I have been visiting Friends 4 Recovery for over three years. I am very pleased with the growth of the organization. I greatly appreciate the peer-based approach/philosophy toward their Recovery Mission. Outstanding education and support is offered 4 days a week. I have witnessed a great number of individuals cross the threshold as new members, and soon gain the self confidence, self esteem, and skill sets to become leaders, facilitators, and Board members. I've worked within the 'helping' professionals since 1983. The achievements observed at F4R are unparalleled.
This is a grass roots organization. Founded on the tragic fact that people with mental health concerns typically have a medical condition that contributes to their misery. Health is not a commodity to be bought, but a right of everyone.
Friends 4 Recovery provides a unique service in our community. As a professional in the field, I encoutner many clients that feel like they are the only person who has experienced the symptoms and challenges associated with their mental illness. Friends 4 Recovery offers a safe place where people can reallize that they are not alone.
Recently I was meeting with a woman who has struggled to manage her depression for many years. She talked with enthusiasm about her participation in a WRAP class at Friends. She recounted a recent incident when she was sitting alone in her apartment with the shades drawn and the lights turned off, and it occurred to her that "this is depression." She indicated that this was the first time that she made the connetion between this isolation and her depression. She attributed this awareness to the things she had learned at Friends.
Friends 4 Recovery is making a difference and saving lives.
Friends 4 Recovery has something unique to offer in that all of the services are provided by individuals in mental health recovery. I have been involved from the beginning when we first started as a support group and it has been wonderful to see peer support in action and the growth of the center. I have seen many people grow into leadership roles at the center and give back to the center that has helped them.
The "Friends for Recovery" organization has been a very positive experience for the individuals that I work with. It's a place where they can attend classes, work on their recovery, and have total unbiased support from their peers.
I began attending Friends when it was a support group and when Carla Beck created the Whole Health Center with its first grant. I've been with it on and off, mostly on, since then and have served on the board for about two years now. It has provided me with an opportunity to peer counsel and volunteer in various capacities with my peers. It has provided a sense of purpose and the groups there are very helpful.
I was one of the beginning Board Members and came and helped start this nonprofit. It was a real love and passion for all of us. I was gone for 3-4 years and turned up just before they moved to their new awesome location! It is an excellent place to grow, learn and make good friends. The new people are very compassionate and they have lot's of experience with very committed members. I couldn't recommend a better place anywhere.
A little over two years ago, I began attending Friends 4 Recovery. I was 50 years of age and with the exception of my family I had lived a life of almost complete isolation. Indeed, the only job I had ever held was working in the family business for my mother. However, my mother had passed away, the business had failed, and my family had decided that it was time for me to live on my own for the first time in my life. I did not drive and I suffered from debilitating social anxiety and panic attacks. I felt as if I had no viable options for my future. I thought about taking my own life but lacked the courage to do the only thing I felt could solve my problems. It was in this context that I first began to attend Friends 4 Recovery. It was a life transforming event. For the first time in my life I learned that there was such a thing as recovery from mental health challenges. I learned the value of peer support and in interacting with other individuals who could relate to my experiences because they had suffered in a similar way, As a result, for the first time in my life I began to make friends and build relationships. I began to participate in group discussions and eventually began to lead groups on my own. As someone who had always been terrified of speaking in public, I can not even begin to describe what an empowering experience that was for me. I had come to Friends 4 Recovery feeling broken beyond repair as a result of the depression and anxiety that had always controlled my life, and now I felt as if I was giving back helping others and helping myself as a result. Eventually, because of my profound belief in this wonderful organization, I took on additional risks and joined the Board of Directors in an effort to play a leadership role. Today, I serve as President of the Board and continue to volunteer facilitating groups and contributing in any way that I can. I continue to struggle with the issues that have always been apart of my life. However, I am no longer defined by my depression and anxiety but rather feel as if I have found meaning in my life through my commitment to Friends 4 Recovery.
I have been in crisis with depression for well over a year and was isolated to the point of being unable to leave my house except for a couple of times a month. As I began my recovery and found out about peer support, my whole life changed. A peer counselor at Henrico Mental Health gave me a list of support groups in our local area, and I found out about Friends 4 Recovery. From the first day that I went there to attend a support group I was welcomed and supported. The support group was exactly what I needed at that juncture to help prevent myself from isolating by reminding myself at least once a week that there are others suffering exactly like I am and learning to recover with the help of great peers and staff. Additionally, the afternoon classes were so interesting and somehow seemed to be designed for the exact issues I was experiencing such as unemployment and developing coping skills. The weekly WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) classes help me work on developing my coping skills, and the Employment and Volunteerism class helped me to focus and get back out into the work force. In addition the Creative Recovery classes have helped me to begin to write again, inspired by the other peers and artists at the center. I cannot possibly list the ways that my association with Friends 4 Recovery has enriched my life, enhanced my recovery, and helped me to make great friends and have fun with my recovery. In addition, the staff have helped to encourage me to develop my own leadership skills with the view of eventually becoming a peer facilitator and/or counselor myself. By helping others recover, the staff at Friends 4 Recovery help us see that stable and sustained recovery from mental illness is possible. They never let us give up hope. Rhonda B