Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday, where I begin my week writing about a piece of gratitude to begin things on a positive note, which for today is for a place I volunteer at weekly that’s called Rescue Crisis.

Several years ago, when I first came to Toledo, I quickly decided to get active in the AA service community here by joining the Hospital Committee, where I ventured out weekly to various hospitals, halfway houses, detox centers, and the like, with the main purpose of coordinating AA meetings, usually for those in crisis or just starting their path to recovery from addiction.

One of my earliest commitments with the Hospital Committee was at a place called Rescue Crisis, which is where people who are dealing with addiction issues and mental imbalances come for up to two weeks for treatment and help. As part of their weekly program, a recovery meeting is held at Rescue Crisis every Wednesday night at 6pm in the conference room on the first floor.

When I initially took this commitment, I soon learned that I’d often be doing more sharing than the clients would, as most of them aren’t normally in a place to open up and talk about what they’re going through. In other words, it was up to me to share my AA story in a way that would provide them experience, strength, and hope. As time went on, I found my groove and continued to be a mainstay at Rescue Crisis week in and week out, developing my first piece of gratitude along the way, that being for Jewel, who is the staff member that has always brought the clients to the meetings I help coordinate.

Jewel has always consistency supported my efforts to help others there, has frequently uplifted me when I’ve been down, even given me special treats during the holidays, and unconditionally loved and accepted me for who I am. On some level, she’s a big reason why I never ended my commitment at Rescue Crisis and kept coming back, even when I was supposed to roll off onto another commitment for the Hospital Committee.

You see, as part of the rules of being on the AA Hospital Committee, one is supposed to step down after two years of service with them. After that time frame came and went, I met with the main coordinator of the Rescue Crisis program and let them know the situation, given how much of a good repour and relationship I had established there. I offered to volunteer directly to them and make myself available on a weekly basis because of how much I enjoyed supporting their clients. Shortly thereafter, they decided to part ways with the Hospital Committee and opted to have me be the sole coordinator from the AA community, which I was immensely grateful for.

In the past year, my biggest reward and piece of gratitude from volunteering at Rescue Crisis came when I was asked by a University of Toledo nursing instructor if I’d be open to helping provide recovery education on a quarterly basis to her students. Of course, I was much obliged to do so and through that avenue, I met one of those students named Kaisey, who asked me just over a month ago now, if I’d be open to speaking to the Greek students at her school, which has always been a hope of mine to do one day, given I am a Phi Kappa Psi brother from long ago at Rochester Institute of Technology.

I’m now well into my fourth year of working with Rescue Crisis and continue to find great reward on a weekly basis conducting recovery meetings there. While there have been some challenges at times with clients who are angry and refuse to look at their addiction or mental health issues, there have been far more clients I’ve been able to make a positive connection with and as a result, seen sparks of hope come alive within a number of them, which in turn has helped me to remain sober.

Given the struggles I still face with my health day after day, and how my ego often tempts me to go back to alcohol or drugs to comfort my pain levels, it is much in part due to the meetings I continue to hold at this volunteer position, the friendship I’ve made with Jewel there, and a blossoming connection to Kaisey, her sorority Kappa Delta, and the Greek Life at the University of Toledo, that has helped me to keep going, to remain sober, and to keep believing I’m still serving a purpose for God, all of which makes for plenty of reasons to be grateful for what Rescue Crisis has done for my life…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson