After My Addiction, I Found Purpose In Recovery Helping Women Inmates Re-Enter Society With Opportunity

Though often asked, I cannot define the moment my desire for sobriety trumped that of the reckless path I had travelled the two decades prior. There was no crisis, tragedy, health fright, family incident, or legal issue. The day was just the day. I simply made a choice and a promise to me, for me.

A Texas native, following graduation from Richardson High School, I hooked ‘em straight to the University of Texas, Austin. Exiting Longhorn country with a sheepskin in Education, the next 15 years were spent teaching, leading, and molding the lives of young people. It became not only my vocation, but largely my only identity. Seeking a career change, I entered the residential real estate arena. Working independently, and with very little accountability, the seeds of my unhealthy habits took even deeper root until ‘the day’ my promise to myself became my fulltime occupation.

At 39, a brief in-patient treatment program left me with a better understanding of my disease, but few tools to make any permanent transformation. Relapse, even multiples, is more common than not in the newly-sober, and I did my part to keep those statistics in play. Yet—by the Grace of God—August 25, 2007, I made the bold choice to this time, GET IT & KEEP IT. Less than a year later, bold choice number two … met with trepidation by my care team and family due to my sober-newbie status. The teacher became the student as I returned to college in a quest to become a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC).

Following a 2+ year internship toward full-fledged LCDC licensure, I opted to become an employee for the provider with whom I’d served as intern. During my employ, I was required to attend and present, on behalf of our clients, within the Collin County Drug Court Program … an assignment that would change the course of my practice.

Understand, before that experience, my intention was to counsel ‘good addicts’ like myself; nice people who desired sobriety, but surely free of any pesky legal or other complicating issues often associated with ‘bad addicts’. My plan, a simple 9-to-5 weekday practice, nestled in a cozy office near home, shopping & good restaurants. God, however, diverted my plan for His, moving my feet down a different avenue altogether.

Desirous of offering a more whole-life-encompassing treatment—reaching further toward counseling, supporting and improving the lives of Collin County residents actively pursuing a life free from addiction—and seeking the flexibility to do so, led to another bold choice … GRACEtoCHANGE. Within our outpatient treatment facility in McKinney, Texas, we provide sobriety-targeted individual, family, and group counseling. Through GRACEtoCHANGE, expanding my work within the Collin county judicial system, I began teaching Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) to women inmates. During the process of getting to know them and following their progress, time and again I witnessed the same post-release-reality. She leaves with nothing in her pocket but a felony conviction. No money. No employment prospects. No options for safe housing. No treatment. No counseling. Little to no hope or chance for long-term success on the other side of incarceration. Thus, she returns to her former life; full of the same people, places and things that muddied her path originally. Hence, another bold choice, GRACEtoGROW, a non-profit corporation established to support the underserved community of those desiring recovery, yet limited in their options to meet the basic needs of daily life.

GRACEtoGROW lends a hand-up, providing therapeutic, group support, and other assistance necessary for successful, productive reintegration into our community. GTG/GTC offers scholarships for treatment, counseling, personal and financial assistance for qualified recipients to help underwrite our clients’ healthy new lifestyle. As it is most assuredly utilized and appreciated, the great tragedy remained with the inability to secure safe, affordable housing. In this region, as most others, a person with a felony conviction will most likely be denied the option of leasing an apartment. Should she also have a charge of violence, or an open Child Protective Services case, our only county homeless shelter is also off-limits.

Again, with the bold choice … TINY HOUSE BIG RECOVERY. THBR is a master-planned, sober-living tiny house development soon under construction in our county. With a 23-acre land parcel donated by a local family, a site planning professional, and a host of other generous, like-spirited benefactors and volunteers, Tiny House Big Recovery will be the first community of its kind in the area.

THBR is a three-phase, (Phase I/Quad; Phase II/Double; Phase III/Single), progressive program for women as they are released from county incarceration. In addition to conforming & contributing successfully to the community, meticulously vetted residents will be required to remain clean & sober, continue treatment, procure employment, while supporting and mentoring fellow residents.

Grace Changes Everything. We believe if You Change a Life, You Change your Community!