Gateway Newsletter Spring Summer 2019
MEET THE VOICE: DON WINGATE, THE VOICE FOR FELLOWSHIP HALL’S 69TH CONFERENCE
First, tell us who is Don Wingate?
I have been clean and sober for 7 years and am an active member of AA in Greensboro. I am a former guest at Fellowship and truly owe my life today to the counselors at the Hall for helping me and believing in me when I was unable to do so. I was born and raised in Greensboro and graduated from Wake Forest University in 2002. For fun, I enjoy exercising but especially running, playing golf, traveling, spending time with my fiancé, friends, family and of course my Golden Retriever. I also enjoy growing my faith and my relationship with God — without God in my life there is no way I would have been able to get sober or stay sober! For a career, I have spent the vast majority of my years post college in the furniture industry, and I am fortunate to be the VP of Sales for a direct mail/advertising/data and analytics company that is based in New York.
We often hear our guests and visitors say they felt something special the first time they visited our campus. What was your experience the first time you came to Fellowship Hall?
On my first visit, I had just completed a 5 night stay at Cone Behavioral Health and as you can imagine, I had a wide range of emotions! Honestly, the last place I thought I would be in my early 30s was an addiction treatment center. I was not only angry about my situation but also full of guilt and shame about what I had put my family through. The good news is that those feelings quickly turned to hope after speaking with various counselors and I learned that recovery was not only possible but that I could actually enjoy life AND be sober!
Tell us about an experience you’ve had in your own recovery or in helping someone else in recovery that impacted your life.
Above everything else I do, working with others is what truly keeps me sober on a day to day basis. Unfortunately not everyone I have worked with has stayed sober but sponsorship for me, to this point, has been 100% successful because I have stayed sober. Working with others has reminded me of just how bad things are when a person is in active addiction. I see what it does to their personal relationships, their health and their overall well-being. I know that if I do not continue working on a daily basis, I will be right back in their situation. On the flip side, I have also worked with guys who have jumped into the program, worked steps, done tons of service work and have had all of the promises come true in their lives. Seeing people recover and watching the positive growth that takes place in their lives is so rewarding for me. It is nothing that I am doing, I am just passing on what has been freely given to me by so many others who have come before me. I am so grateful.
In what capacities have you volunteered at Fellowship Hall?
I have volunteered at the Annual Conference as part of the Fellowship Hall Council during the past several years and I routinely take 5th Steps with Guests who are completing their treatment at the Hall.
What are your responsibilities as the Voice of Conference?
One of my primary responsibilities is working with other members on the Council to plan and coordinate the speakers who are joining us this year. We have a speaker committee who spends countless hours listening and reviewing AA, NA and Al-Anon speakers prior to submitting them to the Board for approval. We also have countless volunteers who are willing to give their time to ensure that all the details of the Conference are handled. The Voice makes sure that everyone knows what their responsibility entails. All of the jobs are extremely important and we are very fortunate to have people that want to help!
What exciting things can we look forward to at this year’s Conference?
We have a fantastic group of speakers lined up! Additionally, for the first time we will have a break-out session on Saturday after the annual Gratitude meeting that will focus on relapse prevention. We have lined up a group of folks from both NA and AA to share their experience, strength and hope on this topic that has affected virtually all of us in some way – either personal experience or having friends or family members that have relapsed. We are also very excited about the Golf Tournament changing venues to the Cardinal Country Club – it is the first time we have been able to play a Pete Dye course!
What is the best advice you can give someone who is struggling with Substance Use Disorder to start them on the road to recovery?
The best advice I can give is to simply “surrender.” Know that help is available, have the courage to ask for help and then have the courage to accept help. Life will get better but only if the person is first willing to fully admit that they are truly powerless over drugs and alcohol. “Surrender to Win” is one of my favorite recovery axioms and it’s something that gave me a little bit of hope when I was at my bottom.
Greetings from Fellowship Hall! I was out walking on the campus today reveling in the springtime explosion of color! Everything along the trail, in the Gratitude Garden, and on campus is blooming! We have a lot to be grateful for.
One thing I am grateful for is the opportunity to travel in the next couple of months representing The Hall at several state and national conferences. We are building partnerships and exploring more opportunities to get people into treatment. The opiate crisis creates a unique opportunity for a wider discussion on treatment, AND the bigger issue of recovery and that treatment works! Like many providers, we are seeing an uptick in admissions of folks who are using meth and are responding appropriately.
On campus, our work continues on Hazel’s 2, our newest addition of transitional housing that will provide a safe and sober longer-term stay for women. We’ve also introduced a new Professionals Track to our Primary Program, designed for guests who will interact with a monitoring board after they complete treatment with us. Our first run of this track received a positive reception. If you’d like more information, visit the treatment pages of our website, or give us a call.
We are also working on our Alumni initiatives. I want to encourage you to visit our website or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter where you can find information on our upcoming events for our alumni and community. Internal conversations have begun about opening an Alumni House on our campus in the future. Please be sure to let me know if this is something you would use, if it were available.
Speaking of events, there’s lots to get involved with in May and the coming months! We had a great turn out for our 3rd Annual Walk for Recovery (see the photos on page 7) and now we’re gearing up for our Volunteer Appreciation Picnic on May 21, Melodies in the Garden on June 23, our annual E. Raymond Alexander Golf Tournament on August 2 (at the Cardinal this year!), and our 69th Conference the weekend of August 2-4 at the Marriott Downtown Greensboro. PLUS we’re partnering with the Healthy Relationships Initiative folks to present “Keeping A Strong Couple Relationship During Challenging Times” – a free workshop here at the Hall on June 15th. But wait, there’s more! Our continuing education program for area clinicians continues through the summer, providing quality training to meet their re-licensing needs. It’s hard to keep up with it all – but stay tuned to our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages or visit our website’s EVENTS page for up-to-date event information and registration options. I’ll be looking for you at these events!
As always, the beat goes on. We are working hard to fulfill our mission of making treatment available. One way we do that is continuing our efforts to add partners to the Partner Scholarship Fund and raising money specifically around this initiative. The Financial Assistance Fund has been instrumental to bridge the financial gap for people who are already here so they can finish treatment. We are gratified by your support of these efforts. If you want to help with these initiatives, please reach out to our Director of Development to learn how you can support these programs.
I am so grateful to hear that people are well and thriving in recovery, as evidenced by the very nice cards, emails and phone calls I have received from folks I have had the good fortune of working with through the years. I know that it doesn’t always go so well, but I also know the good news can be overlooked by the bad news.
I have learned to embrace the news as it comes. It is what allows me to come to work every day, excited about opportunities we have in front of us to be of help. I wish each of you well, and look forward to seeing you at Conference, if not sooner!
In loving service,
Join us for Fellowship Hall’s 69th Conference for a recovery weekend!
True to this year’s theme, “EACH DAY BRINGS NEW HOPE” – Conference brings together our recovery community for inspiration, encouragement and fellowship. Don’t miss this once-a-year event to recharge!
Make it your personal retreat and stay at the Greensboro Marriott Downtown. We have a special room rate of just $128 per night, if booked by July 12, 2019. To reserve your room, call 336-379-8000 and ask for the Fellowship Hall Conference Rate.
When: August 2-4, 2019
Where: Greensboro Downtown Marriott 304 N. Greene Street, Greensboro
Cost Per Person:
$35 Conference + Picnic
$25 Conference Only
$10 Single Day | $10 Picnic
EACH DAY BRINGS NEW HOPE Conference Schedule
FRIDAY – AUGUST 2
6:00pm Check-in & Registration Opens
7:00pm Meet & Greet Social Hour
8:00pm Welcome, Recognition for golf tourney winners, Spirit of Ray Award
8:30pm NA Speaker Billy A, Winthrop, MA
SATURDAY – AUGUST 3
8:00am Check-in and Registration
9:00am AA Speaker Reid H, Sioux Falls, SD
10:30am Al-Anon Speaker
Noon Picnic at the Hall
2:00pm Gratitude Meeting at the Hall
3:30pm Special Breakout Session at the Hall
6:00pm Check-in & Registration
7:30pm Recovery Countdown
8:15pm AA Speaker, Cyndi M, Louisville, KY
9:00pm Ice Cream Social
SUNDAY – AUGUST 4
9:00am Check-in & Registration
10:00am AA Speaker Tim H, Louisville, KY
11:00am Closing Remarks and Thank You
KEEPING THE SPIRIT OF RAY ALIVE!
Ray Alexander, Jr., understood well that recovery is a process of change and that managing the disease of addiction requires making healthy choices, having a stable and safe place to live, and having relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.
For Ray, the best way to build a support system was spending quality time with friends on the golf course. It wasn’t unusual for him to ask someone new to recovery to hit the links with him. He believed it was important to show the newbies that having fun on the golf course did not require adult beverages. Ray understood that building a strong support system is the foundation of establishing long-term recovery.
In 2001, after his untimely passing, Ray’s friends came together to celebrate his loving spirit with the E. Raymond Alexander, Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament on the first weekend in August. For 18 years, the tournament has celebrated Ray’s legacy of love and hope while providing financial support to Fellowship Hall. Proceeds from the tournament are used to support Fellowship Hall’s Family Program with free tuition for one family member for each guest in treatment. Hundreds of families have been impacted with the tools the Family Program provides.
This year, the tournament will take place on Friday, August 2nd at The Cardinal by Pete Dye…a new course for the tournament, and many would say, the most challenging one yet! This tournament is for anyone who loves the game of golf and wants to help our guests and their families get on track for a long-term recovery!
Want to hit the links with us? Limited number of spots – don’t delay!
MOSE TAUGHT US TO “CONSTANTLY EXPECT BETTER THINGS.”
By Ogi Overman
Unlike most folks who find their inner hero at some point after finding recovery, Mose Kiser, Jr. was a hero to his community long before. At the time, however, he was portrayed as everything from a courageous, visionary leader to a cowardly, incompetent malcontent. Fortunately, history records him fondly as the former.
Although he got sober at Fellowship Hall on October 18, 1981, a full two decades prior Mose made a decision that would reverberate internationally and put Greensboro in the bullseye of a ferocious debate. In 1961, at the relatively tender age of 27, Mose was selected as the general chairman of the Greater Greensboro Open, the PGA event known today as the Wyndham Championship. He had become aware of a 39-year-old African-American golfer from Charlotte named Charlie Sifford who was shooting very impressive rounds and consistently winning black-only events, including five Negro Nationals. The PGA heretofore had a whites-only policy, but Mose decided to ignore that segregationist stance and invite Sifford to the GGO.
That decision was both lauded and vilified — this was, after all, the Old South in 1961 — but Mose stood by it. He got several death threats, including one unsigned letter that read: “If you love your children don’t let them play in your front yard by themselves…” Undaunted, he simply took his kids, Mose III, 7, and Pat, 5, to their grandfather’s house for the duration of the tourney.
In what was already a supercharged media atmosphere, Sifford himself intensified it by firing a 68 to take the first-round lead. He wound up finishing fourth, but golf’s color barrier had officially been broken. Six months later the PGA reversed the “Caucasians-only” clause in its bylaws and today it is a non-issue. Sifford went on to win two PGA events and thrived on the Senior Tour, winning the 1975 PGA Seniors Championship. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004.
Mose, meanwhile, went on to have a similarly illustrious career on the local level. A successful sales and marketing executive and tireless civic activist, the list of his accomplishments and accolades is long. But of all the ways he served his community, the one of which he was most proud was his service to the organization that made it all possible, Fellowship Hall.
“I was a hard worker and always tried to do the right thing,” he told O. Henry Magazine in 2015, “but as my drinking picked up, it became harder and harder to hide it. I finally faced up to it and had no choice but to try to do something about it.”
Just as he did with everything else in life, Mose dove into sobriety head-first. Four years into recovery, on April 16, 1985, he was elected to the Hall Board of Directors, serving variously as chairman, vice chairman and secretary. When illness forced him to resign, he was named Member Emeritus on October 18, 2016 (not coincidentally, his sobriety date), making him the longest-serving member in Hall history. On February 3, 2015, the recently completed women’s residence became the Kiser Women’s Lodge in his honor.
Current board chairman Jerry Shelton, whom Mose sponsored since 2001, commented on his friend and mentor: “I don’t see how he did as much as he did. He was so devoted to the Hall, but also his family, his community, his church, his alma mater (N.C. State), and AA as a whole. He was the most caring man I’ve ever met, an inspiration to us all.”
When Mose Kiser died on December 19, 2018, a paragraph in his lengthy obituary in the Greensboro News & Record perfectly summed up his dedication to the Hall: “Of all the ways Mose has impacted the lives of others, there is no question that his body of work through Fellowship Hall and their affiliated groups has been and will have the most long-lasting generational effect on thousands of lives.”
Years ago, Mose committed to memory his favorite passage from the July 13 meditation in the “Twenty-Four Hours a Day” book which begins, “Be expectant.”. He relished passing it along to anyone he encountered and would be delighted that the ripple effect he created will live on long after his passing.
“Be expectant. Constantly expect better things. Believe that what God has in store for you is better than anything you ever had before. The way to grow old happily is to expect better things right up to the end of your life and even beyond that. A good life is a growing, expanding life, with ever-widening horizons, an ever-greater circle of friends and acquaintances, and an ever-greater opportunity for usefulness.”
UPCOMING FELLOWSHIP HALL EVENTS!
You’re invited… come out and fellowship with us
Saturday, June 15 from 9:30-11:00am
Practical strategies you can use to navigate challenging situations and strengthen your relationship. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER – Advance Registration Required.
Sunday, June 23 from 2-4pm in the Gratitude Garden at Fellowship Hall
Join us for summer sounds in the Garden with live music by Mood Swingz featuring Amber Marlowe. Bring your lawn chair or blanket and sunscreen. We’ll also have Kona Ice on hand to keep you cool ~ and it’s all FREE!
RAYMOND ALEXANDER MEMORIAL GOLF TOURNAMENT
August 2-4 at the Marriott Downtown Greensboro
Get the fast pass and register online! Just $35 covers the entire weekend & the Fellowship Hall Picnic!
September 21 leaving Riding High Harley Davidson
Registration opens at 9am; Kickstands up at 10am. Enjoy a ride through the countryside and enjoy lunch at Fellowship Hall! $25 rider; $5 passenger.
“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” -Charlotte Whitton