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Monthly Archives: April 2014

My Pathway to Hope

hopeThe word ‘hopeless’ has always stirred up sadness in me.  It seems so final, lacking any room for progress.  I’ve been hopeless.  I’ve been called hopeless. I’ve heard friends whisper behind my back that I lost the willingness to live.  They were right.  I was an active heroin and cocaine user for 15 years and my only job on this earth was to make it through one more day. 

Like so many others, my addiction started with herniated discs, a visit to an empathetic doctor, and a large dose of depression.   I wanted to be out of pain….physical, emotional and mental agony, and my desire met opportunity that day.  From that moment on, the spiral of addiction went downward at top speed and I became a completely different person.  No one knew who I was anymore, especially me.

Then life as I knew it changed.  With a knock at the window of my Nissan Pathfinder and a beam of light hitting my face shone by a man in blue, I realized in that instant that nothing was going to be the same.  I was both terrified and relieved that the life I created was finally over.  The police officer didn’t understand why I thanked him when he pulled me out of my car.  He stopped what I couldn’t.

Going to jail was my intervention, but meeting people who were already on the path to recovery was where my journey started.  I surrendered. I listened. I hoped.  And I had to trust people I never met before. 

I knew about PRO-ACT through the Recovery Walk and a staff member who came weekly to the halfway house where I lived in 2008 (who later became my sponsor!).  She asked if I could stop by the Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center to stuff envelopes, and I did.  I came back the next day, and the next.  I became a volunteer, a facilitator and a recovery coach.  I did this for over a year until I felt I was ready to go back into the work force.  I was supported and encouraged.  I treasured recovery.  I loved meetings and sponsorship and helping others who struggled. I knew this was my calling.

I saw an ad in the paper for a non-profit organization that worked in substance abuse and it needed help with data entry.  Not knowing it was The Council, or that it was  related to PRO-ACT, I applied and got the job.  That was in 2009.  I now manage The Council’s Women’s Recovery Community Center, continue as a Data Coordinator, and help women who struggle to get another day clean by showing them recovery is possible. 

I hope my recovery story helps our communities to see the reality that there truly is help, hope and healing from addiction.  Because today, when I see the word ‘hopeless’, I only see the first four letters, and for that, I’m grateful. 

Jan Landis, CRS
House Coordinator/Data Coordinator
Women’s Recovery Community Center
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc./PRO-ACT

An Ode to PRO-ACT by a Volunteer

I thank God for this place
or who knows where I’d be
still lost, killing myself
or living life too care-free.

At first I was hesitant
didn’t know what to expect
just the thought of being judged
and couldn’t stand no more neglect.

But to my surprise
this is just where I needed to be
with people who understood
and who were willing to help me.

The doors were freely open
I was gladly welcomed in
in my book of life
a new chapter can now begin.

Cause we’ve all traveled the same roads
using different forms of transportation
regardless of our differences
we’ve all caused a lot of devastation.

But today’s a new day
and PRO-ACT’s help set me free
with the resources and support offered
each day becoming a better me.

I don’t know about you
but this place helped save my life
learning to deal with emotions
and stop causing harm and strife.

Today I’m grateful, so appreciative
without being here don’t know what I’d do
from the depths of my heart and soul
PRO-ACT, I truly “thank-you”!

by Sakeenah Edge
PRO-ACT Volunteer

To find out how you can volunteer for PRO-ACT click here.

Addiction: Recovering Main Street

blogDramatic increases in overdose rates now terrorize rural and suburban neighborhoods. Inner cities have long dealt with the quiet desperations of addiction, but now these new communities also are overrun. This clashes with our stereotypes of misuse and addiction.

My point isn’t to criticize very real and merited terror over prescription drug and heroin epidemics. It is to ask: what can we learn from this about our attitudes toward addiction and those who suffer from it?


Read the complete blog at

Tales from The Anonymous People

IMG_4130One of my responsibilities at The Council is to help support showings of the documentary film The Anonymous People.  I have had the privilege of seeing the film 10 times throughout the Philadelphia region.  I know the film by heart. 

But my favorite part of The Anonymous People isn’t the film.  The best part for me is witnessing the reaction of audience members afterwards.  The film has a special way of encouraging people to view addiction and recovery in a different way.  And when a person hears a new perspective about an incurable disease that can destroy lives and fill prisons, it tends to loosen the lips a bit; especially when there has been no public forum for talking about these issues.     

There are a few themes or patterns in the way audience members react to the film’s message.   I call these patterns “tales from the anonymous people.”  Some audience members always leave the theater immediately after the film is over.  I surmise that they have another commitment or wish to smoke a cigarette.  Some viewers who leave are unsettled by the film’s message to consider speaking out in support of recovery.  For some viewers, this message of advocacy cuts against the culture of their recovery.  I clearly respect that sentiment.

There are many other audience members, however, who stay and ask questions.  They listen intently to the discussion and they quietly speak of feeling empowered, hopeful and wanting to support recovery in their community.  They want to support recovery either because they are so thankful for it; still wishing for it to strengthen; or heartbroken because it did not come in time or last long enough for their loved one.  I clearly respect these sentiments as well.  

These are some tales of anonymous people.  And they speak volumes.  These tales say that recovery has come a long way.  We now need a big tent to hold the different pathways to recovery, as well as the different beliefs about the role advocacy may have in our life of recovery.  Silence has been replaced with a big tent which is certain to grow even bigger in the near future.  

My tale is after we are all in the big tent, when we will find our common voice.  If you have not yet seen the film, please come to one of our Philadelphia showings and bring a loved one.  You will be very glad you came, as you are witnessing history in the making.  You will then have your own tale to tell.  And I respect that.

Michael Harper,  Assistant Director

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