Having Fun in Recovery!

“Open different doors. You may find a you that you never knew was yours” – Mary Poppins

“What am I going to do for fun now that I am sober?” This is a common question we get from residents when they enter MSH. When folks are early in recovery it can be difficult to even imagine having fun without drugs or alcohol and unfortunately boredom can lead straight back to addiction for many folks. At MSH we recognize the importance of introducing our residents to new activities to support their recovery. Thus, we implemented a weekly “Fun in Recovery” group to help our residents engage in a diverse set of activities to promote stress relief, build friendships, and increase self-esteem through trying new hobbies and activities! Some of our activities have included playing Spike Ball, bowling, geo-caching, putt-putt golfing, t-shirt making, hiking, camping, canoeing, watching a movie as a community, crocheting and safely lounging at the pool. This week our residents will experiment with resin art thanks to a generous donor who purchased kits off our Amazon Wish List!

Having fun is an important component for everyone. It can reduce stress and promote an increased sense of community in group functions. Even right now where coming together may be at a physical distance, our need as humans for meaningful connections must be met. For folks in recovery, this should be emphasized even more. At MSH, we are helping the residents say “YES” to things they may never have tried before and are watching their experiences turn into a greater hobby or interest. It is imperative for individuals in recovery to find new ways to have fun, and to not think of themselves or their friends as “boring” without drugs. Truly, the world can be a little brighter than they might previously ever imagined without drugs or drinking. And our goal is to help them continue to find ways to light up their world and protect their hard-earned sobriety.

We want to continue to provide these fun opportunities for recovery and healing at MSH, but need your help! We are trying to build a small “Fun in Recovery” fund to support these weekly activities with our residents. Want to make a contribution? Click on the “Donate Button” and on your donation form put “Fun in Recovery” in the Tribute Name. This will help us allocate your gift directly toward helping our residents identify new hobbies to support their recovery journey! We could not do this work without your generous support and are grateful for any amount you can give to help our residents discover their interests, hobbies, and passions.

Staff Spotlight

Hi! I’m Ashley Wardlaw. I am the Assistant Director at MSH, a new wife to my husband Nick and a pet mom to our dog and cat, Anya and Kittie Mama. I have a Master’s in Social work and have been working with the organization since it first opened in 2017. I became involved with MSH through our Executive Director, April, who in the Spring of 2017 was my instructor for Macro Practice in Social Work at the U of A. April spoke frequently about MSH in relation to our course work. I was highly interested in the mission and taken aback one day when April asked if I would be interested in pursuing an internship with MSH. I was all in and honored to be asked to help. I finished my internship at MSH that fall, graduated with my Bachelor’s in Social Work and was hired on at Magdalene as the Assistant Program Director. That summer I was accepted into the Advance Standing Master’s Program at the U of A and returned to MSH for a 9-month placement as an MSW intern that fall. After graduating with my master’s in 2019, I accepted a position at MSH as the Development Coordinator.

A year has passed, and my duties are expanding to reflect my new role as the Assistant Director. I have the opportunity to work directly with our residents, develop and adapt programming with our team, and perform an assortment of fundraising and development duties as well. What I love most about MSH and my job is feeling like I am actually a part of huge social change that will have a lasting impact on our communities and children. This work is not only meaningful, but it is necessary. When I’m not at MSH, I love to be outside and ideally someplace sunny and with water. I enjoy singing, dancing, hula-hooping and being an aunt to my 5 nieces and nephews. I love live music and am tentatively growing in my level of excitement for the summer Walmart Amp season in 2021. I hope to see you all there!

-Ashley Wardlaw, Assistant Director

Resident Achievements

  • Our residents continue to impress us with their strength and resilience during this challenging time. We remain a full house and are grateful that we have been able to continue to help our residents grow in their recovery and healing.
  • Two of our residents moved into Phase Three of our program. This is the last phase prior to graduation and focuses on preparing for graduation and reintegration into the community.
  • One of our residents moved into Phase Two of our program. In this phase residents begin looking for employment and/or pursuing additional education or training.
  • One of our residents celebrated ONE YEAR clean and sober!
  • One of our residents celebrated NINE MONTHS clean and sober!
  • One of our residents celebrated FOUR MONTHS clean and sober!
  • One of our residents is preparing to graduate MSH and reunite with her 11-year old son. We are looking for safe, second-chance housing in Prairie Grove for this resident. Please email april@lovehealsnwa.org with any leads!

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Resident Success Stories

“I’ve made it to 10 months of sobriety. This is the longest I’ve been clean in 17 years. I’m about to graduate here and my son will be living with me and he hasn’t lived with me in close to 5 years. I’ve held down a job since February. This place has helped me have the life I’ve always wanted but never had because I was so lost in my addiction. I am truly grateful to be a part of Magdalene Serenity House. Love you all.”

“The Magdalene House has helped me achieve getting my license back this month and help me achieve 1 year clean and sober as of July 27, 2020. I couldn’t of achieved these things without the help from staff and women at the house. I love this place.”

Community Building Group

The concept of service work is an important element to consider as we recover and heal from addictions and past traumas. It helps to create an attitude of gratitude and feeling of purpose.This community has done so much for us here at Magdalene House and we want to pay it forward.This is why we have incorporated a “Community Building Group” into our weekly programming. We have been exploring ways to get out in the city, while still taking safety precautions.The last few weeks the residents have enjoyed volunteering to distribute food boxes for Saint James Baptist Church. Volunteers at the church assemble food donations into nearly 200 boxes then load them up for distribution.The residents at Magdalene House have taken on a route that provides multiple meals for 25 families within our community. We have thoroughly enjoyed this group so far and look forward to pursuing other opportunities to get involved and develop relationships with people and organizations that so freely give and serve. Let us know how we can further serve the community by email sophia@lovehealsnwa.org. We are always on the lookout for ways to give back!

-Sophia Dugwyler, Resident Support Specialist

We Miss Our Volunteers!

Many of our volunteers have reached out over the last several months to offer support, words of encouragement, and let us know they miss being a part of our community. The absence is felt by all here at MSH and we miss the energy and newness volunteers bring into the home. During a conversation with a resident she expressed the positive impact one of our volunteers has on her life:

“Joan helps me to slow down, relax, and enjoy life. She has helped me realize no matter what, everything is going to be ok.” -MSH Resident

We look forward to welcoming volunteers back to MSH when it is safe. Until then, please know you all are greatly missed and we cannot wait to see you again!

-Liz Sims, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator

Become a Trail Angel

This month another resident will begin her healing and recovery journey here at MSH. During the first 90 days of the program she will be working on maintaining a sober lifestyle, honing life skills and healing from trauma. Monthly Trail Angel donations of $100 will assist with programming supplies for her and our other residents in phase one. Workbooks, art supplies, and teaching materials are purchased to support life skills and therapeutic groups. Could you be a Trail Angel for someone today? Need help setting up a monthly donation? Contact ashley@lovehealsnwa.org.