Dear Friends, In my work, we place a lot of focus on graduations and milestones in recovery. After all, that's the goal for each resident - to graduate the program, maintain sobriety, and walk out a new life.
We are proud of the fact that 55% of our residents graduate the program and maintain 12+ months of sobriety. But what happens to the women who leave the program early? It is heartbreaking when a resident chooses to leave the program before graduation. But does that mean failure? Or that no progress has been made? My answer is no.
Several weeks ago, we took a deep dive into our numbers to determine the efficacy of our program. We wanted to know if what we are doing is working. Our graduation rate is exciting, but what about the other 45%?
I know that change is happening in our residents, even if they don't complete the full program. The numbers speak for themselves: - 67% of our residents find employment while in the program - 92% of our residents are re-united with family while in the program - None of our residents have criminally re-offended after leaving the program If I look at this through the lens of "good, better, best" my goal for the residents is always "best." I want all of them to graduate and learn a new way life, with confidence in themselves, surrounded by people who love them.
For most of our residents, this becomes a reality. But for some, they only reach "better" or "good." It's hard for me to accept, but there is still value in the work that these residents have invested in themselves, and our contribution to these women's lives still makes an impact. Talking about failure is never fun, but I'm hoping these numbers change the conversation, from one about failure, to one about incremental improvements.
Over the years, there have been a few women that have left early, and come back months later to finish the program. These stories give me hope. I have hope that when a resident chooses to leave the program before graduation, that it doesn't mean their story is over, but rather that there is still more healing to be done. It is not the end of a story, just the end of a chapter.
I want to thank all of our supporters for your role in our story. As you know, Unshackled by Love is 100% run by volunteers, and we receive no government funding. This means that every donation and every hour volunteered goes directly to support our residents. We literally could not do it without you.
Sincerely, Jewellan D. Morrison, founder and executive director