My name is Susan Hogarth. I am a person in long term recovery and the Executive Director at Westminster House.
This photo was taken 10 years ago, almost to the day. It was Christmas morning, the first Christmas in a long time that I didn’t wake up full of guilt and shame. I had been living in residential treatment for 4 months and It was around this point that I began to believe that I could stay clean and sober.
Reflecting on my early days at Westminster House, I can express how important Christmas was for me while in treatment. The sense of belonging was something I had not anticipated, and, thanks to donations, we were all a bit spoiled. Receiving gifts was not expected, but when we woke up on Christmas morning with a room full of beautifully wrapped gifts, I felt grateful even before I opened my presents.
Like many, I stayed in treatment at Westminster House long past the recommended 90 days. The truth is that by 90 days, I was only just beginning to get to know myself and the magnitude of my addiction that was just setting in. I was not ready to move out on my own and I needed continuing supports.
In 2008, there was no aftercare program available. Believe me, I would have jumped at the chance to live in a sober living residence, attend free aftercare programming, access education bursaries, as well as receive meals daily… all while getting the support that I needed so I could continue to stay clean and sober and have safe and guilt free Christmases.
In 2011 Westminster House implemented the Ongoing Recovery After Care Program. This program has allowed all our clients to access aftercare, regardless of their financial situation. This program is only possible because of the grants and gifts we receive from generous people who give to Westminster House Society.
Today, I pledge $500 to give the gift of aftercare to Westminster House program graduates, so they can access the OnGoing Recovery Program. My Christmas wish is that there are people reading this testimony, who will do the same. I know that not everyone can afford $500, but every dollar counts. And every donation over $25 will be issued a charity gift receipt.
Today, my life is delicious, and one of the best parts is watching the miracle of recovery happen to women and youth girls who benefit from our programs. Please join me today by giving the gift of aftercare this holiday season.
Susan Hogarth, Executive Director, Westminster House Society