Friday, January 30, 2009

5 Questions for Ilian Bustos, Hispanic Program Counselor

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: Ilian Bustos
Job: Counselor, Hispanic Program, Lancaster Center
Time with BCI: 2 years

1. Why did you decide to work in addiction treatment?
The most important thing for me is to help people, to make a difference, to give them a chance to change their lives. It’s not our job just to listen to the client, but also to analyze and help them find solutions. You can’t change the life that another person has, but at least you can make a little change for them, with groups, or through talking, even from the time that they meet you.

2. Aside from language, what special needs do your Hispanic clients have when they come to us for treatment?
Most of the people that come here feel that they are fighting with the world, and sometimes they don’t feel accepted in the world. The challenge for me is to let them understand what they need to ask of themselves, in order to be able to find another way to help them. This way, we can help them to find another way to see their lives, and especially to feel needed in this world. [My biggest challenge is] to find a way to send a message to a client, and it doesn’t matter if it’s in Spanish or English, it’s really a challenge to find that gate that’s open, just to get the message out and try to do something different.

3. Tell us about the group you run.
This group is every Tuesday at 6:00, and it’s just for Spanish-speaking [clients]. I have people who are on the Drug Diversion program, Core division, and also Intake. I think the most valuable thing during my group is that I allow the people to talk. I use that to help them realize difficult aspects of their lives, especially their needs. I think the most important part is that they feel that they bond with the same culture and the same ideas, and I think that helps them to understand their treatment in another way.

4. Kiesha told us why she prefers to do intakes over being a permanent counselor. Why do you like being a permanent counselor?
It’s wonderful the way you can see how the client is making improvements in their own recovery. There are some clients, of course, who can’t make any improvement during their treatment, but it’s good when you see them coming back and trying to do something different. For example, people who are changing the thoughts they used to have at the beginning, who were not engaged in the program and recovery. When they are administratively discharged and they come back, they have another attitude. They are thinking about how to improve the kind of life they have, and especially to be a better person.

5. Tell us your favorite client success story.
I had a client who refused to have treatment at the beginning, and he tried his best, [but] eventually he was discharged. A couple of months later, I received a phone call from him, giving thanks. He mentioned that, thanks to all the advice I gave him, he was able to start doing something better. He continued at another treatment facility -- he’s no longer at BCI -- but at this point, he’s doing something different. He’s doing something for good.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Delawareans Generously Give Time, Money to Help Others

Here's some video from last weekend's Better Delaware Weekend of Caring, the volunteer event organized by Gov. Markell in lieu of a traditional inaugural ball.

Hundreds of people throughout the state took part in more than 30 projects, which you can read about here. It was also announced Saturday that United Way of Delaware made their 2008 campaign goal of $22 million. What great news! Even in these challenging economic times, Delawareans are generously giving their time and their money to charitable causes. Thank you everyone, we and our clients really appreciate it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Must-Reads 1/23/09

It's time again for our occasional series where we share some of our favorite posts from around the blogosphere dealing with addiction, recovery, and related issues.

The Give and the Take
Jim Atkinson looks at what alcohol added to his life when he first started drinking, and what it took away that made him stop.

Please Don’t Forget
From L.A.’s Homeless Blog, a poem about the unsolved murder of a homeless man. Heart-wrenching.

What If There Were an Alcoholic Gene?
A question from Etta at The Second Road.

Report: Needle Exchange Program Finds Mixed Success in Atlantic City
The challenges of NEP startup in neighboring New Jersey.

On MLK, Jr. Day: I, Too, Have a Dream
From the World of Psychology blog, some timely thoughts on stigma and the mentally ill.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How Much Would You Pay to Save a Life?

What can you do with a $1.00 donation to Brandywine Counseling? You might think, "not a whole lot," but you'd be wrong.

We know in these economic times, it's more and more difficult to support your favorite charitable causes. "Microdonations" of 1, 5, or 10 dollars are becoming a popular option. So with that in mind, I asked some of our BCI program directors what we could do with one dollar, five dollars, or ten dollars. This is what they came up with:

$1.00 will buy 14 condoms to protect someone from HIV.
$1.00 will also buy:
… 4 First Aid Kits
… 1 Wound Care Kit
… 1.3 Dignity (Hygiene) Kits (contraception, instructions, and resource guide)
… 10 Sterile Water Vials for use with bleach to clean syringes
… 12 Sterile Syringes

$5.00 will provide a hot meal for someone who comes to us hungry.
$5.00 will also provide:
… one group counseling session
… a gift card incentive for someone doing “well” in treatment for continued motivation.
… 70 condoms
… 21 First Aid Kits
… 5 Wound Care Kits
… 6.5 Dignity (Hygiene) Kits
… 50 Sterile Water Vials
… 60 Sterile Syringes

$10.00 will buy a DART bus pass for someone without a car to get to treatment and search for a job.
$10.00 will also:
… assist someone in obtaining an evaluation for addiction treatment.
… pay for 2.5 days worth of daily medication for a methadone patient.
… pay for 1 day of daily medication for a Suboxone patient.
… provide someone with 10 minutes of face to face contact with a counselor. Dollars buy minutes, and time saves lives.

So you can believe me when I say, one dollar can indeed save a life. As one of my co-workers put it, “Treatment works!! Not all clients can get treatment paid by Dr. Phil. How much would you pay to save a life?”

Brandywine Counseling offers convenient, secure online donations, including one time or recurring donations with your American Express card. Microdonations welcome. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Free Tax Preparation in Delaware

Free Tax Preparation for Taxpayers with Household Incomes at or Below $45,000

January 21, 2009-April 15, 2009

Click here for a complete list of locations and what to bring to have your taxes prepared.

More service hours, less wait time!
Also available on location; Savings Accounts, Certificates of Deposit, U.S. Saving Bonds, Credit Reports with Scores, and New This Year - Convenient Cash Card!

The Delaware Earned Income Tax Credit program helps put more money into the pockets of low-income taxpayers by promoting awareness of the EITC and other tax credits that help working families. Last year 450 Tax Preparer volunteers helped 14,377 people qualify for more than $19 million in tax refunds. In addition, 100 volunteer Financial Coordinators helped 600 clients save some of their refund by a opening savings product. Volunteers also assisted 2,500 taxpayers to obtain a credit report with credit score, and a referral for credit counseling.

For More Info About Free Tax Preparation:Call the Delaware Helpline at 1-800-464-4357 or visit

Monday, January 19, 2009

Delaware Answers the Call to Do More

Today, many of us, including the President-elect, are marking Martin Luther King Day with a day of service to give back to the community. It's an appropriate time to check in and see how our state's ongoing service project, Delaware Does More, is going. Organizers hoped to raise $250,000 toward assistance for utility and shelter, and 300,000 pounds of food by the end of February. Last week, I received the following update:

We wanted you to know that the Delaware Does More initiative, a joint project of United Way of Delaware, the Food Bank of Delaware, and the News Journal, continues to achieve its goals by meeting the critical food, shelter, and heat needs of many Delawareans. The combined efforts of our community, corporate and agency Partners have contributed to an overwhelmingly positive response to the program, and your efforts to communicate the initiative are greatly appreciated.

To date, we have:
* Won commitments for $255,000 (and counting!)
* Collected 260,000 pounds of food
* Formed an independent Allocation Committee of community leaders that has guided this initiative and met regularly to establish program guidelines and funding criteria, and to approve specific allocations
* Distributed $51,100 through 10 agency partners
* Provided direct cash assistance for 155 shelter and assistance awards impacting 445 individuals and their families

This is wonderful! Thank you Delaware, for answering the call to service. However, more donations are still needed to ensure we exceed all our goals, so Delaware Does More is continuing to promote food and fundraising events throughout January and February. Your donated food and funds are being distributed as we speak to partner agencies, and then to those in need.

If you are in need of shelter or utility assistance, please contact:

Catholic Charities (Statewide) (302) 655-9624
Claymont Community Center (Claymont) (302) 792-2757
First State Community Action Agency (Statewide) (302) 856-7761
Kingswood Community Center (Wilmington) (302) 764-9022
Latin American Community Center (Wilmington) (302) 655-7338
Neighborhood House (Wilmington) (302) 652-3928
People's Place (Milford) (302) 422-8033
Rose Hill Community Center (New Castle) (302) 656-8513
Sussex Co. Community Crisis Housing (Georgetown) (302) 856-7524
West End Neighborhood House (Wilmington) (302) 658-4171

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sussex County's Soup Lady

Every Tuesday Dale Dunning stops by Brandywine Counseling Georgetown to deliver soup to our clients, many of whom are homeless. Dale runs Jusst Sooup Ministry, which is a soup kitchen on wheels, but much more. She distributes basic necessities to the most needy in Sussex County. The Cape Gazette has a nice article about how she got started with just an idea and the desire to help.

Dale is always punctual and happy to feed our clients. Some of them who have a community service requirement have done volunteer work with her organization. Besides soup, she’s brought us bagels, hot pretzels, sandwiches, and whatever she can get her hands on at the time. At Christmas she brought a big pot of cocktail wienies that were a big hit.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the soup is wonderful! Gloria, the supervisor at Georgetown, says her favorite is the potato, broccoli, and cheese. She also likes the wedding soup and chili.

Thanks Dale for all you do!

Photo c/o Ron Macarthur, Cape Gazette

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Needle Exchange Update

Hello Everyone,

We just wanted to let you know that as of this afternoon 1/14/09, we have 402 un-duplicated members on the Needle Exchange Program. Today is roughly the two year mark since we started on 2/1/07. I thought you all would be happy to celebrate this milestone with us. We are touching, changing, and saving lives-one sterile syringe at time!

Thank you all for your continued support. Please feel free to share this news,
Basha and Rochelle

Monday, January 12, 2009

Making the Connection

This morning, Daniel Norvell, a counselor at Alpha, pulled me aside and said he had someone who wanted to volunteer with Brandywine. Daniel was excited because he'd seen one of the postings on our Web site, and found just the type of person we’re looking for. He asked whether she should get in touch with me, and I said, of course! It’s always great to get word of mouth referrals of volunteers. I wish we would get more!

This got me thinking how a word of mouth referral happens. It sounds so simple, yet so few of us actually do it. In Daniel’s case, an ordinary conversation with his friend turned to the economy, how so many people were hurting and in need of help. His friend said she wished she could do something to help. So Daniel said, well, Brandywine can use your help.

Ding Ding Ding! Connection made!

It really was that simple. How many of us are having that same conversation about the economy with our friends? We all want to help. Perhaps we would do something if we just knew where and how. If we knew there was someplace that could use our own particular skills to do some good.

Just think, if all of Brandywine Counseling’s supporters seized that opportunity and put in a plug for what we need, how many connections would we make? Connections with people with computer skills, people with clothes to donate, people from the corporate world who can teach us things, you name it. People you know, who are ready and willing to help.

Could you do what Daniel did? Think about it. Where can you make the connection?

Friday, January 9, 2009

5 Questions for Kiesha Wright, Intake Counselor

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: Kiesha Wright
Job: Intake Counselor, Lancaster Center
Time with BCI: 1 year

1. How is the economic downturn affecting your clientele and how you do your job?
I’m an intake counselor, which means that I see people when they come straight from the streets. A lot of our clients that are coming in right now are very, very needy. When I say needy, I mean housing, food, clothes. Because the economy is so bad, a lot of [counseling] time is being taken up with things that people need immediately. So that definitely puts a strain on what I do. Because we’re therapeutic. A lot of that therapeutic aspect is being taken out. If we can help them with food, and things like that, we’re supposed to. But it’s not supposed to be our primary job. My whole session shouldn’t be on helping the client get food, housing, and clothes.

And that’s why we have case managers now. What we do now is try to coordinate with their case manager, who does handle Medicaid, food, housing, clothes, and other necessary resources, so that we can do the therapeutic aspect of counseling.

2. As an intake counselor, you see clients on a temporary basis until they’re stabilized, but you don’t follow them through treatment. What’s the appeal and the challenge of working in intake?
It depends on how much you want to be involved with the client, and how far you want to follow them. Intake works for me, because I don’t only get to see the end result. When they move up [to a permanent counselor] they’re supposed to be stabilized, [and if I’m the new counselor] I don’t see anything that they went through to get there. I’m the type of person that wants to see the client through all of those steps. Once they are stabilized, I want to pass them on to somebody who’s maybe a little bit more experienced, somebody who will follow them the rest of the way. Not everybody gets stable before they go upstairs, but in an ideal situation, I would take them through all the beginning stages, get them 30 days clean, and then they would go upstairs to Core.

My biggest challenge in doing my job is not to take it personal, not to take it home with me. If I’m working with someone and they get 30 days clean, and they relapse, I can’t take that as if they relapsed because of me. I have to also be understanding. They’re going through different stressors than I am. And, not to take it home with me.

3. Many of our staff express their personality in how they decorate their office – tell us what you have in your office.
I have a big poster of a waterfall, and the water’s green and the sky’s blue, and this is what I use to escape when I’m having a very, very stressful day. I also have a lot of sayings. “Life is about making mistakes and learning from them.” “Make an effort, not an excuse.” And, “You can’t change your past. You can change your future.” I have other little thoughts for the day. I have a little plant that one of the girls gave me that left, that I’m trying to keep alive.

When I got here, I got the office painted. I wanted it to be really bright, because I wanted people to walk in my office and just, like, cheer up! Even if they were sad! Unfortunately, I was told that I couldn’t make it as bright as I wanted to. (Laughs) So I settled for orange. So, when people walk in my office, I want them to be, first of all, surprised by the color – like, “Oh, that’s a bright color,” and open up their eyes. And I just want them to feel comfortable. I try not to have anything that’s intimidating to people, or anything that’s going to offend anyone. I also have the regular things, too, some NA schedules, some diagnosis charts. I have some of Habib’s decorations, so he has a little touch in my office too.

4. What’s been your most rewarding moment at BCI?
When somebody reaches 90 days clean time [and earns take home medication], and the reaction that they give you. And you’ve seen that person struggle, you’ve seen that person from intake - which is why I like intake - you’ve seen that person come in and say, “I’m not gonna make it, but, this is what I have to do, to maybe stay off the streets.” And they actually get to 90 days, and you see the reaction that they give you. That’s a big reward. I actually have two clients that just reached their 90 days.

I have a client who transferred to us from Kirkwood Detox. She came in and she was like, “You know what, Kiesha, I’m gonna stay with my mom. She’s gonna kick me out, I’m still using, the hardest part for me is to get to 90 days. I can’t get to 90 days, I won’t make it to 90 days, but I’m gonna try.” Her son’s father took custody of the child, so she was upset about that. She wasn’t employed, she had psych issues, and she was just all over the place. Well, I just recently saw her for our third or fourth session, and she now has four months clean. She’s going to court for a custody hearing. She’s very hopeful that she’s going to get custody back of her son. I’ve even met her son. She got a job, so therefore, she’s paying for her own medication. Things are going better between her and her mom, because her mom’s not financially supporting her.

So that actually made me feel happy. She came in recently, and she was like, “I just want to thank you for sticking it out with me, ‘cause you could’ve just gave up on me. And that’s what I thought you counselors did, you just pushed people through.” So, that made me feel good. It made my heart smile a little bit.

5. If you had $30,000 to donate to BCI what would you do with it?
I would update the computers, because we’re going paperless now, and I had a couple clients where I couldn’t do their intake, or couldn’t complete it. I keep getting the error message, “No Token.” So I would update the computers, definitely, because that’s a big, big, big part of it. And… oh yeah! I would put it into having our own food closet for people that are not in NSAFE or Safety Net, so it’s not like we’ve got to send clients out to get food. We’d have the food here. Of course, I guess, we’d have to build another room for it. So I’d build the room! (Laughs) And have the food in there, and also a clothes closet. So the computers, a food closet, and a clothes closet within BCI! That way it makes it easier for everybody. That’s what I would do.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Delaware Inaugural Ball to Benefit AIDS

Want to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama and Joe Biden while supporting a great cause? Delaware will host an Inaugural Ball Saturday January 17 to benefit HIV/AIDS testing, treatment, prevention, education, and support.

The Delaware Inaugural Ball is a night for celebration, hope and, change. A night to say: “Yes We Did!”

Tickets include:

  • An Obama themed appetizer, dinner, and beverage menu (Chicago, Hawaiian, African, Indonesian),
  • Professional DJ and Dancing,
  • Professional pictures with life size Barack Obama and Joe Biden figures,
  • And more!

The event will take place at The Crystal Center, 728 Philadelphia Pike, Wilmington, DE 19809, from 7:30-11:30 PM. Proceeds benefit AIDS Delaware. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More Court Appearances = More Success for High-Risk Drug Offenders

BCI's Drug Court Diversion Program clients took part in a research study which found that high risk offenders achieve better outcomes in treatment with more frequent court hearings. The article appears in the December issue of NIDA Notes.

A “high risk” offender is defined as one who has antisocial personality disorder or prior drug treatment, which makes them more likely to return to criminal behavior including drug abuse. A drug court program provides educational groups, drug testing, referrals, and support in meeting personal lifestyle goals in lieu of prosecution for a first time offense. It’s estimated that such programs save $1000 to $15,000 a year per client in judicial costs and financial loss to crime victims.

In the study, participants who were required to attend court for monitoring every two weeks had a higher rate of graduation from the treatment program, fewer days of drug use, and fewer days of alcohol intoxication than participants who were monitored every 4-6 weeks.

The study also found that low-risk offenders do just as well when their frequency of hearings is reduced. This means that drug court programs can shift their existing resources to increase the monitoring of those most at risk, and decrease it for those at low risk. The programs can thereby improve public safety without increasing costs.

Good news for drug court participants and for the public.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tech-Savvy Volunteers Wanted!

BCI is seeking people who are technology-inclined and are looking to give back to the community. We have two volunteer projects available:

2814 West 2nd Street, Wilmington

Are you knowledgeable about “new media” and excited about its power to deliver a message? Are you passionate about addiction treatment and recovery, or HIV/AIDS prevention?

Brandywine Counseling seeks a volunteer to help us tell our success stories and raise awareness of our work using new media, including video, social networking sites, and user-generated content. Work closely with our staff and clients to collect stories and ideas and use them in creative ways to inspire and inform. Fun project for someone who can give a few hours, 1 or 2 days during the week on an ongoing basis.

Knowledge of new media required, including popular sites such as YouTube and Facebook. Experience filming video and preparing for online publication very helpful. Creativity, and enjoy working with people.

Apply for this project

2814 West 2nd Street, Wilmington

Are you the person everyone turns to to fix their computer issues? Do you want to make a difference for people affected by drug and alcohol addiction? Brandywine Counseling seeks a volunteer to troubleshoot and fix IT issues for the staff at our treatment center. There are everyday problems that come up related to hardware, software, browsers, email, etc. We have limited IT staff to help with this, and the rest of us are more technically challenged! So we need your help to get these problems solved more quickly so we can focus our time on client services!

Great project for someone who is available weekdays, between 9 and 4, and can give a few hours a week on an ongoing basis.

Apply for this project

Monday, January 5, 2009

Most Popular Posts Last Year

Happy New Year, readers! Let's start off 2009 with our Top 10 most popular posts in 2008.

1. Annual Door Decorating Contest
2. Mosaic Mural is Finished!
3. The Saying Goodbye to Addiction Tour at BCI
4. 5 Questions for Evelyn Handley, Receptionist
5. Delaware Does More: Neighbors Helping Neighbors All Winter Long
6. 5 Questions for Karen Barker, Account Manager
7. 5 Questions for Darlene Pezzulo, Nurse
8. Thanks to You, We're On Our Way to Playground Goal
9. 5 Questions for Dianna Dorsey, Outreach Worker
10. Daily Message 4/1/08

That's right, folks... at Brandywine Counseling, we treat addiction and save lives, but we also help you decorate your door for Christmas! :)

What makes a post popular, anyway? In some cases, people find us through Google, or Google Images. But more and more, our visitors come through email links that a friend sent them, or from a link another visitor created. This means YOU have a say in making a post popular.

So when you read something you like here, take a moment and click the ShareThis icon, or add us to your StumbleUpon. While I think most of the posts above deserve to be in the Top 10, I'd rather see this one on the list, and this one. This one was one of my faves too. What are your favorites?