I want to start by apologizing for not being able to attend the Gratitude for Giving breakfast in person. This is probably the first year since Sierra Tucson began this wonderful event I have been out of town and not able to attend. This event is a highlight of the year for many of us in the field here in Arizona, as we get to come together to share and celebrate the warriors battling daily to bring hope and recovery to those we serve.
Thanks to Bill Anderson and Lisa Jane Vargas and to Sierra Tucson for this wonderful event and the recognition. I was truly humbled to learn of the recognition. For those of you I don’t know, working in the behavioral health industry is all I have ever known. I got my first job working in school diversion programs and with court mandated adolescents when I was 19 years old. I had one year sober and little did my first boss know I was still one of those lost adolescents trying to recover from an addiction that had nearly killed me by the time I was 18.
I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams to work at many of the great organizations and agencies represented here today and to work with a wide range of populations at various levels of care. The last five years at The Meadows has truly been a remarkable experience and I am honored and humbled daily to work alongside the heroes who call The Meadows their home.
Learning that I was being recognized for the compassion award really struck me, because since I was a child, others have told me that I tend to care too much about other people’s problems and try to fix them. I later learned from The Meadows Senior Fellow Pia Mellody that a large part of this could due to my own codependency. ☺ However, beyond all of our codependent tendencies, I believe that at the heart of all the healers in this room is a deep compassion and capacity to hold space for the suffering and painful circumstances of others. I believe this is what drives us to be in the helping professions. Without a heart of compassion we would not be able to endure the heartache and tragedy we encounter fighting this disease.
A new and particularly humbling endeavor I have been fortunate to be a part of this year is The Meadows Haiti program. We have been blessed to be able to partner with some inspiring mental health advocates in Port Au Prince, Haiti. In June, a team of unbelievably talented and gifted healers from The Meadows and I spent the week in Haiti conducting a training to a room full of 300 professionals and paraprofessionals in one of the poorest and most traumatized countries on the planet. As a country, Haiti is just now starting their treatment, advocacy, policy and prevention efforts for addiction and mental health issues. We will continue to provide this service and training every year and share the message of hope and recovery.
I am extremely thankful and humbled to receive this recognition. I daily thank God for the gift of recovery, my amazing and beautiful wife, my four children and to for the privilege and honor to work alongside heroes like you all and have the sacred role of providing hope to the hopeless through this profession. Thank you!