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Category Archives: Volunteer

The Transformative Power and Impact of Volunteering at PRO-ACT: Marie’s Story

MarieVolunteering saves and transforms lives. Those of us in recovery who actively decide to give back are more than survivors: we are champions of our own recovery and we are given extraordinary opportunities to champion the cause of those battling addiction.

Volunteers in recovery understand that their service is essential to sustaining their own recovery and in providing support, hope, and education to communities in the throes of a drug crisis and opiate epidemic.

 “Every day is a new beginning to make a difference in someone’s life,” observes longtime Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center/PRO-ACT volunteer Marie Widmeier. She began her volunteering journey back in 2012 when she experienced that moment of clarity, “I knew what I needed to do-to get back to a way of living that my mother showed me.”

True to her word, Marie invests her boundless energy and dedication in every one of her volunteer experiences. For the past three years she has chaired the ornament committee for The Council’s Tree of Hope ceremony held every December. Taking on this leadership role has helped heal Marie as she recovers from losing her parents and beloved sponsor to tragic circumstances. Marie reflects on how much the people at PRO-ACT mean to her: “for me, it’s a lasting recovering family.”

Once shrouded in guilt and despair, Marie, whose first name means “star of the sea” has flourished because of her direct involvement in Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center’s programs. She facilitates a weekly recovery discussion group every Wednesday afternoon, and organizes fundraising events such as Karaoke and a pancake breakfast held at Applebee’s. Marie understands that her altruism also inspires our recovery community. She is bold about sharing how much PRO-ACT has done for her: “there is deeper meaning in life when we serve the needs of others.” Whether Marie is chairing a meeting at her favorite clubhouse or delivering a speech at her community college, Marie’s devotion is evident. Marie lives by example.

Gaining confidence and leadership skills through her active and vigorous volunteering, Marie is ready to graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and Management. As a single mom of a 19 year-old son, Marie encouraged her son to graduate early and pursue a college degree. Currently Marie and her son take classes at Bucks County Community College. They are clearly a dynamic duo whose drive and motivation sets the standard for others.

Marie has seized the day with her multiple involvement in committees at her college. She is the Recording Secretary for Kappa Beta Delta, a business honor society. Marie also serves as the Lower Bucks Campus Coordinator for Students Advocating Student Success. A fierce and proud student, Marie obviously loves to learn; she thrives in an educational environment where she will definitely graduate with top honors.

Marie’s philosophy in life is simple, “the advice I would give to a new volunteer is to wake up and commit to one thing that will make a difference.”

There are many of us who have had the honor of witnessing the transformation in Marie. Marie expresses her gratitude in these words:” I have learned to stay out of myself that was sad and depressed; instead, I am learning to connect with the joy inside of me-those little pieces call me on a daily basis.”

Karen M. Burke
Volunteer Coordinator
Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center/PRO-ACT

Martin Luther King Day of Service and PRO-ACT

MLK dayWe are excited to announce PRO-ACT and The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania’s Fourth Annual participation in the city-wide “MLK Day of Service” being held at the Philadelphia Recovery Community Center (PRCC), 1701 W. Lehigh Ave. Philadelphia PA 19132, on Monday, January 19th 2015 from 9 am-1 pm. Come and join over 150 volunteers impacting our community as we clean up the neighborhood and celebrate the memory of Dr. King. MLK Day of service was created to promote year-round volunteerism and civic engagement.

PRO-ACT’s Amends in Action committee has organized this event since 2011, partnering with numerous community agencies including: Ready, Willing & Able, MLK365, Net, MinSec, DBH, Global Citizen, and Philadelphia Streets Dept. This committee is always ready to lend a helping hand in the community to help reduce the sigma of addiction and put a positive face and voice on recovery. Participation in the MLK Day of Service is one of the many ways PRO-ACT volunteers positively impact the community in which the disease of addiction has impacted so greatly.

Each year, participation in this event grows tremendously. In 2011, 85 volunteers from various organizations and the community collected 80 bags of garbage within a 10 block radius from Broad and Lehigh Ave. to 22nd and Lehigh Ave. In 2014, 126 volunteers collected 208 bags. This year we are hoping to make an even greater impact with more volunteers and more garbage bags filled! 

In addition to cleaning up the neighborhood, participants enjoy light breakfast refreshments, hot beverages, and a warm lunch. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr had a vision of people of diverse backgrounds interacting on a personal level by encouraging them to share and discuss issues that affect their communities in order to increase racial and cultural understanding and unity. Additional activities such as watching the inauguration ceremony of President Barak Obama, black history trivia games, and reflection of the legacy of Dr. King and the civil rights movement have been included to ensure an enjoyable volunteer experience and to promote unity.

So bring your children, neighbors, co-workers and join PRO-ACT on Monday, January 19th, 2015 and be a part of this nationwide experience. For more information on how you and your organization can get involved contact She-Ria Bethea at 215-223-7700 or John Carlson at 215-923-1661.

MLK Day of Services shows the strength and power of the people to build up a community together and fulfills Dr. King’s vision for a better America.

She-Ria Bethea
Assistant Volunteer Coordinator

Volunteering and Leadership Development


Volunteering provides the forum to work outside your comfort zone, yielding an opportunity to work with new challenges, people, public policies, and behavioral change. Volunteering sets into action new priorities for people who need direction. Volunteering also offers opportunities for people in recovery, family members, and friends in the community to be the authentic voice for change. Learning new skills, responsibilities, and community service all contribute to Leadership development.

PRO-ACT Ambassadors for Recovery is built on strong leadership principles through the help of skilled volunteers.  Developing leadership skills in our volunteers is one of the main goals. PRO-ACT achieves leadership development through many vehicles.  Let’s talk about five strong platforms, which include the recovery plan, Group Leader and Facilitator, 15 minute interview, Recovery Mentoring, and the Philadelphia Peer Leadership Academy (PPLA).

The critical path of a new volunteer starts with a 15-minute interview involving the Volunteer Coordinator. This meeting establishes goals and a training path that you, as a new volunteer, can follow and achieve. In the interview we take note of what your strengths and interests are and learn what you like to do. We match your skills and interests to the roles that fit you best. A portion of the meeting is spent on developing a shared vision and mission, which offers hope for the organization and its volunteers. Going forward the volunteer develops their own mission directed in the leadership development path.

The recovery plan helps you achieve your personal vision and mission through establishing goals focusing on your strengths, skills, and actions. The purpose is to strengthen the recovery path of each volunteer, providing self-discipline to achieve their goals. The next path concerning leadership development is Group Leadership and Facilitation. This certified training allows you to get facilitation skills and a foundation to become a group leader. This certificate creates a solid foundation in leadership skills that help prepare you for the future.

The process of leadership development starts with assessing skills, strengths, interests and opportunities for improvement. The Recovery Mentoring Training starts with the assessment process and cataloging these assessment findings mixed with background and interests that aid in Peer recovery support services. Recovery Mentoring is a new approach in assisting an individual in his or her pursuit of a recovery lifestyle. Recovery Mentors function on a peer- to- peer basis with the mentor reviewing the meaning of the pathways to recovery and their importance.  Applying Mentoring skills in the field help to shape and mold the volunteer into a practiced leader.

 One of PRO-ACT’s actions relating to the mission is Zip-Code Advocacy. Once an organization has identified a project such as Zip-Code Advocacy, engaging volunteers to lead these programs is a crucial part in developing leadership skills while positively changing the community through on the job training. Developed leadership skills create authenticity of voice through building true character promoting change in the community. PRO-ACT develops leaders to offer opportunities to make their voices heard while providing community service. The Philadelphia Peer Leadership Academy training structure encompasses these leadership tools. PPLA is designed to develop leadership skills that propel the individual, while supporting the foundation of leaders developing leaders providing services for the interest of the community.

Volunteer Quote on Leadership:

“I am honored to know how to transition the Leadership Principles to the role of zip-code advocacy to the community and increase my strength in that role. I now understand what leadership is and how to present myself as one. I am now a new leader for the world thanks to PRO-ACT!” – PPLA graduate and PRO-ACT Volunteer

To get involved, contact one of our Volunteer Coordinators:
Central Bucks:  Email or call Rick at 215-345-6644
Southern Bucks:  Email or call Karen at 215-788-3738 x100
Philadelphia: Email or call She-Ria at 215-233-7700 or Email John or call 215-923-1661 
Chester, Delaware and Montco: Email or call John at 215-923-1661
PRO-ACT Recovery Walks! Committees: Email  or call John at 215-923-1661

John K Carlson
Volunteer Coordinator
Philadelphia Recovery Training Center

A Note of Thanks

The following is a letter from a service recipient to the staff and volunteers at The Council’s Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center. Thank_you_small


August, 8 2014
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania
Bristol PA Office

Dear Sir/Madam,

Just a note of thanks.  I started using the services here (Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center) over a year ago.  When I got sober again I quite literally only had the clothes on my back, little to no prospects and very little hope I could ever get back on my feet.  Through AA, some friends that were sober and the staff and services here, I find myself in a position that I really doubted I could get back to.  While by no means am I where I was before things got bad with my addiction, if you would have told me I’d be as far along as I am I would have taken the deal and thought I was stealing from you. 

The services offered at The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania and the staff and volunteers were a godsend.  Their dedication to helping people recover and always positive approach was more help than I typically admit to.  Karen, Miguel and Annika in particular were hugely helpful and always encouraging along with the volunteers at the Bristol location.  I was so taken by the satff and volunteers dedication that I even volunteered and found the experience very rewarding and hopefully I’ve helped someone in some small way to get back on their feet or get another day clean and sober.

Again, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the staff and volunteers here.  I’m starting a position that will not allow me to spend much time here to volunteer but, again, that is kind of the point of what you do here.  Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.  I don’t doubt for a moment that the only reason I have been given the opportunity that I have is because of the staff, volunteers and the services offered here.

Best regards,
Anonymous service recipient

My Journey Back to Newark NJ: Only To Find Out Philadelphia Was And Is My New Home

I have family in Newark NJ, where I was raised. I came to Philadelphia seven years ago when I first entered recovery. I lived in a recovery house and eventually rented a room in a home. I lived there until November of 2013 when I decided to go back to Newark and “help” my nieces and nephews, be the uncle I should be, not the uncle I was in my active addiction. I thought I could share my experiences with them.

I found myself doing the same things I did when I was actively using;  isolating myself and not taking care of myself, only this time, I was doing it in recovery. I felt like I had no “me” time. I felt trapped and I didn’t realize it until I got a call saying an efficiency apartment was available in Philadelphia in the same building a friend that has been there for me through my recovery process lived. I was so excited. I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough. I came back in the beginning of May to stay with a friend and just moved into my apartment this past June 6th.

Being a volunteer for The Philadelphia Recovery Community Center has taught me how to deal with my problems, talk about my problems, not hold everything inside and I learned how to ask for and accept help. That it is not a weakness to ask for help but strength to ask for help and to know when you need help.

I do miss my family but I have to let them grow, and I have to think what is best for me and my recovery process. So, I am grateful today for all of my friends through my 12-step mutual support group and most especially the PRCC staff and volunteers.  I am grateful to be a volunteer at the PRCC because it gives me an opportunity to give back to my adopted community. I have learned to really meet people where they are at, to listen to others when they are struggling with a situation.  I have even learned how to facilitate groups and discovered some recovery discussion groups I like to run.

Life couldn’t be better; just for today!

Greg High
PRCC/PRO-ACT Volunteer

A New Normal, and a New Me

Throughout my childhood, I was faced with many traumatic challenges with family and friends including murder, addiction, mental health challenges, gambling, domestic violence and various forms of abuse. I lost hope and assumed that this lifestyle was the norm. I felt alone and isolated.

Then I saw an internet advertisement for “Recovery Coaches at PRO-ACT” in Philadelphia.  I thought that maybe with some training and support, I could use my life experiences as a warning to help others. So I signed-up to learn about recovery coaching. 

I completed the training and became a volunteer for PRO-ACT.  I learned that recovery is possible, and that I was not alone in how I feel. I met other individuals, staff members and volunteers who empathized with me and provided me with resources and guidance.  I learned how to utilize my experiences to empower others.  I practiced my skills by assisting PRO-ACT in their service projects such as MLK Day of Service, Annual Holiday Dinner, Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet and the Recovery Walks! Planning Committee.

Through the help of PRO-ACT, I now work for the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania as a Recovery Coach.  I assist those with severe mental health challenges to identify and develop recovery-oriented goals and use their supports to increase their success in community integration and inclusion. I am also a training instructor and facilitator, as well as a website designer for several recovery organizations.  I am the founder and owner of a website and graphic design company. 

I am also resilient and very thankful for all those who helped me along the way.  I never dreamed that an advertisement for Recovery Coaches would lead to all this, but I am glad it did.      

Stacie Leap, CPS, FPS

Hello, I’m an Addict named Cindy

I always felt as though I never fit in or was truly loved.   I ran away at the age of 14 and continued running until the age of 48, always trying to escape myself. My life became a long, lonely road of self-destruction. I have seen and survived many years of self-inflicted drug and alcohol abuse, all of which brought about abusive relationships, lies, theft, prostitution, a brutal rape, jail cells and psychiatric wards.  My childhood dream of becoming a nurse disappeared. 

On January 14, 2014, I ended up in yet another psychiatric facility. Broken, desperate, and suicidal, I still felt blessed for a moment of clarity:  acceptance set in that I was the problem.  I was graced with the willingness to change. 

I became receptive to treatment for addiction and open to suggestions to live differently.  I entered a treatment facility and stayed there for nearly a month. The process of working on me had officially begun.

Through that process, I was introduced to the recovery community in Bucks County.  It was suggested that I get involved. Soon after, I registered as a participant with the Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center and PRO-ACT. 

The Recovery Community Center and PRO-ACT welcomed me into a safe and supportive environment.  In February of 2014 they took a chance on me, and I became a volunteer.  My passion for helping others once again returned.  I volunteer nearly every day now.  You can find me facilitating a Stress Management group or providing administrative support.  The Center has become a life line for me. 

 At 4 ½ months clean and sober,  I no longer feel isolated or like a social idiot. I have a grateful heart today and believe in myself once again. I am able to look forward to each new day because I start with the intention of how I may be of assistance to the next individual in recovery. 

I want to thank the Recovery Center staff, PRO-ACT volunteers and the wonderful service participants for helping me along the way.  I never imagined that I would be recognized for my efforts. For the month of June, SBRCC/PRO-ACT honored me with the distinction of being their “Volunteer of the Month.” 

I have been blessed with the opportunity to live a productive and meaningful way of life today.

PRO-ACT Volunteer
June 2014 Volunteer of the Month

Spiritual Reflections: Positivity and Gratitude

gratitudeIt was very simple to have a great day, that is, once I learned that I alone controlled it.

It all came down to perception.  If I stepped out of bed, it was then my choice to have a lousy day or a wonderfully marvelous day.  What was your choice today?

I search out the positive perspective, positive energy and positive people who are about a quality way of living.  Negativity for me is like the plague and has to be avoided at all costs.  Negativity steals my life energy and can send anyone into a head of doom and gloom and self-pity.

I begin thinking, feeling and behaving positive and positive things happen!  So be grateful and spread positive energy today!

By Janie M.
PRO-ACT Volunteer

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.

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