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Best Graduation Party Ever!

           By Linda Leathers, TND CEO

High school graduations are always a time for special recognition and celebrations, and typically a “what comes next” question is attached. TND recently had the honor to share in a momentous event with Phyllis, a six-year Freedom Recovery Community (FRC) resident and her son Christian. As Phyllis stood before the crowd gathered to celebrate Christian’s graduation, she said, “FRC is a community of women who stuck with me and Christian. It wasn’t easy. At times I wanted to give up. At times, Christian wanted to give up. The community may have wanted to give up, BUT NEVER AT THE SAME TIME. Thank you for sticking and staying with my baby.”

Almost six years ago when Phyllis and Christian arrived, only a very few people believed that this Pearl Cohn graduation celebration would take place. Christian was not happy to live at the FRC. He described his emotions as angry and hurt. He shared that he was depressed the whole first year. He missed his life in Georgia. Times were difficult.

However, no one was giving up on Christian or Phyllis and they had a host of caring people pouring into them. Things began to change when Christian joined the Pearl Cohn football team.  At home, he and his mom began to get into a rhythm. I remember those early years when Vanderbilt football players and Freedom Recovery Community summer interns Johnny McCrary, Torrey Agree and Tre Herndon took a special interest in Christian and mentored him. Those friendships continue to this day. Over time, FRC became an oasis for Christian to call home. He had the unwavering love of a mom and 20 other women cheering him on. He had staff, volunteers, teachers and coaches all invested in his future.

Christian, a tall, handsome, linebacker-looking young man, stood before the group and said, pointing to his mom, “I love this woman and want to thank her for all she has done for me. Through this community I have learned to respect women. I am thankful for this place.” About that time, one of the FRC children came running over and jumped into his arms. Christian embraced the child and lovingly held him up in the air. Another child came running awaiting the same treatment. It was an incredibly special moment.

I am so proud of Christian, Phyllis and The Next Door for being a part of God’s story of a FUTURE and a HOPE. Christian is a loving, caring, kind and wonderful mentor to the other children at FRC. He is joining the Navy as the next step in his future. Christian, Thank You in advance for your service to our nation.

On behalf of The Next Door Board and Staff:  Well done for your accomplishment as the Freedom Recovery Community’s first high school graduate! We cannot wait to see how the Lord will guide your steps in the future. 

 

                                                              Proud Mom and Graduate!

                                Current and Former TND Staff celebrate with Phyllis and Christian

The Next Door’s Homecoming 2018: Hands up for Recovery!

by Ashleigh Rakestraw, Clinical Services Program Manager of The Next Door

On September 19th The Next Door excitedly hosted the first ever TND homecoming event. Staff and alumni from all over middle Tennessee came to celebrate recovery, celebrate each other and celebrate the place that so many of them call “home”. It was an absolute joy to see so many familiar faces!

When I looked around the room at the courageous, empowering women surrounding me I couldn’t help but feel inspired. I saw that women, who at one time believed that they were broken and that they had lost everything, were now mothers, daughters, entrepreneurs, business leaders, lobbyists, homeowners and advocates for recovery.  I looked around and realized that I was surrounded by overcomers. Overcomers who refused to give up, refused to give in and are now refusing to let the disease take even one more life. I watched as woman after woman celebrated their sobriety birthdays by writing their number of years, months or days clean on their hands and calling out their length of sobriety. Cheers soared for the woman who was celebrating 13 years clean, 12 years clean, 10 years clean and so on. I waited to see if the cheers would slow down as sobriety dates ranging from a few months to a few weeks were called out, but it seemed that just the opposite happened. The less sobriety time a woman had, the more the crowd cheered for her. Finally, at the end, staff asked if there was anyone with one day clean at the event. I saw one shy woman, a current client of The Next Door, with tears in her eyes, slowly raise her hand. The next events that took place filled my eyes with tears. The crowd at the event went wild. Cheers filled the room for this individual who had chosen sobriety that day. The women who had 13, 12 and 10 years clean surrounded this client with hugs, high fives and support. I heard the crowd erupt with phrases like, “That’s amazing!” “How inspiring!” “You’ve got this!” “Keep coming back- it’s worth it!” A smile spread across the face of the woman with one day clean as she realized she was not alone- that at one point, every woman in that room had just one day clean. They surrounded her because they knew that every day is a battle with the disease of addiction; and that choosing sobriety- even for one day- is something to be immensely celebrated.

Working in this field, in the middle of the worst opioid epidemic our country has ever seen, you truly begin to see how addiction is just as it’s described in the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book-  “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” But looking around the room that night I saw immense hope. I realized that with women like the ones in that room, who are leading the charge on the battle against addiction and spreading the message of hope in recovery, we could in fact see a world where not even one more life is taken by this horrible disease. I am proud to share space with such powerful, courageous and bold women who share their journey with The Next Door; and I am humbled that these women call The Next Door “home.” The Next Door is ready to, alongside these women, continue fighting the disease of addiction! What a powerful time to be alive!