community,” said Arthur C. Evans, who has led the city’s transformation over the past five years as chief of behavioral health. “Hundreds of people are speaking out about being in recovery, and that’s having a tremendous impact on people who may not think they’re ready to change.”
While treatment centers like BCI continue to protect confidentiality, many people in treatment choose to "go public" about their recovery in order to connect with and take advantage of what the peer-to-peer community has to offer. If this helps more people prevent relapse and make greater progress than they had before, then it must be a good thing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bill Gates Brings HIV Outreach to India

One of the counselors here directed me to a very interesting video on HIV prevention in India. Bill Gates’ foundation is partnering with the transgender Aravaani population to do some innovative and much-needed outreach work. We don’t often hear about HIV/AIDS in this part of the world or this population in particular. As you’ll see, they're using a prevention strategy that’s quite similar to the NIDA Community Outreach model BCI uses, in that a high risk population is being trained as peer educators, harmful behaviors are discussed candidly, and outreach workers are bringing services to where their clients are, like beauty salons. This looks like great work and hopefully it will have an impact.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Delaware's Homeless Veteran Stand Down

On Sunday October 31, 2009, the Homeless Planning Council of Delaware will be hosting the first Delaware 2009 Stand Down/Veterans’ Employment Expo. This will be a one day event to begin at 9 am and end at 5 pm. This event will take place at the Nur Temple, 198 South DuPont Highway, New Castle, Delaware located on route 13 just before the 13/40 split.

Stand Down refers to a grassroots, community-based intervention program designed to help the nation’s estimated 200,000 homeless veterans “combat” life on the streets.

The schedule of activities is as follows:

9-10 am - Breakfast & Registration (Quick Registration is done at the door; however every Veteran needs to be registered with the VA inside of the Stand Down Room)

10-12 pm - VA Services Discussion (Veterans will have the opportunity to hear about all of the services offered at the VA Medical Center – time will be allowed for Veterans to visit the different ‘departments’ and to have individual conversations about the services provided.)

12–1 pm - Lunch & Networking

1-2 pm - Job Expo, Hair Cuts/Clothing Closet

2-4 pm - Community Providers Discussion (Community Providers will be set up at each of the 9 tables for Veterans to hear about the services offered in the community – time will be allowed for Veterans to have individual conversations about the services provided.)

4-4:30 pm - Fashion Show/Job Expo, Hair Cuts/Clothing Closet

4:30–5 pm - Closing Ceremony, Receive Backpacks o’ Goodies

· AA Meetings will be held in the Small Room during the VA Services Discussion and Community Providers Discussion times

· Volunteers will be available to assist Veterans to complete Forms during the Registration, Lunch, and Free Times (1-2 and 4-4:30)

Transportation will be provided to veterans throughout the State. For more information about transportation pick-up locations and times, please contact Susan Starrett at (302) 654-0126.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Treatment Cuts Recidivism Nearly in Half

From the Harm Reduction Coalition:

Criminal offenders who completed in-prison and community-based treatment were far less likely to end up back in prison than those who did not get services, according to a new report from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). reported Oct. 8 that the report -- released as the state of California planned to slash funding for prison-based treatment programs -- found that the return-to-custody rate among treatment graduates was 21.9 percent at one year and 35.3 percent after two years, compared to 39.9 percent and 54.2 percent, respectively, for all offenders.

The research showed that treatment was especially affected for female offenders, just 8.8 percent of whom reoffended within a year of release if they completed treatment. That compared to a recidivism rate of 30.1 percent overall. After two years, the recidivism rate was 16.5 percent for women who completed treatment, compared to 43.7 percent among all offenders.

That's an impressive return on treatment.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Give An Hour" Offers Free Counseling for Veterans

One of my co-workers told me about a great program today that I wanted to pass along. Give An Hour offers free therapy sessions to veterans and their families. The sessions are donated by licensed mental health professionals, one hour a week, free of charge, to anyone who is or has been affected by the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of our staff at BCI Alpha is taking part in this program through his private practice with a client who's served multiple tours in Afghanistan. This is a wonderful idea and there is sure to be great demand. If you would like to find a participating provider or become a volunteer, visit

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Take a "Mental Health Day" October 10

Saturday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day. The celebration is part of a global awareness campaign by the World Federation for Mental Health. The organization works to improve attitudes about mental illness; promote mental health and prevent mental illness; and improve the care, treatment, and recovery of people with mental illness.

So, take a "mental health day" this Saturday! Here's a video to help you do that, courtesy of Osocio Weblog. What makes you smile? British balloons singing? Yeah, that'll do it for me. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

SAMHSA Warns About Deadly Cocaine Cutting Agent

According to a SAMHSA alert, substance abuse treatment providers, clinicians, outreach workers, and individuals who abuse cocaine need to be aware of the following:

A dangerous substance, levamisole, is showing up with increasing frequency in illicit cocaine powder and crack cocaine. Levamisole can severely reduce the number of white blood cells, a problem called agranulocytosis. THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS ILLNESS THAT NEEDS TO BE TREATED AT A HOSPITAL. If you use cocaine, watch out for:
* high fever, chills, or weakness
* swollen glands
* painful sores (mouth, anal)
* any infection that won’t go away or gets worse very fast, including sore throat or mouth sores -skin infections, abscesses -thrush (white coating of the mouth, tongue, or throat) -pneumonia (fever, cough, shortness of breath).”

SAMHSA said that about 20 cases of the dangerous blood disorder agranulocytosis -- characterized by decreased white blood-cell counts -- have been linked to use of cocaine cut with levamisole. More cases are expected based on drug-sample testing that shows increased use of levamisole as a cutting agent. In Seattle, for example, 80 percent of individuals who tested positive for cocaine also tested positive for levamisole. Levamisole is not approved for human use but is used to treat parasitic infections in cattle, sheep and swine.

BCI staff have learned from SAMHSA that one case was in fact in Delaware. Our staff on the needle exchange are warning people. This is very serious for our HIV+ and other immuno-compromised clients.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Recovery Month Barbeque

BCI fired up the grill and the music at our Outreach Center for a Saturday afternoon Recovery Month celebration.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's On Your Recovery Playlist?

What songs come to mind when you think of recovery or drug treatment? Do you have a favorite? One that's inspired you personally? One that reminds you of BCI? I've been thinking about music that relates to what BCI does, even since reading a post called "What's Your Non-Profit's Soundtrack?" at Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog.

While I'm not in recovery myself, I am a music fan and I thought of several topical songs right off the bat. I asked some other staff and they gave me more suggestions, and I did a little more searching, and put together an Imeem playlist for BCI, which you can listen to below. So far, we've got a pretty good variety - some singer-songwriters, some gospel, some alternative, and even a bit of humor.

Now we want you to add to our list! Know of a song we should include? Post it in the comments. You can even make your own Imeem playlist and post the link. We'll take suggestions for awhile and then put up a poll so you can vote and pick the best BCI songs! Maybe we'll even play the winning BCI Soundtrack at a special event.

Here are a few tips:
1. Obviously we want songs that are clearly anti-drug, not pro or ambiguous. "Heroin" by the Velvet Underground is one of those open-to-interpretation songs.
2. Many songs offer a message of hope without specifically being about addiction recovery. We included "I Believe I Can Fly" even though it could apply to about any "helping organization." The more specific to BCI, the better!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Recovery Month Softball Tournament 2009

Pics are up from Friday's 4th annual Sober Softball Tournament, which was won this year by Fellowship Health. Thanks to all the teams: Aquila, DSAMH, Thresholds, BCI Lancaster, and BCI Sussex.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Brandywine Counseling Awarded Federal Funds for Homeless Program

Brandywine Counseling Awarded $1.75 Million in Federal Funds
5 Year Project Will Expand Treatment for Delaware’s Homeless

WILMINGTON, DE – (September 18, 2009) – Brandywine Counseling, Inc. (BCI), a non-profit provider of addiction, mental health, and HIV/AIDS services, today announced they have been awarded a five-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (SAMHSA/CSAT) to serve homeless substance abusers in Sussex County, Delaware.

The program will be called STEP, Support, Treatment, Engagement, and Prevention. It will admit 200 homeless substance abusers and conduct 400 assessments annually in rural Sussex County. The target population has an average substance abuse history of over 8 years, with 3 or more treatment failures and dependence on more than one substance. The average client has co-occurring addiction and mental illness; primary health care needs; and is involved in the criminal justice and/or child welfare system. STEP will address the system and clinical barriers that currently hinder their long-term stability and health; specifically, uncoordinated services that frequently have incompatible service requirements, lack of affordable permanent housing, and no public transportation in an area where services are geographically dispersed.

STEP will provide evidence-based interventions through an integrated nested services approach, including substance abuse, mental health and primary healthcare treatment in conjunction with intensive case management and ancillary services. BCI will partner with a network of affiliated agencies, including La Red Health Center, Crisis House, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The primary goal of STEP is to improve stability, health, and quality of life by facilitating sobriety, treating mental health symptoms, treating health issues, stabilizing and improving housing and employment, and reducing criminal activity.

Sen. Edward E. Kaufman (D-Del.) said of the award, “The grant that Brandywine Counseling was awarded will provide proven services to those most in need. Groups like La Red and Crisis House, along with the Department of Veterans Affairs, have turned around countless lives through the years, and this funding will allow them to expand their ability to help in Sussex County. My hope is that this opens hopeful and recuperative doors to the downtrodden who have nowhere left to turn.”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). SAMHSA’s vision, “A Life in the Community for Everyone,” is based on the premise that people of all ages, with or at risk for mental or substance use disorders, should have the opportunity for a fulfilling life that includes a job/education, a home, and meaningful personal relationships with friends and family. SAMHSA works to achieve this vision through an action-oriented, measurable mission of “Building Resilience and Facilitating Recovery.”

Brandywine Counseling, Inc. is a community organization that provides holistic care to persons and their families living with addiction, mental health, and HIV-related challenges. BCI is Delaware’s largest provider of addiction services, serving over 2,000 clients age 18 and over at seven locations statewide. For more information, please visit

For more information on STEP, please contact Sheera Lipshitz, Director of Sussex County Services at 302-856-4700.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Client-Counselor Team to be Honored

BCI Counselor Keith Kaut and his client James M. will be honored at the state of Delaware's Annual Recovery Month Celebration as an example of a client-clinician team who illustrate that treatment works and recovery is possible.

Keith and James were videotaped, and brief segments of their journey working together toward recovery will be shown at the September 30 event at the Dover Downs Conference Center. They were one of five client-counselor teams chosen by the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health to receive a 2009 award, which emphasizes the theme, Together We Learn, Together We Heal.

Keith and James were featured in our recent article, “A Life Saved by Inches.” Congratulations to them on this honor!

BCI Welcomes 3 New Board Members

Brandywine Counseling welcomed three new members to our Board of Directors September 15, 2009.

Stacey Clark of Middletown is a School Counselor with Campus Community High School in Dover. She brings not only her counseling background, but personal experience in addiction recovery. Stacey joined us because she believes the community as a whole benefits when its residents are healthy and well. She looks forward to finding resources, ideas, and community members to help Brandywine help our clients and their families. “I want to see more people remain in recovery and lessen relapses if possible,” she told us. “If I am able to help by being a Board member, I would love to be given the opportunity.”

Jean Meussner of Lincoln University, Pennsylvania is Director of Human Resources for Jenner’s Pond in West Grove. Jean came to us looking for an opportunity to make a difference in the community. She explained that while she has been fortunate to not be touched by addiction in her own family, she has seen its effects on the family of a close friend. “It simply tears my heart out to see what this problem has done to the child and all of the family members,” she says. “The only thing I have been able to do is be a shoulder to cry on and the sounding board for [the family].” As a Human Resources professional, Jean also brings her enjoyment of working with people, and helping and watching others develop and grow.

Joseph Paesani of Newark is an Adjunct Professor with Wilmington University. He is recently retired from the Delaware Department of Correction, where he worked for several decades, most recently as Deputy Bureau Chief. He also remains actively involved with the Delaware Criminal Justice Council. Joe is a longtime friend of BCI who is well acquainted with us through his work with DOC, and has been a trusted advisor to us on numerous topics. He brings valuable expertise on Delaware’s criminal justice system, and working with offenders and law enforcement. Joe looks forward to continuing his support of BCI's cause in his new role as a member of our Board.

The BCI Board is comprised of volunteers who support the mission of Brandywine Counseling by serving as our “eyes and ears” in the community, and sharing their time, advice, and expertise. We are thrilled to have these wonderful people as part of the organization. Please join us in giving them a warm welcome to BCI!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Anyone Have a Small Fridge to Donate?

BCI is looking for a college size fridge or smaller. We are hoping someone will donate one. We need it by Oct 1. If you can help, please contact us. Thanks!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Support BCI in the 2009 United Way Campaign

United Way of Delaware kicked off its 2009 campaign yesterday with a cheer by school students on South Market Street. The state's largest charitable campaign announced a goal of $20.5 million this year to benefit more than 100 member agencies including BCI.

Brandywine Counseling thanks you for supporting this year's campaign. There is no wrong way to give, whether your donation is large or small, whether you designate it to one agency or spread it around to many. We also know in this economy, it's not easy to be charitable, but it makes a difference for our clients.

What do United Way funds mean to member agencies? At BCI they support one full time position on our outreach team that goes out to do education, testing, and make referrals. We like to think of outreach as "opening windows of trust." Our clients are reluctant at first. It takes a friendly face, maybe a cup of coffee, bringing the services to them, and most of all, persevering and having patience. Because eventually, the light bulb will go on, and when someone is ready for help, we are ready to give it.

Like all member agencies, we measure outcomes. We report to United Way on the number of HIV tests we do, how many outreach contacts we make, and how many people reduce their risk. Results matter, and as a donor, you know your donation is going to a program that really works.
Your workplace probably runs a United Way campaign. If it doesn't, it’s easy to start! Contact United Way at (302) 573-3700 and they will set you up with everything you need. You can request guest speakers from member agencies for your campaign rally. There are many options to give, including payroll deduction or a one-time gift.

You can help not only through donating, but by spreading the word to others about BCI. The more we raise, the more we can help those in need. How can you spread the word? Here are some easy ways. Use email to send a post from our blog that will inspire people. Send friends to our Facebook page to see our photos, become Fans, and join the conversation. Or, just talk about us! When you're excited about BCI's work, other people will get excited, and they'll want to donate.

Thank you very much for your support this year. It saves lives, and it is really appreciated.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cover Your Cough: Stop the Spread of Germs That Make You and Others Sick!

Flu season is coming. Protect yourself and others by following the advice of this poster, provided by CDC. Cover your cough and clean your hands after coughing or sneezing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's All In The Journey

I received in the mail today a copy of the 2 year anniversary issue of It's All In The Journey, A Magazine of Recovery. This is the first time I've seen it and it looks very cool, so I wanted to pass it along to those of you in recovery. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Recovery Month Contest: Make a Movie, Make a Difference!

Recovery Month is here, and BCI is celebrating with a contest! We want you to make a movie to spread the word that treatment works. What? You don’t have a video camera? No problem, you don’t need one, all you need is your keyboard. First, watch the clip below!

We made this movie about HIV prevention on It’s a Web site where you type in whatever dialogue you want, and the cartoon characters say it. Then you add sound effects, actions, and expressions. When you’re done, publish it and share it with your friends. It’s fun, easy, and anyone can do it!

So our contest is called “Make a Movie, Make a Difference.” Here’s the rules:
  1. Create a movie on the theme of recovery, treatment, HIV prevention, or any service BCI offers.
  2. After you’ve published your movie, enter it in the contest by posting the link in a comment to this blog post. Email us your name and contact information to contactbci[at]bcidel[dot]org.
  3. Entries are due by close of business October 29, 2009. Winners will be announced October 30, 2009. We will pick the best submission by a community member, and the best by a BCI staff member. Winners will get a prize to be announced, and your movie will be featured on BCI’s Web site.
We are looking for creativity as well as educational value. What would you say to support someone in their recovery? To tell someone where to go for treatment? To get someone to take an HIV test? Movie-making is a new and exciting way to get your message out. Maybe your movie will even “go viral” and be seen all over the net! What a difference that would make.
Those are the rules – everybody go to it!

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Veggie Volunteer" Wanted to Start a Community Garden

Do you love to garden? Do you grow prize-winning produce? Want to teach people in recovery for drug addiction to “grow their own?”

Brandywine Counseling seeks a volunteer to help start a community garden. Our clients can tend to it with your instruction and monitoring, and take home the produce for their consumption. Gardening can be therapeutic for someone who is new to recovery. It can help them rediscover a normal lifestyle while doing an activity they can enjoy and feel proud of.

Fun project for someone who can give a few hours during the week to start up the garden, and ongoing assistance as needed. Crunchy hippies welcome.

Desired skills: Gardening experience, and enjoy working with people. Apply here!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tobacco Addiction: Tolerable, or Treatable?

Should drug treatment programs be helping patients quit smoking? Historically, we look the other way. We see cigarette smoking as less of a health risk, and more difficult to quit, than illegal drugs and alcohol.

But some in the addictions field now say we should be doing more to help patients who want to quit. They point to the recent NIDA report, “Tobacco Addiction,” which summarizes the health risks and consequences of smoking, as well as medicinal and behavioral treatment options. Studies also show smoking can be a relapse trigger for drinking.

What do you think? Is a change in attitude needed? Is tobacco addiction tolerable, or is it treatable?

Should drug treatment programs address smoking?
Yes, it’s a health risk, just like other drugs.
No, let them smoke if they’re giving up other drugs.
Free polls from

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Prison Ignored Pleas for Help from Inmate in Heroin Withdrawal

An inmate in Pittsburgh died unnecessarily after prison staff failed to treat his symptoms of withdrawal from heroin, according to this article.

"The inmates continuously told the nurses that Mr. Kardos needed medical assistance. Mr. Kardos was ridiculed and laughed at by the nursing staff and Defendant Nurse Mark Knapic stated, 'He'll live. He's not going to die,' " the suit said.

In one form he filled out, Mr. Kardos wrote: "I need to see a nurse asap. I'm recovering from dope sickness. I'm vomiting up everything I've put in my stomach. I have a very bad headache. I can't stand without starting to black out. I really need something for these problems, asap. Please see me and give me something soon."

Still, the lawsuit states, Mr. Kardos received no treatment.

This is outrageous if it happened as described. Hopefully it would not happen in Delaware, where an estimated 500 people a year enter prisons in withdrawal from opiates.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Recovery is Vertical

This is a cool article about recovering addicts working on a farm as part of their treatment program. My favorite part was this quote:

“Regardless of the outcome... the idea that they’re doing something, and it’s self-supporting, keeping them clean longer, and being good for the community as a whole, and that they’re earning their keep as opposed to being treated as though they’re horizontal patients somewhere in a hospital. These are very good, exciting features.”

Good for them! Farming is certainly something you can't do as a "horizontal patient," and thanks to programs like this, people are able to pull themselves up from addiction and "get vertical" again. Would you like to see a program like this in Delaware? What other activities do you think would be a therapeutic addiction to traditional treatment?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our New Shortcut:

We all know there are no shortcuts to recovery, but now there's a shortcut to find BCI online. Just type in So for all of you whose fingers got tired typing out, use the shorthand! Of course, the full domain name still works, too, so now you have two ways to find us.

You can also email our staff by their first initial and last name.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Join Us September 26 for a Roller Derby Exhibition, Barbeque, and Speaker Jam!

BCI's Recovery Month 2009 calendar is filling up!

In New Castle County, we invite you to join us Saturday, September 26 to celebrate recovery. We are planning a Roller Derby Exhibition, Barbeque, and Speaker Jam at the 2713 Lancaster Avenue site from 1 PM to 5 PM. This will be an indoor and outdoor event, with food, family, fellowship, and fun! You will have the chance to Find a Sponsor. And, the Wilmington City Ruff Rollers will be on hand to provide the entertainment. This is not to be missed! We are in need of donations of food for the barbeque or supermarket gift cards. If you can help, please email us.

Also, don’t forget our downstate Recovery Month event, the Sober Softball Tournament, Sept 18, 2009 at Sports at the Beach in Georgetown. Call Krystal for more info at 302-856-4700.

Lastly, to cap off our Recovery Month celebration, the BCI NSAFE Program is once again putting together a team for the Delaware AIDS Walk on September 27. You can sign up to walk with our team or support them with a donation at Team NSAFE's Page. The program will get back 40% of all donations they collect. Each year they use the money they earn to provide the Thanksgiving meal for the BCI clients. Let's help our team reach their goal. Thank you!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Homelessness in Delaware: Stats Tell Only Part of the Story

This is the time of year when we reapply for funding for our homeless program. Part of my job is to update the numbers we cite to demonstrate the need for our services. Delaware has a number of organizations that do excellent work and compile a ton of data; however, I must admit it’s a tedious task to pore over statistics, comparing last year’s stats with this year’s. It’s easy to forget that behind the percentages and bar graphs are real people with real stories. And I think many of us in Delaware are unaware of either the stats or the stories.

So perhaps by sharing some of both with you, I can make my work a little less dry by encouraging you to learn more about Delaware’s homeless problem. Find out what you can do to help by contacting BCI, supporting our work with a donation, or visiting another of the Web sites below.

First the stats:

  • How many people are homeless in Delaware? 1,479, according to the Homeless Planning Council’s most recent point-in-time count. Their survey also indicated that 31% of Delaware’s homeless experience chronic substance abuse and 34% experience mental illness.

  • How many people live below poverty level in Delaware? 10.3%, according to the 2007 U.S. census. In Sussex County, it is 9.7%. In past years, Sussex was above the state average, so it is interesting to see it go down. I would be interested to know what the reason for this could be.

  • How much does it cost to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Delaware? $923 is the Fair Market Rent, the monthly cost of rent and utilities. The Housing Wage is the hourly wage someone must earn to afford this rent without spending more than 30% of their income. Currently, Delaware’s Housing Wage is $17.75 an hour, which equates to more than 2 minimum wage jobs working 40 hours per week year-round. These numbers are from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s publication called “Out of Reach.”
Now the stories:

I recently discovered the video blog Invisible People through the Non-Profit List of Change. Each post is an interview with a homeless person, filmed in cities all across the country. I urge you to check it out to hear what daily life is like for them, in their own words. Here’s an example.

Tracy and her children from on Vimeo.