Gateway Newsletter Spring 2021
Meet the 2021 Voice of Conference: Mark D
“The recovery community in Greensboro welcomed me from the very first day. It is phenomenal. I don’t know if I can put my finger on what makes it so special. All I know is that God put me with the people I needed to be with here.”
Mark Denton, Voice for Fellowship Hall’s 71st
Conference, can recall every detail of his first drink, down to the color of the cup he used to steal the beverage from his uncles fridge at just nine years old. From that moment, substances would be a vice grip on his life for decades, until he reached a point where he had no one — and nothing left to lose.
By 17, he was a blackout drinker. Frequently in trouble, he was expelled from high school two weeks prior to graduation. He married his high-school sweetheart and quickly became a parent with twin daughters. Despite his desire to be a good dad, Mark “realizes now that I would have them in the car, and I would have a beer between my legs. I drove drunk with those kids so many times. So many times,” Both he and his wife were struggling with addiction and after 14 years, they divorced. Mark remarried a few years later, but both he and his second wife drank, too. “I was hiding it from the kids at this point because they’d seen what drinking and using drugs had done to their mother.”
Mark was unaware that he was on his way to rock bottom. After a series of injuries, he was prescribed opiate pain pills. “I remember the first night I took one of those pills. I thought, wow, I like the way one of these makes me feel. If one does this, what will two do? What if I threw some alcohol on top of these?” Pain meds entered his wife’s life too and before long, their prescription drug use spiraled out of control. The girls were off at college when doctors stopped writing prescriptions and they turned to the streets spending everything they had on drugs. They lost their house, their cars, and their grip on reality. “I came home one day and the electricity had been shut off,” Mark remembered. It wasn’t long before they lost communication with everyone they loved and cared about, living in an extended stay motel for five years.
It was November 2015 when Mark finally answered his brother Chip’s phone call and agreed to meet him for lunch. Little did Mark know when he picked a close-by restaurant he could walk to (as their cars had been repossessed), his brother and sister in law, twin daughters, mother and a young man he didn’t know, would be waiting for him there. During lunch, he discovered that the young man was his son-in-law; one daughter had married and graduated college – and he had missed it. “That broke my heart. I didn’t even get to walk her down the aisle.” He left lunch that day, making promises, but he didn’t follow through. His married daughter eventually texted: “I knew you wouldn’t call.” He was stunned. She told him that she didn’t want to see him again until he was ready to get honest. Mark woke up. It was time to make a change.
“I don’t know what happened, I can’t explain it other than God doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself. My daughter had worked at a methadone clinic in college so she knew the right questions to ask, and I answered honestly. She asked me if I wanted help, and I did, and I wanted help for my wife too.”
On December 17th, 2015, Mark took his last drink. With the help of his family, he and his wife would part ways, leave TN, and seek treatment in separate facilities in NC. Post treatment, Mark came to Greensboro to stay in an Oxford house. He was given one phone number to call about meetings..none other than the late and beloved Jerry Shelton.
“I called Jerry and explained who I was, and how I got his number, but all he asked me for was an address. He picked me up every day and took me to a meeting for the next two weeks. I dove in feet first. I loved Alcoholics Anonymous from the very first meeting I attended.”
Through the power of Alcoholics Anonymous and his connection with his sponsor, Mark found his way to connecting with Wayne Smith and volunteering as a van drive at Fellowship Hall, attending Conference, and would go on to serve on the Fellowship Hall Council.
Mark and his wife have both been sober for over five years – the best five years of their lives. They both have jobs they love, share an apartment that they love, and they love their AA community and giving back. They’ve both made amends with their family members and enjoy close relationships with their daughters and loved ones.
As the 2021 Voice of Conference, Mark has been working with Council volunteers to select this year’s speakers and deliver an outstanding program in August. “I’m expecting a miracle, meaning I am expecting to have a live conference this year. We need it, the speakers need it, and most importantly — the Fellowship and the guest at the Hall need it,” said Mark. “It’s an honor to serve in this way and provide an opportunity for Fellowship Hall alumni, family, and friends to come together and celebrate the daily work that is recovery.”
Join us for a Recovery Weekend!
Fellowship Hall’s 71st Conference, Expect A Miracle, will be held August 6-8, 2021 at the Downtown Greensboro Marriott…COVID permitting! REGISTER NOW!
Message from Mike Yow
Dear Fellowship Hall alumni, family, and friends,
I am thrilled that 2021 is finally here…and vaccinations for COVID 19 are well underway! For the first time in many months, there is a new sense of optimism and hope as we contemplate the ability to once again gather together in person.
We have been so blessed and fortunate here at Fellowship Hall. The work of our staff — to meet the challenge of operating during a pandemic while staying focused on our mission — has been exceptional. The gifts from our donors — to help us keep operations going every day and to provide treatment for those less fortunate — has been incredible. And just this past week, we passed our accreditation survey with the Joint Commission with flying colors. As the surveyor shared with us, her week here was, “one of the most astonishingly perfect” surveys she has participated in. She was highly complementary of our processes, our staff and our facility. She also made comments repeatedly on how very focused we are on our mission. As President and CEO, I am honored to be working with such a dedicated staff and Board of Directors.
As we look ahead to the possibility of restrictions being lifted for in-person gatherings, we are hopeful that we’ll be able to host this year’s Conference, themed “Expect a Miracle,” at the Downtown Greensboro Marriott the weekend of August 6-8. Should we be unable to meet in person, we will once again move conference to a virtual platform. Stay tuned as details develop.
Speaking of virtual events, we’re hosting the Walk-Run-Bike for Recovery event March 28 – April 25th. This event is our modified Walk for Recovery, but our aim is the same… bring our community together to celebrate recovery. Be sure to check out page 6 here in the newsletter to get the details and participate. We’ll also be hosting some lunch and learn workshops each week of the race to keep you engaged and connected. Thanks to our sponsors for helping us with this event.
A year wouldn’t be complete without the E. Raymond Alexander Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament – and this year is special!! We’ll be celebrating 20 years of this great tournament and the Spirit of Ray Alexander, an outstanding community leader, friend, sponsor, and recovery champion. We’ll be taking over Bryan Park this year – with 250 player spots available – playing on both courses!! 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams will be announced for each course, along with the usual games and fun. Check out page 7 in the newsletter or visit www.FellowshipHall.com/golf to be a sponsor or register to play. It’s going to be an awesome tournament this year – with a few surprises too!
I hope to see you online or in-person in the months ahead. Be sure to take advantage of the COVID vaccine when your spot is open, and keep wearing your face covering, washing hands, and social distancing! The sooner we are able to work together and subdue COVID, the sooner we can experience the joys of being together, in person! Be safe and be well,
In loving service,
Mike Yow, President & CEO
Trusting the Process By By Michael Bryant, Primary Counselor, BS/CSAC/CPSS
If you’ve ever baked something before, you know it can be hard to look at the ingredients and imagine it as the final product…a delicious baked good. That’s because baking is a process that requires patience, much like the process of recovery. Recovery works on you, “bakes” you, shapes you. It takes work, time, and consistency.
When I think about “tips” for recovery, I invite everyone to keep their recovery their top priority. You’ll know what your priorities are by what you practice. Remember that you must build your life around your recovery, not your recovery around your life.
The Four P’s
I also always emphasize something called The four P’s.
1. Get a PROGRAM.
2. Live by the PRINCIPLES of the Program.
3. Stay in the PROCESS
4. And you will receive the PROMISES
Most people fall short in the process. We get a program (AA or NA), we live by the principles (12-Steps), but we don’t stay in the process because we’re looking for a quick fix or instant gratification — we grow weary in the well-doing of recovery. Be willing to stay in the process, it is essential to receive the promises.
You must always remember this is a “WE” program and not an “I” program. No one recovers alone. Lean on your support network.
Rely on your Higher Power as You Understand It
Reliance on a higher power is what provides the power to move through the various phases of your recovery. Reliance on a higher power empowers and equips us to move forward in our recovery. Self-reliance takes us back to our addiction.
Michael Bryant is a Certificated Substance Abuse Counselor with 20 years of experience. He is the author of the daily devotional, Living-N-Recovery. In his own words, “I have been blessed to be a blessing. Recovery has been one of the most difficult challenges in my life, yet it has been and is the most rewarding. My prayer is that what I say and do will inspire, encourage, empower and equip others to grow and gain freedom from active addiction and embrace the gift of recovery.”
We’re going virtual this year for our Walk-Run-Bike for Recovery event.
Join us as we celebrate recovery and spread the news that treatment can work!
Who can participate? Whether you’re in recovery, know someone in recovery, or want to support your family, friends, and neighbors – everyone is invited to help us build a healthier community. Participate on your own or invite your friends and family to form a team!
When: Log your distance(s) on the free JustMove app between March 28 and April 24. On Sunday, April 25, we’ll host a live Zoom event to congratulate our winners and celebrate recovery together.
Where: It’s up to you, choose your own route!
Any perks? Yes! Each week, we’ll host informative workshops with local experts covering a wide range of topics from gear and friendships to stretching and prevention. PLUS Winners for each race will receive a medal and prizes – and because the last will someday be the first, our last place finishers will receive a special swag bag, too!
How do I register? It’s easy! Go to https://fellowshiphall.jmvirtualraces.com/ and click the WALK-RUN-BIKE WITH US button. The minimum donation to participate is $15 to support our Partner Scholarship Program at Fellowship Hall. Once you register, install the free Just Move app on your phone, enter the race code you’ll receive – then pick which event you want to participate in. When you’re ready, log your “race” in the app between March 28 and April 24th.
Make a difference: Saving lives and families from the grip of addiction is our mission at Fellowship Hall, but many people face financial barriers that prevent them from admission into our treatment program. The Partner Scholarship Program provides access to quality treatment and creates a solid support network post treatment. Proceeds from this year’s Walk-Run-Bike for Recovery will support this program. When a life is transformed through recovery, our greater community is strengthened.
Want a cool Walk-Run-Bike for Recovery T-shirt? The first 250 participants who make a minimum donation of $30 will receive a t-shirt, shipped by mail.
Want to be a sponsor? Contact Altina Layman at firstname.lastname@example.org OR 336-553-6625.