Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Visions of Recovery

from Gerald Butler:


Arise Detroit’s Neighborhoods Day is an annual event
where community groups from all over Wayne County hold ‘Block
and August 1st has officially been
declared “Neighborhoods Day’ by the Detroit City
Council. In keeping with our community outreach efforts, The
Band played the St. Louis/Luce Block Club
for the second year in a row. The more community outreach
we do, the more we see that most “Stigma’ is due to a
lack of knowledge. I used to think of the band in terms of imparting
the message of hope to others in recovery. I now realize the
importance of demonstrating to the public at large how recovery is
possible. We sincerely thank Arise Detroit for giving us an
opportunity to give back to the community.

When I founded the Recovery Band it was because even though I
had some grand accomplishments under my belt, such as Empowerment
Day, I was still being treated on a daily basis as ‘lesser
’. I remember thinking “I must have a least
one attribute that folks could not be critical of
”. I was
born a musician and then I became sick. So I looked for other ‘born
’ in recovery and formed the ‘Recovery Band’
for last years ‘Empowerment Day’ celebration. Since that
time we have played for various State, County, and Community events.
Rarely does any band have as much success in such a short amount of
time as we have.

A significant part of our accomplishments is due to the
support we have received from The Michigan Department of Community
Health, Detroit Wayne County CMH, Michigan Association of Community
Mental Health Boards, and too many others to mention here. Of course
it helps that we are a great band to listen and dance to. This is
because the Recovery Band is more a Peer Support group than we are a
band and that support for each other shows through in the music we
play. It is our mission to encourage as many people as possible to
seek recovery by getting back to what they were prior to becoming
ill. Thus we are establishing a recovery center of creativity.

It is sad to see the closing of Fisher Clubhouse, as no
clubhouse should ever cease operations. In the mode of turning
poison into medicine’ Southwest Solutions is
replacing Fisher Clubhouse with Go-Getters, the only certified
consumer run Drop In Center in Wayne County. Along with other
consumer run programs, Go-Getters will be forming a center of
recovery through creativity. The center will utilize Peer Support to
provide a recovery-enhanced environment where consumer artists,
poets, musicians, etc. will feel peaceful and encouraged enough to
express themselves through their artistry.

Change is always scary but without it society stagnates. When
the idea of community based treatment arose 30 some years ago, very
few thought it would work. Consumers were afraid of being on our own,
and professionals did not feel we were capable of taking care of
ourselves. Notwithstanding financial concerns, the very idea of
closing a Clubhouse was unheard of. Our greatest asset as consumers
is that we have leaders who are willing to accept things as they are
and make changes accordingly. The Freedom Commission does not only
recommend this type of leadership but it also assures that the
recovery process continues uninterrupted.

When looking at their housing initiatives, it becomes clear
Southwest Solutions has the willingness to understand future consumer
directed recovery based funding streams. They then make the necessary
changes now, as opposed to waiting until such change becomes
mandated. Replacing the Fisher Clubhouse program with Go-Getters, a
proven ‘consumer directed’ one that has been in
existence for 13 years, clearly demonstrates Southwest’s desire
to put consumers first and foremost. Nationwide, there are currently
two programs (Connecticut and Philadelphia) encouraging
recovery through artistry. To view these programs, go to
Those involved with the Recovery Band realize the tremendous benefits
of communicating recovery artistically to not only us, but also to
those who hear our music. The band is going to be sincerely involved
with Go-Getters and Southwest to make this a success. We hope to have
this initiative in place by the 1st of September, at which
time we will be asking consumer artist of all genres to join us.

Martin Luther King used the term “Limitations to our
Achievements” in reference to systematic impediments to the
success of Black citizens. Today the terminology ‘Capability
Deprivation’ applies to the obstacles in the way of folks in
recovery. However, due to some great leadership in Lansing, any
artificial walls blocking our successful recovery are being torn down
on a daily basis. We now have a choice as to rather or not we wish to
get on board the Freedom Train. I encourage every consumer to find
and work closely with leaders in the system whose dreams are the same
as ours, RECOVERY.

Gerald Butler

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