My former Community College of Philadelphia colleagues, Pascal Scoles and Francesca DiRosa, explain in “The Healing Pillars of Collegiate Recovery—A Community College Model of Recovery And Education”(to be published in the Journal of Student Affairs Research And Practice), that individuals in recovery need (and services for them should provide) five things: “(1) a sense of hope (2) a secure/supportive relationship (3) a means for self-reflection (4) avenues for mastery and competence exploration and (5) a sense of generativity and meaning.”
For optimal living, we all need those things, but having them in good order can mean the difference between life and death for individuals who are in recovery from substance use disorder. They must put their lives back together after experiencing the hell of addiction.
Meet AmeriCorps worker Deidrah Stanchfield, who works with the men at The Friends House in Rockland, Maine, a recovery residence operated by Mid-Coast Recovery Coaltion, on whose board I serve. Last week, her Facebook list of things for which she is grateful made me think about those healing pillars that Scoles and DiRosa see as essential.
Deidrah acknowledges her appreciation for “sobriety, pancakes, my mom and the rest of my family too.” She proudly names trusted friends and talks about “serious conversations.” She expresses gratitude “for learning ASL and opportunities to practice, for earning my frigging associates degree and continuing on for what I really want, for chainsaws and gasoline, steel toes and Carhartts, for public affection and sweetness, for the raw and the real and the people that show up and wake up early just to see me.”
There’s poetry in there. And people, reflection, meaning, and purpose. She’s working it, isn’t she? She’s changed.
Listen to her description of life before those changes. It’s kind of the opposite of her grateful list! https://www.stormwarriors.org/project/deidrahs-testimoment/
Deidrah Stanchfield is making the most of the kinds of supports that Scoles and DiRosa tell us make a difference. She is living proof of their importance—when used. And use them, she does.
- When I read her list, I see hope all over it. (Pillar 1).
- There’s evidence of key relationships (dependable and healthy)—and of her awareness of their importance (Pillar 2).
- Her self-reflection comes across in powerful poetic language. Clearly, that kind of metacognition is part of her regular activities (Pillar 3).
- While holding down a full-time job, being a mom, and working part-time with Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition, she continues her studies toward another degree and is learning American Sign Language, so she has MANY avenues for exploring, developing, and mastering skills—and she is making full use of them (Pillar 4).
- Many people are busy, but Deidrah’s activities impact organizations and people. What she does matters, and knowing that it does seems to fuel her. Her many activities provide her with plenty of meaning and purpose (Pillar 5).
Congratulations to Deidrah on all that she has accomplished. When she sat down to list a bunch of people, places, and things in her life for which she was grateful, she wasn’t trying to create a turning point for other people, but what she wrote just might cause others to see things differently. And we know that how one thinks about the way life works makes a difference in how one lives.
Thank you, Deidrah.
Ned Bachus is the author of Open Admissions: What Teaching at Community College Taught Me About Learning (Wild River Books, 2017) and of the “Turning Points” weekly blog on nedbachus.com. City of Brotherly Love (Fleur-de-Lis Books), his book of stories was awarded the 2013 IPPY Gold Medal for Literary Fiction.