Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Visions of Recovery

From Gerald Butler:


A few weeks ago Visions visited the newest Clubhouse in Wayne County and the “Network” clubhouse is off to a really great start. Angela Fuqua (Clubhouse Unit Leader) is someone who was also my counselor 13 years ago when I was in treatment. Even though she was an administrator at the time, Angela was practicing a form of Peer Support even then: she would say to all who would listen recovery is possible. Over the few hours we were at the clubhouse, Ms. Fuqua continuously stressed that the clubhouse belongs to the consumers; it is run by consumers and designed solely for consumers benefit. Having once been a consumer herself it is easy for her to empathize with those we serve. I know the high value consumers place on such factors as, integrity, and heartfelt concern”. Angela Fuqua

At a recent Peer Choices meeting, Jeff Brown (Exec. Director/ Oakland County CMH) told the group that his role was solely one of support. He basically told them to put their hopes and dreams into a workable form, and he would do all he could to make them a reality. Jeff demonstrates confidence and trust in consumers to make good decisions, thus encouraging them to become independent. Consumers then ‘pay it forward’ by spreading the message of recovery on to other consumers. This is how we contribute to System Transformation “Success in the lives of those we serve must be the measure of our success”. Jeff Brown

Just as in every other culture in the world we too talk among ourselves, and the word on the street is Marti Bush (Director/ Public Relations/ Gateway) is spreading a ton of love, hope and encouragement among the recovering community. In fact every consumer I talk with who has had dealings with her come away feeling as if they were treated specially. It is recommended that administrators not get close to their clients but that does not rule out having a heart, and Marti certainly has shown how big a person she really is.” I do what I do because I have seen the important role self respect and dignity play in a persons recovery process, and the more consumers I help, the better I feel”. Marti sees us as people with solvable problems, not statistics.

Although Barry Broden (Detroit Wayne County CMH) is not a consumer, he is a model of ‘System Transformation’. Since the consumer band is solely based on the principle of “Peer Support’ everyone involved with us somehow grows. Being the only one in the band with any formal music training it is only right that Barry be the musical director. The first thing Barry does is sincerely listen to what we have to say regarding the direction we want to go, and what music we play. He then PARTNERS with us in support of making our dreams a reality. Our dream is to deal with stigma through our music by showing the world that when consumers are properly supported recovery is expected. "The general population is guilty of shooting themselves in their collective feet every time they/we fail to recognize and encourage the talents and potential contributions of consumers." Barry Broden

These are just a few examples of System Transformation as recommended in the ‘Presidents New Freedom Commission Report’ which states: the leaders of a transformed system of treatment must be dedicated to the concept of recovery. These are folks who’ve made some sort of personal commitment to system transformation, and the entire system grows as a result of their dedication. Although the work these folks do is vital to us, they cannot be paid for what they do as the system cannot mandate that someone care about us. I wish I could explain why but I do know that the more positive the environment we are in, the better we do in recovery.

Actually I am proud to be part of these historic changes in treatment and recovery and I feel that in the future this will be known as the ‘Age of Humanity”. More and more people are starting to accept the fact that we are human beings in need of healing and as more individuals in the system apply basic humane traits, the better we will do in recovery. Empathy, openness, integrity, caring, dignity and respect: there is no longer any doubt as to the vital role these traits play in the recovery process not only for us but also the entire system. As more grand programs and new innovative methods are implemented, we must not forget the role compassion plays in recovery.

Gerald Butler


Consumer Advocate

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