Monday, January 4, 2010

A Moving Forward

by Gerald Butler

        Remodeling is just about complete at the CHARGE space at the Russell site and we will begin operations from there by the first of the year. The list of consumer volunteers has grown to about 30 and we will begin to prepare for a grand opening. We have been using this down time to expand our community out reach and collaborations. The ‘Visions of Recovery Community Gospel Choir’ has been particularly busy since we played the Fort Street Church Open House. Pattie Charleston and I took the choir to the ‘Noel Night’ festivities in Downtown Detroit to see the Rackham Symphony Choir show and meet some of the choir members. They are as just excited as we about our collaboration for the concert for in March.
     At least one of the Rackham Choir members will be working with the Visions Choir between now and the date of the  ‘Concert for the Homeless’. CHARGE is proud to be invited to provide the entertainment for the ‘After Glow’ of this event. The Visions Choir united with Reverend Riggins and the Detroit Rescue Mission for ‘Gospel Night’ at the Russell Center. They also sang at the Detroit Central City Dual Recovery Christmas party where they encouraged consumers to find the rare leaders in the system willing to help us take charge of our lives. Personally, I consider myself lucky because I had positive leaders in my life since the beginning of my recovery journey.
Whether done consciously or unconsciously, providers often set up boundaries that distinguish the consumer from the provider. (Michigan Department of Community Health ‘Issue Paper’ 2009)
        Many providers tend to think of us in this manner, “Look at all the wonderful things I am doing for MY consumers”. Those who distinguish us in this manner are well intentioned. However, just as a loved one can enable another’s addiction, when (even unconsciously) consumers are perceived as incapable, that is how we are treated. This treatment can cause folks to lower their faith in the system and trust in their own ability to take charge of their recovery. A parent who runs alongside a child learning to ride a two-wheeler has to let the child take over at some point. The system of treatment in the U. S. has grown to the point where it should be encouraging and supporting consumer-run, recovery-centered programming. To date, efforts to have a genuinely consumer run entity working within the system have either been unsuccessful or at best, resulted in strained relationships. For the partnership to flourish both sides must have an appreciation and respect for one another. Hopefully, we can make it work with Adult Well Being.    
        I realize that the system does not recognize me by my accomplishments but merely by my illness. So I figured I’d strive to be the best possible recovering consumer. The first thing I had to do was to learn to listen wholeheartedly to what other consumers were saying. Next, I had to confront stigma I had regarding others and myself. I began to view each consumer by their potential, not by their illness. There are literally thousands of consumers who could benefit significantly from being in an uncomplicated, transparent (it is what it is) safe environment run by Certified Peers. Unless and until this occurs no one, not even consumers, will ever know our true capabilities and talents.        
 Gerald Butler 

Norman DeLisle, MDRC
"With Liberty and Access for All!
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