On December 6th, DAVIS Construction and Clark Construction held their annual benefit breakfast for Samaritan Inns. Monday Properties graciously opened their roof deck, recently built by DAVIS Construction, in Rosslyn with panoramic views of the city.
We are grateful to their generosity and commitment to our mission, which made the launching our Transitional Living Program possible!
When Lee Pearson’s wife threw him out of their house, he only took one thing with him: His Certificate of Honorable Discharge from the US Army. “It’s because it’s the only thing I thought I did well,” he said.
After being discharged from military service, Lee worked for the National Archives as a security officer. But one of his co-workers introduced him to crack cocaine. “Once you go over, there’s no return. And I went over. I partied every night. Even though I had to go to work the next day, I still partied. And, it started to take me down. Late paying bills. Stealing. Whatever it took for me to get it, I was doing. It all goes with the territory.
“And my life started to completely deteriorate. Real fast. To the point where I lost everything: my family, our townhouse, my job with the government.” In the end, Lee lived in a school bus on 5th Street NW. “I was homeless for 4 years.”
One day, high and staying in a crack house, Lee heard that bill collectors were looking for him. And the only way out that he saw was through a window. “I jumped out the window, and broke my wrist. Then I ran. I ran to the White House. That night, I slept on a bench near the White House.” The next day, he was in so much pain. “I told myself, you know what? I’m tired of living like this. Something’s got to change.”
So he walked several miles to a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital. “I think it was God’s grace that I even thought about the VA,” he said.
Lee participated in a 90-day treatment program at the VA Hospital. His counselor told him that 90 days is not enough for a person to reestablish back into society. The counselor recommended Samaritan Inns because of the Treatment and Recovery Continuum of Care.
This is a key feature of Samaritan Inns. Each successive step helps to meet the individual’s needs, while fostering greater independence and responsibility. Lee stayed at the Mozart Inn.
After that, he was introduced to Jesse Washington, our Co-Director of Affordable Housing Communities/SRO, who told him, “Why don’t you go to the next step, and give our SRO a shot?”
The Single Room Occupancy program is the last phase in the Continuum.
So Lee moved to Tabitha House. Gradually, his recovery started to reap long-term benefits. He reestablished a relationship with his daughters and ex-wife. He found a job as a shipping supervisor for a government agency.
Upon reflecting on Lee’s time in the program, Jesse shared, “Samaritan Inns gave Lee the opportunity to clean up the wreckage of his past. In doing this, he was able to become a productive member of society again, and be there to see his daughters grow up.”
In addition to his government job, Lee works at Samaritan Inns as an evening property manager at Elisha House.
“I can’t say enough about how Samaritan Inns saved my life. I love working with the residents. I let them see that they, too, can do this.”
In addition to his Army service, Lee has discovered that this is something else he does well.
“I’m almost 60 years old now. But I still have plenty of years to go. I truly am grateful. God has blessed me. In turn, I try to bless somebody else. It’s that simple. You know, I can’t keep what I got, less I give it away. So I give it away every day. I come to work motivated to give back.”
This Fall, Samaritan Inns is fortunate enough to have a few extra hands on board with our Adult Treatment Program. Shawn, an undergraduate Social Work student at Eastern Mennonite University, and Theresa, a graduate Clinical Pyschology student at Institute for the Psychological Sciences at Divine Mercy University, are interning with us this Fall and into the winter.
Shawn hails from Culpepper, Virginia. He came to Eastern Mennonite University, unclear of what his area of study should be but knew his end goal. “I always wanted to help people.” At first, Shawn was Pre-Law, but found it was not for him. Then, he joined their Global Peacemaking Program. But finally, he settled in on Social Work, a field he’s been passionate about ever since.
To finish his degree, he, along with 14 others from EMU, are staying here in DC, while working full-time at internships throughout the city. Shawn loved the environment and people of Samaritan Inns and was excited to get started.
Working side by side with counselors, our patient intake, and monitors, Shawn is able to get a lot of hands on experience on what it is like to work in the field of substance use disorders. Shawn’s passion for the work shines through, as he always tries to do more than what is expected of him.
Shawn loves what he does at Samaritan Inns. He truly feels like he can allow his true self to shine. “The person that rolls out of bed is the person at work.” He loves interacting with the clients and getting to know their stories. At first, he felt that, since he is a young college student, his age would be a challenge. But, as he had a few conversations, the age gaps begin to disappear.
As Shawn wraps up his undergraduate program, he shares that his ultimate goal is to work with juvenile populations, to help youth the way he has helped many clients at Samaritan Inns, listening.
When she first started looking for internships, substance use disorders were not an area of interest. She joined Samaritan Inns, thanks mostly to Judy, the Director of Treatment Programs, and the positive staff and work environment. “It has a good spirit. It sounds like a silly thing to say but there’s such a good atmosphere here,” Theresa shared.
While here, she’s grown passionate about the work and mission. According to her, she’s not alone in that experience. Many in her program found working with substance use disorders to be a fascinating and rewarding field.
On a day to day, she co-leads a psychological education group with JoAnne, the Director of the Adult Treatment Program, individual therapy, and, soon, she will be doing child therapy at the Clark Inn as well.
In her studies, Theresa’s primary focus is people recovering from trauma, such as child abuse and domestic violence. From her time here, she’s discovered the common thread of such traumas with substance use disorders, inciting a curiosity with how to address this on multiple levels.
Theresa excelled in the classroom but this was a big step for real life application. “The big difference so far just how intensely real people and their experiences are. Like, when you get to hear their stories, it’s so profoundly amazing,” she shared.
Like Shawn, Theresa will be graduating with her Master’s this year. She plans on returning to the St. Louis area. Before coming to Samaritan Inns, she wanted to work with children and adolescence, but, her experience here, has opened up a variety of interests for her.
Time will tell what the future will hold for both of our interns. We truly appreciate their service at Samaritan Inns and would welcome the opportunity for their return in the future!
Pam joined Samaritan Inns’ Adult Treatment Program back in August. She’s brought over 14 years of experience in counseling and treatment. Whether it’s conducting seminars, building vision boards with clients or coaching them through their toughest moments in treatment, she’s always poised, compassionate, and thoughtful. Her positivity is infectious.
However, Pam’s life and outlook were not always this way. As she has reminded our clients from time to time, “This is not my first rodeo.”
Personal experience brought her to the field. Growing up, Pam saw family members experiencing substance use disorders first hand. And, as she got older, it became even more personal.
“I was, myself, addicted for 25 years. Cocaine. Crack cocaine.” This experience brought much grief to her life, including jail time and the death of her husband. It wore her out to the point where, at 48, she sought treatment for the first time.
“When I got into recovery, I was serious about it. There were 65 people in the class and they
said, ‘Three of you will make it.’ And I turned around and said, ‘I wonder who the other two are going to be.’ Everybody laughed and I said, ‘I’m serious. Party’s over.”
And it was. Pam’s been sober ever since. After her treatment program, she went into a transitional program. There she observed the work that counselors were doing and they inspired her to pursue work in the field and went to Howard University to get her CAC (Certified Addictions Counselor) certificate.
Pam has worked across a wide variety of fields within addictions but treatment is her favorite. “The job we have is so important because we deal with wounded souls every day.”
Through treatment, she helps clients see their purpose and value. “I wish we took before and after pictures of our clients because, when you see them come in, beaten down, not feeling [worthy of even being alive], and then you see them after two weeks, if they’re invested in doing the treatment, you could see the glow.”
Although she is now on the other side of treatment, it hasn’t stopped her from constantly wanting to improve and learn. This past December, Pam achieved a dream she’s carried for many years: she graduated from college with a degree in Human Services from Trinity
University, the first in her family to get a college education.
What’s kept Pam passionate and dedicated is the clients themselves and restoring hope. Every day she wears the Sankofa, a symbol meaning to go back and take what was forgotten, a perfect metaphor for her personal mission; using her experience for positivity, helping those who are seeking recovery, and helping them build a brighter future from it.
“We’re doing what we do and we’re going to keep on trying to help these wounded souls…[like] the Good Samaritan. That’s what you do. You pick him up and you carry him along. If you can get one person walking out that door and be successful, I feel good.”
Pam is helping our clients to not forget what is important to them as they move forward toward their own life-long journey of recovery.