July 24th, the day of the Consumer Conference, still seems
like a pleasant dream to me. What’s really hip about conferences put
on by consumers is that the keynote speaker, the workshops, the speeches,
all have to do with issues that affect our everyday lives. This year’s
event was even better than last year’s, in fact it seems whoever is
staging this event has gotten it down to a fine art. My favorite
part is the camaraderie’: there is nothing better than to be in a
room of hundreds of people who think and feel just like you do, and
who walk daily in the same shoes as you. We get to see old friends and
welcome new ones aboard the freedom train. The amount of healing and
growth that occur at these events is immeasurable.
If there is one thing we have grown to accept, it’s broken promises.
So two years ago when Janet Olszewski (Director,
Michigan Department of Community Health)
promised her support for our cause the general feeling was ‘We’ll
believe it when we see it’. Almost immediately there was an increase
in Peer Support trainings. We now have The Virtual Center of Excellence,
support for the Recovery Council has increased, and among other great
things: the Michigan Department of Community Mental Health Boards has
come up with new initiatives centered solely on our recovery. None of
this would be possible without Ms. Olszewski opening doors and pulling
strings. The other day I got a hug from her and it occurred to me that
she cares about our plight from deep within her heart and that makes
us all winners.
The Clubhouses are hubs of growth for us and it is sad to see that one
has to close as in the case of the Fisher Clubhouse. However, there
are plans in the works to change that poison into medicine. Recovery
requires a ‘returning’ to who we were prior to the onset of disease.
During the Civil Rights movement Martin Luther King coined the phrase
"limitations to our achievements" and today in reference
to folks in recovery the equivalent phrase is “capability depravation’.
Both of which refer to a systematic denial of a peoples right to be
the best they can be. Thanks to Joe Tardella and Southwest Solutions,
Shirley Cockrell and Go-Getters will be moving into the building formerly
occupied by Fisher Clubhouse. We will be establishing the ‘Recovery
Center of Creativity’. (RCC). Utilizing Peer Support
and the Recovery Enhancing Environment model, (developed
by the Recovery Council)
we will provide a place where artists will work and grow in an atmosphere
conducive to creativity and recovery. The RCC will then assist consumers
in showcasing their accomplishments, often along with the Recovery Band.
Years ago, around the same time I attended my first Consumer Conference,
Pam Werner (Michigan Department
of Community Health) was
accentuating the concept ‘”Believe it, achieve it’” My dream
was to one day provide the entertainment at that event. When I was asked
to do just that for this years Consumer Conference all I could think
was that dreams can come true if you really believe in them, and then
work to find those who believe in you enough to help you achieve your
goals of freedom and independence. I spent years trying to do my recovery
based on criteria set by those who had never walked in my shoes. The
leaders in the system who helped me the most in my recovery are those
who did and said things that caused me to enhance the recovery that
was already inside of me. They then offered me their praise and support.
Arise Detroit is a group of over 300 community based organizations organized
by Luther Keith (Detroit
News writer/retired). For
the second year in a row Arise Detroit is sponsoring ‘Neighborhoods
Day’. This is a day when hundreds of groups from around the city simultaneously
hold Block Parties’. The ‘Recovery Band’ is proud to have been
invited once again to participate in this event. This demonstrates that
people in recovery are not only capable of doing great things, but also
can succeed at giving back to the community. The spot where we will
be performing is Luce Park, which is located on Luce Street and St.
Louis, south of 6 Mile, between Mt. Elliott St. and Mound. Road. We
will begin playing around 12:00 PM. August 2nd.
Then on August 7th we will be playing the 1st
Annual Tri-County Consumers Rights Conference. This will take place
at 2601 W. Big Beaver Rd, Troy Mi. This conference promises to be very
informative when it comes to consumer issues and will offer insight
into how we feel about the current system of treatment and recovery.
Hope to see you at at least one of these events.