my brief history with CCAR

we're off to see the wizard

“Auntie Em: Help us out today and find yourself a place where you won’t get into any trouble! Dorothy: A place where there isn’t any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It’s not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It’s far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain…

my brief history with recovery support began in 2005 when i took a position to co-facilitate a substance use treatment group. that position surprisingly lasted 1 1/2 years. the group was 6 persons when the therapist and i began and it was well over 20 when i left. i learned first hand how working with others strengthened my sense of recovery and i also learned how impactful relevant support could be to treatment engagement.

i volunteered for a recovery organization here in denver for a couple of years just after i was given an advocacy award by that same outfit (my grandfather’s term). i learned quite a bit, but its mission seemed shortsighted and self-serving. i then implemented a peer support element at a methadone clinic where i was employed. once again, the group attendance and engagement in activities as well as education and discussion of recovery increased exponentially. sadly the management transitioned after the 2nd year of implementation, and the idea that patients could and would recover took a back seat to managing bodies, billing, and behavior became the sole purpose. i felt very much like mary poppins then and realized that my work was done. i grabbed my umbrella and let the wind carry me onward.

that wind blew me to connecticut for a recovery coach training. i had, by that time, become familiar with the concept and perhaps a little adept at working with other. i completed the training and the tot(train the trainer) so that i would be able to train others to see the secrets that the magical organization in connecticut had summoned from our heavens. the training was exemplary. it was like witnessing an all star game. the players were as varied as the types of tulips growing in the countryside of holland. but the work was the same. one person in recovery working with another and asking real questions and sharing real time life lessons and all that truth creating permission for realness to go deeper.

good coach trainings are full of laughter and tears which normalizes the process of change and even encourages it. learning boundaries, reminding each other that “no” is an appropriate answer are just part of the gift left behind. a bigger gift is the renewed understanding that lives and experiences are so different from our and with that difference comes empathy and wonder.

3 years later, i am still frolicking in empathy and wonder. and i’m feeling lucky to have found ccar- it is my own emerald city. the freshest news and the sincerest of stories. i continue to be enthralled with the storytelling ritual whose roots in our culture are justified and ancient.

the historical timeline below is reposted from Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery’s website at


CCAR was founded in 1998 when Bob Savage, a long-time state employee, set out to answer two questions: Where are the people in recovery when policy decisions are made? Can the recovery community be organized? Many years later, thanks in large part to his early vision and dedication, the organized recovery community is at the table (locally and nationally) and our presence is growing. In the early years, CCAR focused solely on advocacy and because of the influence of the recovery community, then evolved into providing recovery support services. Seventeen years later, and its amazing to see how CCAR has come. 1997 CCAR holds Connecticut’s first Recovering Community Organization meeting

1998 Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery officially named

5 founding members spoke at statewide CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) conference, publicly for the first time putting a face on recovery, resulting in initial funding from DMHAS

Mailing list topped 100

Awarded an original CSAT Recovery Community Support Program (RCSP) grant

Awarded funding from DMHAS

1999 60 members attended 1st Legislative Day at State Capitol

1st Board of Directors meeting held

15 members spoke at CSAT Public Hearing in Hartford “Changing the Conversation, A National Plan to Improve Substance Abuse Treatment”

140 attended CCAR Conference” In Celebration of Recovery!”

1st video “Putting a Face on Recovery” released

5 people in recovery selected to serve on DMHAS State Advisory Board, 2 appointed by Governor

Recovery Support Services Concept Paper submitted to CSAT for conference grant

2000 Co-presented with Advocacy Unlimited, a mental health advocacy organization, on the “Recovery Basic Premises and Recovery Core Values” (Note: these values ultimately served as the basis for the DMHAS Recovery-Oriented System of Care)

Hosted 2nd Legislative Day, over 100 people attended

Started “Legacies” support group for parents who had lost children to addiction

Hosted training – Racism of the Well-Intended, Slaying the Dragon

700 attended first annual Recovery Walks! at Bushnell Park in Hartford

“Putting a Face on Recovery” video distributed to 700+

1st edition of The Recovery Herald newsletter published and distributed to 6500+

112 people attended 1st Annual Meeting & Awards Dinner

2001 1st of 7 Chapters established giving CCAR local and regional presence

200+ people attended 3rd Legislative Day, 36 legislators sponsored the event with 3 talking about their own recovery

Non-profit 501(c)3 status granted

10,000+ Recovery Posters distributed nationwide

Website goes live

“Putting a Face on Recovery” video updated; 2000+ distributed nationwide

Awarded CSAT Recovery Community Support Program (RCSP) Track II grant

2000+ participated in 2nd Recovery Walks! held 5 days after terrorist attack of 9/11

2002 16 members testified at Informational Forum at the invitation by CT Legislature Judiciary Committee issues relating to felony conviction and sustained recovery

200+ people attended CCAR’s trauma/recovery forum “Recovery Speaks in the Shadow of 9/11” in New London

Membership topped 2000

3000+ participated in 3rd annual Recovery Walks! in Hartford

2003 200+ attended 2nd trauma/recovery forum in Bridgeport

Code of Ethics established

Shifted successfully from Recovery Community Support Program to Recovery Community Services Program

1st of 42 trainings in the “Recovery Training Series” delivered

New video “Healing Power of Recover” completed

3000+ participated in 4th annual Recovery Walks! in Hartford

Staff invited to “Innovator’s Meeting: Strategic Planning for Peer Recovery Support Services” SAMHSA/CSAT Access to Recovery (ATR) Program

First audit for year ending June 30, 2003 completed and earned a non-qualified opinion

2004 CCAR involved in development of state ATR proposal

200+ people attended Grand Opening of Windham Recovery Community Center

First Family Support Group met in Windham Recovery Community Center

Transition of leadership to new Executive Director

Executive Director Co-chairs state team with DMHAS Commissioner at National Policy Academy on Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders

Formal Volunteer Management System implemented

Awarded CSAT Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP) Track III grant

3000+ participated in 5th annual Recovery Walks! in Hartford

2005 New London Recovery Community Center opened

Recovery Housing Project developed state-of the-art internet database to include 100 independently owned, privately operated recovery houses covering 1069 beds

Recovery Housing Coalition of Connecticut (RHCC) established

RHCC established standards for independently owned, privately operated recovery housing

Recovery Housing Project training “So… You Want to Open a Recovery House” generated 7 new recovery houses totaling 70 new recovery beds

Prison Support Groups established in Enfield and Bridgeport

Comprehensive Volunteer Management System implemented

An article on Recovery Walks! appeared on the cover of the inaugural edition of Rising Recovery in Action, Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR)’s national magazine

Recovery Walks! model replicated in several other states

Recovery Walks! drew 2000+, Honor Guard established for first time

Executive Director served on CSAT Summit Planning Committee

Established Recovery Capital Tool and Recovery Friendly Tool for evaluation purposes

Hosts recognition dinner in honor of CCAR founder, Bob Savage

The WRCC attracted 10,000 visitors

More than 350 individuals attended Recovery Training Series

CCAR represented at historic Faces and Voices of Recovery summit in Washington, DC

Executive Director presented at CSAT Summit

Begin series of Oldtimer (20+ years of recovery) Retreats and Focus Groups

The 50th ‘Hooked on Recovery’ article penned

2006 – Annual_Report_2006 Core Elements of a Recovery Community Center written

Volunteer Coordinator hired

Telephone Recovery Support became CCAR’s first “fee-for-service”

Article published on Telephone Recovery Support in Addiction Professional magazine

New London Recovery Community Center held successful comedy night/pasta dinner event

Senior Peer Services Coordinator Diane Potvin received the Dr. Edward Brown Humanitarian Award for her work in support of recovery in Willimantic.

Executive Director traveled to AZ to serve as consultant to a sister Recovery Community Organization

Hosts 1st Annual Volunteer Recognition dinner with comedian Mark Lundholm, 144 registered CCAR volunteers invited, Keith Sawyer earns Presidential Award with over 1200 hours

Legacy of Hope: Recovery Elders Video Project launched

CCAR staff ran workshops, served on panels and introduced speakers in statewide DMHAS Recovery Conference: Vision to Outcomes

Bridgeport Recovery Community Center opened (#3)

Purchased a 3-story Victorian on 198 Wethersfield Avenue in Hartford to house the Hartford Recovery Community Center and the administrative offices

Individual Giving campaign launched

Recovery Walks! held for the 7th consecutive year, a lead event for Rally for Recovery, banner for 46 other events held nationally on same day

Executive Director Phillip Valentine received America Honors Recovery award from The Johnson Institute at the National Press Club, Washington DC

Executive Director presented on CCAR, recovery support services and promotes the RCSP at congressional briefing in Washington, DC

WRCC attracted more than 15,000 visitors

Hartford Recovery Community Center opened (#4)

Technology grant received from Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

2007 Annual_Report_2007 Hosted HBO “Addiction” premier at St. Francis Hospital Chawla Auditorium for 125 persons

Hosted 2nd Annual Volunteer Recognition dinner with comedian Mark Lundholm, more than 200 registered CCAR volunteers invited, 17 Presidential Awards given

The CCAR experience highlighted in interviews published on Faces &Voices of Recovery website, Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center (GLATTC) website, Recovery Solutions magazine

Hartford Recovery Community Center launched with Grand Opening for more than 200 people

CCAR leased space to Columbus House “Road to Recovery” program on 3rd floor of the HRCC

New author Richard Anthony (his pen name) began new recovery column that goes out on CCAR website and list serve, “Reflections of a 10th Leper”

Senior Peer Services Coordinator Diane Potvin celebrated 20 years of recovery

Legislative breakfasts held in each of the Recovery Community Centers

NLRCC held 2nd successful Comedy Night

CCAR presents at CCB conference on co-occurring disorders

Executive Director presents at NASADAD (National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors) on the CCAR experience in Burlington, VT

Senior Peer Services Coordinator Michael Askew retires and moves to North Carolina

Executive Director is lead author on a paper titled,” The Recovery Community Organization: Toward A Working Definition and Description” with Bill White and Pat Taylor