Friday, June 26, 2009

5 Questions for Lynn Fahey, Executive Director

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: Lynn Fahey
Job: Executive Director
Time with BCI: 16 years

1. Lynn, congratulations on becoming BCI’s new Executive Director. Tell us how you got your start in addiction treatment, and how you got to where you are today.
It’s funny, I kind of fell into addiction treatment. Coming out of college, all I knew was I wanted to help people. I applied to a couple of different non-profit organizations, and was offered a position at Brandywine, took it, and pretty much fell in love with addictions counseling. I started off as a Core Counselor. Cindy Lobis hired me, and Janice [Sneed] was the Clinical Director. Brandywine was one building. There were 30-35 employees at the time. I worked there for about two and a half years. I left and worked in the mental health field for about two years, and came back to Brandywine in the adolescent department.

The reason I came back to Brandywine was because of the organization. I think a lot of it had to do with Sally and the environment she created here. I actually took a cut in pay to come back to Brandywine, because the atmosphere and the supportive environment was more important to me than the money. The ability to focus on the treatment and care we provide, and the compassionate side of what is still a business, and that compassion and care extended not just to the clients, but to staff as well. So, to be able to help people, and to be able to grow as a person at the same time, I thought was an extraordinary opportunity, and something that I just wanted to continue to do.

And then I went back to school, got my certification, worked in the adolescent unit, then worked in the women’s department, eventually ran the women’s department. When Brandywine continued to grow and get bigger, I took on more and more responsibilities, and eventually became Site Director. I was moved around from Riverfront to Alpha, wherever I was needed. When [we started] Alpha, we only had two counselors, and maybe thirty clients in the drug free program at Brandywine, and of course since then, it’s been expanded to over 300 clients, and lots of staff. And from there, I worked closely with Sally and everyone else. Learned a lot. Went back to school again, got my doctorate in administrative, because by that point, I’m realizing that I’m more and more in administrative, and less in the clinical end, and knew that could be very beneficial to myself and Brandywine.

2. Tell us about your plans for Brandywine. What challenges are ahead and how will you approach them?
It’s all very exciting. [I’m looking forward to] working with everybody in the organization to take Brandywine to the next level. As far as the organization’s mission, just expanding that a little bit, to verbally include things we’re already doing, like our HIV services, mental health, and co-occurring treatment.

What Sally’s managed to do with this organization is nothing short of extraordinary. So, to take it and continue to grow and look towards the future, and what’s coming in the field, and being a viable, sustainable company that continues to provide the best services available to our clients, is very, very exciting. What has been said to me, even by Sally, is, I’m not Sally. So, to say that there won’t be change, wouldn’t be realistic. To say that I want to change the culture of Brandywine, is not what I want to do. I want to expand and change some of the services we provide to our clients. Those are the types of changes that I would focus on.

To state the obvious, [our biggest challenge is] the financial situation that the state of Delaware, and obviously, the country at large, finds itself in. When I talk about expansion of services, it’s all contingent upon obtaining additional funds, so there may be some really tough decisions coming about where to maintain our focus. Some of the goals that we have may end up being more long-term than short-term. I would love to see us create programs, or come up with plans for programs that we want, and look for funding to fit those programs. That might mean being more selective about what funds we go for, too.

3. What would you like to say to our clients?
I want to reassure them that the high quality care that they’re getting will continue. And that, as always, I welcome constructive suggestions on how we can improve. If they’re noticing things that are lacking, or not quite working, I would want to hear that in a way that provides solutions to those issues. I’m going to try, in the next couple of months, to make myself available to them. Maybe I’ll come into some groups in the different locations, or have a town hall meeting in each location, so they can speak, and meet me directly. I know a lot of the clients know me, but a lot don’t, so I think it’s important for them to know who I am and what I’m about, and to hear it directly from me, in person.

4. What’s been rewarding to you about working at BCI?
When I get a call from a client I worked with, years and years ago, and they tell me that they’re doing well. They mention the counseling they received from Brandywine, but just to hear that people are changing and growing, and creating better lives for themselves and their families, is why we’re all here. So, to hear those stories, and hear from recovering people, and know that we’ve been able to make a difference in their lives.

When I worked with the women and children’s program, we had an individual come in on a Friday afternoon at 3:00. She was pregnant, homeless, some health issues. Unfortunately, she was prostituting. Heroin, cocaine, relationship issues, mental health issues. She came in, basically, with most of the issues that someone can have, suffering with addiction. And I was able watch her, in the program, get into sobriety, and give birth to a healthy, beautiful, gorgeous baby girl. And she went back to school, because she didn’t have a high school education. Just the transformation, physically, mentally, spiritually, that this woman went through. Watching it happen, and then watching the way she was able to parent her child, was very exciting.

5. If you had $30,000 to donate to BCI, what would you do with it?
There’s so many important things. I think I might focus on developing a parenting curriculum that targets the parents and the children, so that I would be able to train the staff appropriately in an evidence-based practice, that would impact and break the cycle of addiction, and the generational issues that addiction has. It’s sad when you see individuals come in and they report that mom and dad had an addiction issue, and they were raised in an abusive home, and grandma and grandpa had an addiction issue. Some of our clients aren’t here for extended periods of time, and if we can get to their children, then maybe we can plant a seed that will help them take a different direction in life, and obviously help the parents become better parents as well. So to me, taking that $30,000, and utilizing it that way, has the potential to have a magnifying or rippling effect in the community, and with our clients.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Dedication and Celebration, BCI Style (Complete with Water Guns)

BCI staff past and present, and our friends outside the organization, gathered June 24, 2009 for a twofold purpose. We dedicated our Outreach Center in honor of our first Outreach Director Linda DeShields, and we took time to pay tribute to our retiring Executive Director Sally Allshouse. In true BCI fashion, it was an afternoon of fellowship, recovery, and fun.

The afternoon began with a proclamation by Board President David Oppold dedicating the Linda DeShields Outreach Center. To the sounds of cheers, the ribbon was cut and a plaque was unveiled inside. Lunch was served, including dishes home cooked by staff, and tours were given of the renovated facility. Guest speakers then reminisced about Linda and honored her legacy.

James Harrison shared the story of how Linda recruited him as the first BCI employee to be previously a consumer on the methadone program. He also tells the story here. James recalled Linda’s work ethic, how she didn’t have a watch, or understand the concept of 8 hours and you were done. He recalled Linda sending him into a crack house to find a person. “I can’t go in there, I’m a recovering addict,” he said. Linda answered, “That’s why I hired you, go in there and get ‘em!” So James went in, because you don’t say no to Linda DeShields, and that person is doing well in treatment today.

Jack Booker, Linda’s oldest son, noted her unconditional love for her children. “When I think of my mom, I think about God, and to me, God is loving, caring, sharing, and helping.” In an emotional tribute, he thanked her for giving him the skills to be successful in life and for never giving up on her family. Her legacy includes daughter Rochelle who’s following in her footsteps as supervisor of the Needle Exchange.

Laurie Dyer, a past employee of BCI, recalled running a women’s group with Linda, and getting them makeovers at Wannamaker’s. Another time, they attended a workshop on African American heritage that ended with Linda initiating Laurie as an African American woman. “I was honored! I came back and told everyone, ‘I’m a black woman!’ and I am proud to say that today!” Finally, she recollected what it was like to take a trip with Linda as your backseat driver, pretending to be asleep, but somehow awakening at the moment you start to talk about her.

Shay Lipshitz said she is forever indebted to Linda, who hired her at BCI. Having been called away for a presentation and nearly missing today’s event, Shay recalled Linda’s words, “You always have to give something back to the house, and I hope I did that today.”

Sally Allshouse told of meeting Linda on her second day at work. “She looked at me, looked me up and down, and said, ‘Time will tell.’ She was the most amazing, strong, black woman. She loved her family, she loved God, and she loved working. She knew by giving back to her community, she would be rewarded. She adopted us. She would go eat anywhere. Every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, if she knew where you lived, she would show up. She was a Delawarean, she knew what it meant to live in Wilmington, to be raised in Wilmington, to have trouble in Wilmington, but she believed in Wilmington.”

Rochelle Booker, Linda’s daughter, thanked everyone for coming to celebrate her mom. She then introduced Sally and informed her this was a surprise going away party. (Actually it was not that surprising, as Sally found out a day before.) Rochelle noted that it was Sally who gave her her start. “I know when she saw my application, she probably said uh-uh. Another Booker? When you’re introducing someone this good, you can’t write nothin’ down. All I can say is thank you from my heart and I love you.”

Rochelle presented Sally with a baton to symbolically pass the torch to her successor, Lynn Fahey. Sally, in turn, brought some gifts for her staff. Explaining she was cleaning out her office and returning confiscated materials, she presented each manager with a toy water gun, to much laughter and applause. “If you know my staff, they can be a little raucous, and some of them have criminal histories!”

But this was only the beginning, as more toys were bestowed upon Lynn. Juggling balls, which every Executive Director needs. Punching bags for the days you get really angry. “Character In a Jar” for dealing with funding agencies who never play fair. “Whack a Mole” for dealing with all the BCI sites. “There's Alpha! There's Outreach! There's Lancaster! There's Newark! They keep poppin’ up!” “Grow a Therapist.” (Self-explanatory.) A foam sword to cut through the bull. Last but not least, the biggest water gun of all, because “When you have staff who are criminals, you need a really big gun. This thing will squirt, and Lynn, you’re gonna need to squirt!” All joking aside, Sally said she’s had the best 21 years at BCI, and 39 years in the addiction field, and it’s been a moment of joy every single day because she gets to see miracles.

Lynn Fahey thanked Sally for her caring over the years, for the opportunities and the life lessons, saying, “I will be doing everything in my power to continue what you’ve created and built.” She then presented gifts to Sally from the staff, reading a letter of gratitude for her leadership and dedication. Since Sally would not allow us to buy her anything, the staff made a donation of $600 to Brandywine Counseling in her name. Lynn also announced we will rededicate the Sara Allshouse Tree of Excellence, noting the tree trunk is a fitting symbol of her stable and strong leadership that enabled BCI to achieve such growth. Sally was also presented with a real, potted tree.

David Oppold read a letter from Senator Carper’s office thanking Sally for her dedication that has touched thousands of lives. The floor was then opened up to all the guests to share their stories, thoughts, and gratitude.

Steve Burns was given his start at BCI by both Linda and Sally. He recalled working as a counselor in Riverside, and one day Linda came and got everyone to go do outreach. Steve said, “I’m a counselor, not an outreach worker.” Linda replied, “Everybody’s an outreach worker today. Get your a** outside!” Steve thanked Sally for encouraging him to go back to school, and for her longtime support of the 1212 Club.

James Harrison described Sally as someone “to take a nobody and say you’re a somebody.” He also remembered spiritual experiences, like the time a Joint Commission challenge resolved itself not even an hour after Sally’s words, “Let’s pray!” Marge Flynn gave thanks for Sally’s support after her relapse after years of recovery, and eventually rehiring her. “That’s love! That’s recovery!” Laurie Dyer recalled how Sally made work pleasurable to come to every day, complete with pranks at the office and staff retreats.

Former staff member Joanne Coston noted Linda’s and Sally’s personal influence on her and on how she raised her kids. Consultant Dorothy Dillard presented Sally with the “Nth Chance Award,” after all those she gave a first, second, 50th, and 100th chance. Sally thanked us all and left us with these words: “If you don’t believe in recovery, and if you don’t believe people get better, then get out of the tent, because this tent is about recovery!”

What a day it was. Many more of us could have spoken yesterday if time permitted. Since I did not get my chance, I’ll do so now. It’s well known that Sally took a chance in hiring people new to recovery. But she also took a chance in hiring me to be her assistant. I came in with no non-profit experience, some grant writing ability, and a degree in chemical engineering, of all things. I knew nothing of addiction, and was dead set against working with “those addicts.” So much so, that I even turned down my second interview at first. But something stuck with me and eventually made me change my mind. I had interviewed at many non-profits, but this one was different. BCI was more rough around the edges, but behind that I saw passion, potential, and a refreshing frankness. Without meeting any other staff, I knew this attitude came from Sally, and I decided I wanted to work for her. And so it was that I got my big break in the non-profit sector, and also learned to open my mind to the unfamiliar and the exciting.

As yesterday’s celebration shows, that spirit is still here at Brandywine. It started with Linda DeShields and with Sally Allshouse, but will remain even after they’ve left. Thanks Linda, and thanks Sally.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Photos from Linda DeShields Outreach Center Dedication/Sally's Retirement Party

Today BCI staff past and present, and many of our friends from outside the organization, gathered to dedicate our Outreach Center in honor of Linda DeShields.

We also took the opportunity to celebrate our retiring Executive Director Sally Allshouse, who didn't want a party but we knew we could get her there to celebrate Linda.

In true BCI fashion, it was an afternoon of fellowship, recovery, and fun. Full writeup coming soon, but for now I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Use GoodSearch and Raise a Penny for BCI with Every Search

What if BCI earned a donation every time you searched the Internet? Now, we can. BCI is now registered with GoodSearch and GoodShop. Like more than 80,000 nonprofits and schools, we can make money every time you do an online search.

Here's all you need to do. Just start using Yahoo! powered as your search engine. Go to and enter Brandywine Counseling as the charity you want to support. They'll donate about a penny to us every time you do a search!

In addition, do all of your shopping through their online shopping mall, You can shop at more than 900 top online retailers including Amazon, eBay, and Target, and a percentage of your purchases will go to the charity of your choice. You pay the same price as you normally would, but a donation goes to BCI! is the search engine with a unique social mission. They've been featured in the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Oprah Magazine and more. There is no cost to BCI or to you, as the money comes from advertisers. And, be sure to spread the word! Please tell 10 friends that BCI is on GoodShop and GoodSearch. You can also get badges like the one below, logos, flyers, and more here. This is such an easy way to raise much-needed funds if lots of people do it, so we need your help!

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

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Lighthouse Wish List

The Lighthouse residential program for women and children is in need of the following items:

1. House wares and furniture in good condition to help women start over. Twin beds and cribs.
2. Knitting needles, crocheting hooks, yarn, and other craft supplies
3. Small bicycles and helmets for kids

If you have items to donate, please call (302) 424-8080 or email us. Thank you!

Friday, June 19, 2009

5 Questions for Sally Allshouse, Executive Director

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: Sally Allshouse
Job: Executive Director
Time with BCI: 21 years

1. You’re retiring at the end of June after a long and distinguished career in addiction treatment. How did you get started in the field?
It was sort of like a coincidence. I student taught in 1969 at Forwood Elementary School. And I ran into the woman who I taught under, at a department store where I was working, and she asked, “Why are you working here?” And [she] had a friend, Rev. Richard Hamilton, who had just been appointed by the Governor to start drug abuse services in the state of Delaware – because before then, there wasn’t any, it was only alcohol services – and she hooked me up with an interview with him. And I was one of the first outreach workers in the State of Delaware back then. So that was 1970.

2. What would people be surprised to know about your job?
One, I love it. That I do know about the clients, still. I do, through incident reports and through talking to the site supervisors, still get very involved with client issues. Every day’s different. There is no typical day. The biggest challenge over the years has been to keep my stress level down, not to prejudge things, try to be fair about situations, and keep a fresh look at what we do and how we do it. I dislike hearing, “That’s the way we do it.” And to me, that’s important, to be able to keep looking at things in a fresh way.

3. What advice do you have for someone who would like to do the job you do?
A student intern, maybe 5 or 6 years ago, asked me that question, and my response to her was that she should learn how to juggle. And I think that’s true. You need to be able to have more than one ball in the air. You need to be able to realize that everything you do is connected, so if you drop one, they could affect the whole organization. So someone needs to be able to think on their toes, and remain calm, and try and get a perspective about what’s going on.

4. If you had $30,000 to donate to BCI, what would you do with it?
You know, there’s so many areas. And I’ve read what people have said to you about what they would do. I would really like a fund established for the kids. There are so many children that are affected by this disease. They stand in line with their parents, or we see them in our outreach, and we see them in all the programs. We have people who are generational here, whose parents were here, and now they’re here. And if we could do something in the prevention area for those kids, I think that would be wonderful.

5. What are you most proud of in your time at Brandywine?
So many things. Services for women, and their children. That’s always been a priority to me. And outreach, I think. Doing our outreach has been very valuable. There’s been a couple of clients that I’ve been really proud of, that have gone from being clients [to being employees.] Someone who served on our board for awhile and then became an employee, I think he’s a great success. Clients who have gone from entry into our medication-assisted programs, all the way to Newark and just coming in monthly. I think there have been great successes for that.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

She Found Recovery, and It Is Beautiful

Wanese put her key in the lock, opened the door, and stepped into her new apartment. She was home. Not in a shelter, not in a transition house, but her own place, for the first time in quite awhile. She smiled as only someone finally successful at addiction recovery after many failures, can.

Home, health, and family were things Wanese once took for granted. That was before she began using drugs at the age of 13, starting with heroin, and soon afterward, cocaine and marijuana. She started just to fit in with her peers, but her addiction continued for 27 years. Over that time, a life that was once stable disintegrated.

“I come from a beautiful home. My mother was a registered nurse, and she understood addiction, so she was my support. My brothers and my dad, they gave up on me. They didn’t believe in me, because they didn’t understand addiction.” Wanese struggled to hold a job, and acquired a criminal record. She battled depression and attempted suicide three times. She had a son but was unable to be a good parent.

Wanese had tried entering treatment, but each time, she couldn’t stop using drugs. “I wasn’t ready to stop getting high. I thought I was, but I wasn’t. I was trying to stop for all the wrong reasons. It wasn’t for myself. It was for my mom, my son, or for the court.” Each time, she missed her appointments and eventually walked off the program. It seemed there was no way out.

But one year ago, she decided to try again. Sitting in a jail cell for a drug dealing charge, she made up her mind to succeed this time. She thought of her son, now 18, about to graduate high school. She knew he needed her in his life. “I decided to turn my life around. I surrendered in jail. I prayed to God and told Him that if I could get through this 24 hours, I would never use again.” So once again, Wanese walked in to Brandywine Counseling, having vowed to stay clean right from the door. Could she do it? It wouldn’t be easy.

Her willpower was tested right after admission, when she landed a job with a pharmaceutical company. She really liked the job, but stressed about it. Could she get to work on time after her daily methadone dose? Would her hair sample reveal her past drug use? Would they fire her for it? Wanese almost gave up and walked away from treatment again. But with her counselor’s encouragement, she stuck it out. Her company learned of her past drug use, and her involvement in treatment. They were supportive, they didn’t fire her, and she was very happy.

At the same time she was learning to cope with stress, Wanese was also finding outside peer support and structure. When she entered BCI, she had also put herself in a transitional housing program, Mary Mother of Hope. There, she attended support groups and got help with life skills like starting a savings account and budgeting plan. She also began going to 12 Step meetings in the community, 3-4 times a week. She was gaining focus, and finding stepping stones to a new life.

Her BCI counselor, Zona Holloman, was also a big help because she could share her own recovery experience with Wanese. “She has helped me tremendously. Dealing with a counselor that has been down the same road and path that I have been through, that can relate to what an addict’s coming from, made a lot of difference. She has helped me to understand a variety of things I didn’t know coming into this process. Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, or getting a sponsor, or making sure that I was in a safe haven. Letting me know that anything is possible as far as me advancing in life, and I could go on and on.”

Wanese’s own determination, plus the support of others, was working in her favor. She was keeping her promise to stay clean. Right from the door, she had not even a single positive drug screen. It wasn’t long before she reached the 90 day milestone. She was awarded weekend takehome medication, joining over 400 BCI clients at this stage. Soon, three months became six, and then nine, and she continued to earn more bottles. Excitedly, she burst into Zona’s office one day with the words, “I received my third bottle, and it is beautiful! Especially the weekend ones, because I don’t have to get up or rush to come to the clinic.” Each new bottle was a reminder of what was really beautiful, her new life.

Wanese recently celebrated one year clean. She has a good job. She’s been off probation for 9 months. She bought a car that has helped her attend more 12 Step meetings. She even chairs the meetings at her home group and finds other members to share their life story. She has a good sponsor and works on placing the 12 Steps into her life every day. And, she has her brand new apartment.

“I moved into my own place last week. I’m still on the same format and program, just like if I was at Mary Mother of Hope. I’m in the house by 10:00, even through curfew is at 11. I still make my meetings, I still do my Step work, I still affiliate myself with people who are clean and sober, and I’m still adjusting.”

She has new goals and plans, like going back to college. “I have a degree in computer science [but] because of my drug use, I’m not in that field today. Times have changed, as far as computer technology. [Now,] I would like to be a drug and alcohol counselor.”

Most important of all, she has her son back in her life. She achieved custody and he will move in with her after graduation, to the new apartment. Wanese is free of drugs and has gotten back what she’d lost. Home, health, and family. “It’s a beautiful feeling. There’s just not a word that really can describe it. It’s only through the grace of God. It’s a beautiful feeling.”

H.E.R.O.I.N. Hurts 5th Annual Walk for Treatment and Recovery

Saturday September 12, 2009
Battery Park, New Castle, DE

H.E.R.O.I.N. Hurts invites all their members, family, and friends to join in the fun and fellowship. The proceeds from the walk will help increase their ability to support, educate, and advocate for families and loved ones dealing with substance abuse. The proceeds will also help H.E.R.O.I.N. Hurts continue to offer financial help to those who want to enter halfway houses after treatment but don’t have the funds to do so.

This is a great opportunity to show your support and meet the members of H.E.R.O.I.N. Hurts as well as some of the people they have helped throughout the years. H.E.R.O.I.N. Hurts is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a nonprofit organization. The success of the walk depends on friends like you.

A registration form and pledge sheet can be downloaded here. Please try to get family and friends to support you in the walk by making a pledge. No amount is too small. We hope to see many of you join in the walk.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Today is National Call-In Day to Include Addiction in Health Care Reform

National Addiction Health Care Reform Call-in Day: Make sure every health care reform bill includes addiction services. Take Action!

Call your members of Congress on TODAY, Wednesday, June 17, to tell them to make sure addiction prevention, treatment and recovery-support are included in Health Care Reform!

Today, June 17, the addiction prevention, treatment and recovery communities, along with allies from the mental health community, are hosting a Call-In Day to make sure that health care responses to addiction and mental health conditions are part of any national health care reform proposal considered by Congress. Call your members of Congress, and make sure our voice is heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill!

Background: Members of Congress and the Obama Administration are hard at work on proposals to reform the nation's health care system. Some drafts and proposals have already been released, and others will be released in the next few days. These bills will be reviewed, amended and (if all goes according to plan) voted on before Congress leaves Washington for its August recess. For more information about these health care reform proposals and NAADAC's responses to them, please visit

So far, all of the draft healthcare bills or proposals include some mention of addiction and mental health. However, the serious discussions are just getting underway and strong advocacy will be needed to make sure that the full continuum of addiction and mental health services are included and will be available for people seeking recovery, just like any other health condition.

Click "Take Action" and then enter your zip code to get the names and phone numbers of your members of Congress.

Please join others from across the country to flood Capitol Hill with calls about the importance of including addiction and mental health services in health care reform!

This message was sent by the NAADAC-NAATP Government Relations Department, 1001 N. Fairfax St., Ste. 201, Alexandria, VA 22314 Ph: 800.548.0497 x129

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's Not Too Late to Write Your Legislator

We're still awaiting the 2010 budget for the State of Delaware, and what it will mean for BCI's services. Cuts will be coming, how much is still yet to be determined. Many of our staff are taking time out of our schedule to meet with legislators and advocate as much as we can. We need your help!

If you believe addiction services are important, there's still time to make your voice heard. Use our sample letter to send to your State Representative or Senator. It takes hardly any time at all. When I sent mine, I even got a response back. If you don't know who your legislators are, you can call the numbers listed here. Thank you for your support!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Moms Learn There's More to Parenting Than Having the Baby

Focus on Families, BCI's parenting program, held graduation on June 10 for six moms and their kids. There was lunch, cake and presentation of certificates. The moms talked about what they learned in the 16 week program:

“[I learned] how to deal more with my daughter, and her attitude and her mouth, instead of cursing and getting angry and hollering at her all the time. That was a big issue, I always hollered at her for anything. Now I know how to discipline her, and talk to her in more of a constructive way.”

“What I got out of the program was how to deal with your children of all ages. I’ve also learned how to frame sentences better, and how to put words in sentences better. I also learned that you can be a parent, but it takes a mother to be a parent - or a father to be a parent - not just to have the baby, but to spend quality time with the child. Also that you can discipline a child, by not hitting a child, by timeout, learning how to say no, and just not abuse your child by hitting.”

“I learned how to step back and take a look at things. My favorite thing was to jump in and yell and scream, and I’ve gotten better with that, I think. I’ve gotten a little better with communication with my kids. It’s taught me quite a bit to deal with my oldest.”

We also asked our graduates why they would recommend Focus on Families to others:

“It is wonderful. If you take your time and really appreciate what the information has to offer, and what the facilitators have to offer, and you really put your heart into it, you get out what you put into it. It’s a wonderful program if you are ready to learn, and willing to take it all in, and actually do the work. It’s wonderful.”

“It’s lots of homework, but the homework is so that you can take it home and you can think about it more. Instead of getting it done real fast in class, it gives you time to get inside yourself more.”

“I did the program twice, and the second time I got even more out of it than I did the first time. If you want to improve yourself as being a good parent, not just raising a kid, but to actually be able to deal with your kids, to bring them up in a more positive way than you were brought up, I think that you should take advantage of the program and what it has to offer.”

The next round of Focus on Families begins Monday June 22, from 11 AM to 12 Noon at 2713 Lancaster Avenue. Group takes place Mondays and Thursdays from 11 AM to 12 Noon. Focus on Families is free and you do not have to be a BCI client. For more information or to sign up, please contact Jackie Akins at 656-2348, ext. 118.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hope and Healing Through Collage

Hi, this is Sarah Halladay, a CORE Counselor at BCI Lancaster. As a facilitator of two weekly groups I am frequently looking for new ideas and strategies to make my groups interesting and meaningful to the individuals who sacrifice their time each week to join together with their peers. The use of art techniques in therapeutic settings can help elicit feelings and thoughts that can be difficult to verbalize. The idea of collaging came to me after attending a training seminar in which we were asked to collage an important experience in our life. This activity was quite meaningful to me as a participant, and I hoped it was something I could share with my own group members.

Group day arrived, and prepared with cookies to pique my group’s interest, I explained the activity and doled out materials. The group members began working on their individual projects, and gradually, a variety of conversations took place. Conversation ranged from the recent Memorial holiday, to reminding one another to be conscious of healthy eating habits, to the importance of maintaining hope in the recovery process, particularly when one has lost their footing and perhaps fallen.

As the work took place I was curious to see if my group members would fully engage in this activity. During the 45 minutes allotted to construction, I could see each individual fervently searching for the perfect picture or phrase; it was clear that members were engaged and recognizing the value of this activity. One senior member commented, “I feel like a child playing with a new toy,” her inspiration apparent as she worked. This inspiration became even more evident as we began to go around our table and share what the collages meant to each person.

Collaged themes were as varied as the conversation that occurred while they were being created. One collage depicted the cost of addiction and how concretely his addiction has affected the creator’s life. Another collage elicited its creator’s recognition of the positive changes he has made since obtaining sobriety and the goals he hopes to attain through his recovery. One collage painted a literal picture of the creator’s internal mood and struggle that day; the group discussed that this could act as a barometer of sorts for the client to reflect on in the future when assessing her progress and current mood.

A common theme of several collages was the physical affects of drug use and the importance of taking care of one’s health and nutrition. Group members lamented that this aspect of self is too often neglected when a person is struggling with an addiction. Personal obstacles and triumphs were explored. As each member shared their collage with pride to their peers, their thought and creativity shined through their carefully selected imagery.

This unique group of individuals from different ages, backgrounds, and stages of life were able to come together and share the common theme of hope for a better tomorrow through the medium of art. This group process renewed my belief in the healing power of group. It also further inspired me to continue to search for new ways to inspire and touch the lives of my group members, in the short time each week I have the pleasure to spend with them.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Brandywine Counseling Names Lynn Fahey As Executive Director

Brandywine Counseling, Inc. (BCI), a non-profit provider of addiction treatment and HIV/AIDS prevention services, today announced the appointment of Lynn M. Fahey, Ph.D. as its new Executive Director. In this role, she will direct, supervise, and coordinate administrative functions and the activities of the organization. Dr. Fahey will take over as Executive Director July 1 for Sara Taylor “Sally” Allshouse, who is retiring after 21 years.

“I am honored to continue Sally's legacy of innovative and extraordinarily high-quality care to individuals with substance abuse and mental health issues,” said Dr. Fahey.

Dr. Fahey has worked for BCI for 16 years, progressing from Counselor to Clinical Supervisor to her current position of Site Director for the Alpha Outpatient Program. She has developed, implemented, and managed programs serving over 300 active clients. She has worked with a variety of populations including adolescents, dual diagnosed, pregnant women, mothers and criminal justice. Under her leadership, the Outpatient Program has consistently met Performance-Based Contact requirements, decreased patient wait time and no-shows, incorporated Evidence-Based Practices, and created a team environment with very low staff turnover.

Dr. Fahey received her Ph.D. in Psychology in 2007 from Saybrook Research Institute. Her studies focused on organizational systems, business and management systems, program evaluation, and change management She obtained her M.A. in Psychology in 1996 from Washington College, and her B.A in Political Science in 1991 from DeSales University. She has dual certification in Alcohol and Drug Addiction (CADC, Delaware), which includes diverse counseling skills, case management, supervision, program development, and program management.

Brandywine Counseling, Inc. is a non-profit substance abuse treatment agency that provides counseling and related assistance to addicted persons and their families for chemical addiction and related problems. 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

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lancaster's New Reception Area

What do you think of our new reception area at Lancaster? We've added some walls and a sliding glass partition for Ms. Joyce's area. The big countertop is gone, the lighting is improved, and the space looks a lot more professional and welcoming.

We'd like to thank Lori Henry for volunteering as our space planner for this project. She was a terrific help, particularly in the area of cost savings. The sliding glass window was actually taken from another area of the building where it wasn’t being used. Lori also connected us with Village Builders, the contractor that did the work and gave us a discounted rate. These days, funding is scarce for us to do renovations like this, so we’re grateful to find people who want to give back to the community. Please check out Lori’s Web site, Transformations By Lori.

As we put the finishing touches on the reception area, we also have more projects in the works that Lori is helping us with, so keep your eyes open. And as always, if you want to volunteer your construction, decorating, or any other skills, drop us an email!

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Life Saved By Inches

A few inches made all the difference for James. The difference between life and death. Between hope and despair. Between a life he's now living to the fullest, and one he wanted to end.

Seven months ago, James was admitted to Wilmington Hospital with a self-inflicted stab wound to the chest. It was his fourth suicide attempt. By inches, he survived. And by inches, he gained the chance to get help, become sober, and make a remarkable transformation in a very short time.

For 49 years, James had been living a life he thought was normal. He drank heavily from an early age, but all his family and friends did. His diabetes and other health issues just kind of happened. When he lost his job, it was natural to feel depressed and not want to leave the house. Even his attempts on his own life made sense. “My suicide attempts, I didn’t think was a big deal,” he recalls. “Sometimes, I just felt I needed to take myself out.” In his eyes, it was all normal.

But that began to change last November. Thanks to a new partnership between a hospital and a drug treatment program, James faced the underlying issues behind his suicidal thoughts. “A gentleman came into the hospital from Brandywine Counseling and gave me some information. I had never done anything as far as addressing my addictions at all in my life, and I did have a serious, serious problem. I realized that I had to do something. I was ready to turn my life around.”

The gentleman was BCI outreach worker Bobbie Dillard, who works full time at Wilmington Hospital. He meets with patients who show signs of substance abuse, and links them to services when they’re ready. BCI and Wilmington Hospital started this partnership last fall after seeing more and more people showing up at the hospital with injuries sustained while intoxicated. It’s here that many, like James, first discover they have a drug problem, and often, mental illness as well. Right from the start, the service proved successful. In four months, Bobbie met with 122 patients and referred 99 to drug treatment. Like James, 35% had never had treatment before.

Shaken, but ready for change, James walked in the door to BCI Alpha. The staff quickly put his fears to rest. “Ms. Evelyn, [the receptionist,] was very nice. I felt comfortable with her. And the young lady who did my intake, [Maria Cruz], she was very nice. I felt I had made a big first step. It was the first day of my new life.” Like 45% of Alpha’s admissions, James had co-occurring drug abuse and mental illness. Because of his severe depression and past suicide attempts, he was assigned to counselor Keith Kaut, a co-occurring disorders specialist. He attended weekly individual sessions and a Co-Occurring Disorders Group. But it was the individual counseling that helped the most.

“My one-on-ones with Keith, they’ve been terrific. We’ve gone deep with a shovel on a lot of things. Things that were haunting me, and I didn’t realize it. We’ve brought them up, brought them to the forefront, and reburied them, and I don’t have to worry about them anymore."

Keith had James write letters to people he was angry with, not to send, but to unfreeze his own anger he was turning inward, causing his depression. James also learned to address his suicidal thoughts, which would return from time to time, and to reach out instead of isolating himself. With Keith’s guidance, his hopelessness began to turn into self-confidence.

“The main subject in how he’s helped me, is me. I’ve never really liked myself. I never really had much confidence in myself. He’s allowed me to take a step back, and look at myself, and be able to have more confidence in myself.”

James began attending AA regularly. He found a primary care doctor and began to deal with long-standing medical issues. He reconnected with his brother after 13 years and began weekly visits. Slowly, he began to feel a change take place. But just how much of a change, was a huge surprise. Keith had him take a self-test, the Beck Depression Inventory, on a regular basis. It’s one of the most widely used measures of depression. His first score, just after admission, was a 52 out of 63, severe depression. A month later, he scored a 30, more moderate, but still severe. Three months later, he scored a 2, which is minimal depression, nearly the lowest possible score. James was stunned at the result.

“It’s kind of amazing. Some of the questions, the lowest you can answer is a zero. I was actually looking for a minus one on some of them, because they just didn’t seem relevant, or they didn’t show the happiness that I would like to answer.”

Keith Kaut was equally shocked. In 23 years as a therapist, he’d never seen this before. “It almost knocked me out of my chair. You just don’t see a 50 to a 2 in five, six months. It just kind of doesn’t happen.”

But both client and counselor knew that behind that score was real-life change. “It shows me all the work that I’ve put in, and what Brandywine Counseling has done for me,” James says. “A lot of people say, ‘You’re gonna hear people say you look like you’ve changed, as you go through recovery, but you’re not really gonna see that in yourself.’ But I actually see it in myself. In my personality, my behavior, my knowledge, how I treat other people, my belief in myself. It’s amazing.”

“My body feels clean. My mind feels clean. My memory’s starting to come back. I’ve had two doctor’s appointments this week, and I’ve walked back from Wilmington Hospital through Brandywine Park, and just the smell of the outdoors. I just appreciate things that I really didn’t appreciate before. I appreciate my husband more than I used to, even though he still has the same faults he did before. I appreciate my newfound family. [My brother and I] hadn’t spoke for 13 years, and we’re now reunited.”

Today, James has seven months clean and will soon graduate from treatment. He sees it as just the start of the next phase. “Getting a paper certificate is really no big deal. I’d like to still participate in the groups, because I’ve learned an awful lot here. I see the people that come in and out of my groups, and I know where I was when I first came here, and what I’ve learned, and things I’ve been able to share with my friends. I want to do that for other people that need it. Seeing what I can do for other people will help me continue to do the great things I’m doing for myself.”

It’s hard to believe James is the same person who tried to take his own life just seven months ago. Appreciative, empathetic, motivated, he has challenges ahead, but he’s ready to take them on. He’s still out of work, but diligently job-hunting. “The market’s not too good, but I’m out there every day passing out my resume like it’s the newspaper, and I’m on the computer every day, so something’s got to come up.” He’s also lost 40 pounds in six months. And, he’s looking forward to some long-needed dental work, knowing it will do wonders for his self-esteem. “That’s going to be wonderful for me, like getting a paint job on the car. The car’s been in the shop for six months, now it’s time to get a paint job.”

Incredibly, none of this would have been possible had he not lived to take a chance at recovery. By inches, he gained that chance. But he was equally lucky that his hospital partnered with a drug treatment center. After his prior suicide attempts, he “fell through the cracks,” discharged with no connection to treatment, not realizing he even had a problem. This time, he got the information that started him on his successful path. What if circumstances had been different?

“I would’ve tried to take my life again, I’m sure. I would’ve been still drinking, doing drugs, living the same lifestyle, thinking it was normal. Looking back on it now, it’s not normal, and I’m going to do everything in my power and with the help of the Lord to not be that way again.”

Real normalcy was within James’ reach. A difference of inches actually made a difference immeasurable. “To have drugs and alcohol out of my life, it’s just been great, and the future’s only gonna get better. Once you clear your mind of all that junk, and you finally get a chance to do baby steps, it just starts rolling, and more things just happen more and more quickly, more great things in your life.”

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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Client's Review of BCI: Turn Your Life Around and Get Your Freedom Back

We had to share this with you. One of our clients wrote a heartfelt and honest review of BCI on "Ronzo" has been in and out of treatment for close to 9 years. They received "life changing services that turned my life around in the right direction." Here are some excerpts from their review:

On gratitude to BCI:

They really take it upon themselves to provide you with the up most care and affection they possibly can. If there wasn't places like brandywine counseling than I might not be here today.
On how treatment reduces crime:

It keeps the crime down, "in there part of town anyway". You might say how? If a drug addict needs drugs every day to keep from getting sick. When he or she run's out of money look out, because someone is getting robbed so thats how. If we don't have to worry about getting sick thanks to brandywine counseling then everyone on drugs gets the medication and mental stability to keep off of drugs then everyone is happy and there car radio's are snug and secure in there dash boards.
On what they enjoyed the most:

Learning to love my self and to respect others that have the same or similar problems as myself.

On the biggest challenges facing the organization:

Keeping the place up and running because I can say that they try and help every one that comes in there door but that comes with a cost of course nothing is free and asking a drug addict at rock bottom to pay for it some times is asking a lot.
On why to come in for help:

So if there is anyone out there that wants to come clean I would really recommend BCI. It's a great place to turn your life around and get your freedom back from addiction, and make amends with family and friends not to mention your higher power.
Ronzo, thanks so much for your review. It means a lot to us as staff, and it can really help others who are looking for help. We wish you well in your recovery.

Do you want to share your experience as a client? Want to tell us what’s good and what needs improvement? Write your review today.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Register for the Next Round of Focus on Families

The next round of Focus on Families at BCI begins Monday June 22, from 11 AM to 12 Noon at 2713 Lancaster Avenue. Group takes place Mondays and Thursdays from 11 AM to 12 Noon. Graduation will be Thursday October 29, 2009.

BCI prevention programs increase protective factors for youth, educate parents and children about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, and increase the perception of danger of drug use.
Focus on Families is a science-based intervention for families in which parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
  • Parents and children attend group counseling and receive case management aimed at reducing parents' illegal drug use and children's risk factors.
  • Individual case management by our Prevention Specialist reinforces the skills learned and applies them to the home environment. Children practice the skills with their parents.
    Session topics include family goal setting, relapse prevention, family communication skills, and helping children succeed in school.
  • Upon completion of the 16 week program, participants graduate and receive a certificate.
  • Focus on Families is free and you do not have to be a BCI client. For more information or to sign up, please contact Jackie Akins at 656-2348, ext. 118.

Monday, June 1, 2009

David Owens, BCI Payroll Coordinator, 1967-2009

Former BCI staff member David Owens passed away May 29, 2009 at age 42. He was our Payroll/Accounts Payable Coordinator from 2005-06. David was one of those people we all enjoyed being around, for both the professional way he did his job and for his pleasant personality. He continued to work as long as he was able, and we were sorry to see him go. David will be missed by all of us who had the chance to know him.

Funeral service will be held at 6 PM on Tuesday June 2, 2009 at Hicks Home for Funerals, 103 W. Stockton St., Elkton, MD 21921. Visitation will begin at 4 PM. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Northern Chesapeake Hospice Foundation or ALS in care of the funeral home.