The June 2016 newsletter is out and in it we’ll see a review of the 6th Annual Celebration of Recovery, a visit Jim Stingl from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, information about the Annual Cookout/Picnic, and a memorial for Robert Love. Click the link below to read the newsletter.
This past Wednesday Dixie and I brought the meal for the residents of the Inn. The conversation at the table was once more a witness to the ‘plus’ that many of the residents experience as part of Serenity Inn’s approach to recovery. Sitting beside me one of the men said, “This is my thirteenth time in a recovery program. There is not another like this.” Another said, “I have never lived in a more beautiful spot. This is great.”
As we enter our 12th year in providing opportunities for men to begin meaningful recovery, I am drawn to rehearse again the values and principles that have invited us to this work.
They continue to guide our decisions. Of all the wonderful insights that Samaritan Inns [in Washington, D.C.] shared with us in the early days, the rarest and least understood yet important has to do with ‘Beauty.’
We regard the men as ‘beautiful’ in the midst of their human struggle. We employ staff who embody ‘beauty’ in their personal style. The staff develops programs that depend on the role of ‘beauty’ in one’s life, therefore the ‘spiritual growth’ emphasis. The men witness over and over to the ‘beautiful’ people that daily come and provide a meal.
Serenity Inn is a facility that is so much more than a place to lay one’s head. The hands that built it from scratch 14 years ago chose the colors, the room arrangements, the architectural touches so a living space could be part of the healing process, a process emphasizing the role of ‘beauty’ in life. With Bill Buehler’s dedicated work to ‘maintenance’ along with other volunteers working on the landscaping, gardening and the tasks, ‘beauty’ is sustained. The yearly celebration at the Italian Community Center is an event of beauty, as are the stories that the men share. Add the summer picnic hosted by the residents, the alumni Christmas celebration and the whole emphasis on beauty becomes essential to how men recover.
When that ‘beauty’ is absent, unnecessary struggle ensues. We lose our focus. Less important values move beauty aside.
It is with that backdrop that I read “When Beauty Strikes” by David Brooks in this morning’s NYTimes (1/15/2016). I share it with the hope that as we plan expansion and provide more and more services, we will always emphasize the necessity of ‘beauty’ being primary in our work. This, I believe, is central to our ‘spiritual growth’ as the board.
During this holiday season, I feel compelled to talk about something different from the typical bright side message. Oftentimes, it is challenging to talk about faith and spirituality because many confuse spirituality with religion. Or they measure faith with success. However you understand them, Faith and Spirituality seem to shine brighter during Thanksgiving and Christmas. People are kinder, a little more loving and rethinking those missed times spent with God. Sadly, the journey of faith for many individuals can be painful and challenging as they try to figure out who they are and where they belong on the food chain called life.
For many, Serenity Inns offers opportunities for recovery and a refuge to those whose faith has taken a blow and offers as well a shot of hope to their wounded spirits. For the staff, the work is intense year round. We present ourselves as good stewards of the work. Many of our volunteers see the results of our work, the smile on our faces, and our premium cheerleading skills. 1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful. For us, it is more than a job; it is a commitment to our faith, to the core of who we are as individuals.
Watch your mailbox in early March for your invitation to the 6th Annual Celebration of Recovery Dinner and Silent Auction at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. For a second year, we have chosen a Thursday evening that need not interfere with your weekend plans.
Steve Fendly Artwork
A recent graduate, Steve Fendley, created this artwork while a Serenity Inn resident.
He wanted to do something for the house and is honored to have it hung in the entryway. Steve enjoys the close work with ink and marker, a form of zen meditation for him in the 80 hours it took him to complete.
Where are they now?
(The 22nd in a series of Interviews with Alumni)
by Lorraine Buehler
Phil Johnson found Serenity Inn on September 5, 2014 after hitting rock bottom; he was homeless, bouncing around because of drinking and unable to keep a job. A friend who found him sleeping in a garage told him he needed to stop, and he took Phil to detox. At age thirty-seven, this was Phil’s 7th time in detox, having been introduced to drugs at age 15 when he started to smoke weed. Marijuana soon led to alcohol which became Phil’s drug of choice.