Addiction Therapist, 1982 – 1988
In 1982, as a recent graduate, I was ready to begin a career and Stonehenge Therapeutic Community was looking to fill some vacancies – a perfect match!
I started my employment at Stonehenge as a part time relief staff working evenings and weekends. As luck would have it, shortly thereafter, I was hired as a permanent, full time addictions therapist. I was very involved in all parts of the program and eventually the co-ordination of services and the management of the part time staff team. Many parts of the program were “under development” and we were all learning together about addiction and recovery. STC supported my professional development and in turn I shared what I learned with the team, building and rebuilding services. But more importantly it was the residents who taught me the most valuable lessons about addiction. They taught me about life as an addict and the struggles, hardships and difficulties that went along with it. Many of the stories they shared still resonate with me today – 34 years later!
Stonehenge in 1982 was not an easy program or a quick fix. Residents were separated from family, friends and sometimes children for months and years at a time. When I think back, their determination is a source of inspiration. Although there were daily trials and tribulations, I also remember lots of laughter and fun. My memory of STC residents is that they were an assorted collection of men and women who were intelligent and creative, often very funny and striving to live a happy life.
After leaving Stonehenge, I went on to have a long and successful career. STC qualified me for my next steps. I had knowledge and experience for sure but I had also developed personally. I understood the importance of challenging addiction with an honest and upfront approach in combination with empathy and compassion. After Stonehenge, I joined the Addiction Program of the Homewood Health Centre. I started as a frontline clinician participating on an interdisciplinary team. In a few years, I became a Program Manager and for the last 20 years I have been involved with administration overseeing budget submissions, HR activities and continuous quality improvement. Today I am the Director of Operations involved in all aspects of the operation of the Health Centre. In addition, for the past 15 years I have been a surveyor with Accreditation Canada supporting the evaluation of mental health and addiction programs across the country. My experience at Stonehenge has been a constant benefit to me.
When I think about the 6 years I spent with the residents and team at Stonehenge, I feel that I was incredibly lucky. I was part of something very unique and meaningful. I will always be grateful for the opportunity. I learned about the heartbreak of addiction and the possibility of recovery. I witnessed countless examples of courage, hope, triumph and the resilience of the human spirit.
I wish STC – the staff, board, volunteers and the residents – 45 more years of continued success!
Congratulations and best wishes to all!