Program Spotlights

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    Becky Vinson: Service Gives Life

    Becky Vinson’s military background was obvious as she led the latest Recovery Beyond climb team up Mt. St. Helens. She is comfortable dishing out orders and there isn’t a hint of compromise in her voice.

    “Put on your packs. Break time is over.”

    “We gotta pick up the pace.”

    But there is more to Becky than toughness. Positivity and a can-do spirit radiate from every pore. It’s impossible not to love her. She is a force of goodwill.

    Becky got involved with Recovery Beyond back in 2016 when she was providing veterans’ services at the Tacoma Rescue Mission. She was invited to become a volunteer on Recovery Beyond’s climb team. Now she also serves on the Recovery Beyond Advisory Team.

    “I have no idea why I thought climbing Rainier would be easy,” she laughs. “I WAY underestimated it. I was the slowest one in the group. I had never done any serious hiking. My job was to boost everyone else’s self-esteem by always being dead last. But somehow I made it up.”

    From her years in the Navy, Becky suffers with PTSD. As she climbed, she discovered something that surprised her.

    “The rhythm of climbing became a tool to work out my anxiety. I was actually shocked at the mental health benefits. The pace is regular, like a metronome. Everything syncs to that pace. I don’t know how it works. It was an accidental discovery. But the more I hike and climb the more I understand that it is important to do activities that are strenuous. Climbing is grueling. But as I take each step, I work out the stuff inside. I’ve talked with lots of others about this and they all say the same thing.”

    Spotting Becky sitting behind a desk is unlikely. Instead, you’ll find her with a backpack slung over her shoulder, making her way to the homes of veterans of WW2, the Korean War, and Vietnam. “Many of them are homebound due to war injuries and other significant chronic illnesses. I even manage people on ventilators. It’s a real honor taking care of these people who are literal heroes.”

    Becky also volunteers at the Neighborhood Clinic in Tacoma where she works with poor, homeless, and disadvantaged people. Prior to this, Becky started the Homeless Veterans Primary Care Team.

    “Homelessness is a deep, dark, black hole with no ladder. If you want out, you have to scale the walls. Lots of people give up.”

    This strikes home for Becky. In high school, she was homeless herself. Her way out was the Navy. After serving from 1992-1997 she used the G.I. Bill to become a Registered Nurse, then paid her own way to become a Nurse Practitioner.

    “I found a way out,” she says,”so I know it’s possible. I consider it a duty to help others find their way out too. I know what it’s like to be in that hole. And I know you can get out.”

    “Most people didn’t have cars and money to get to the V.A. so I went to them. I remembered what it was like to be on the streets. I asked myself where I would go and
    started looking. Sure enough, I found them there.”

    Becky offered medical assistance right on the street and helped people find housing and other benefits. “Homeless people always have multiple things going on. Almost always there is addiction. But also, mental illness, various forms of abuse… Some people think it is hopeless. I don’t. There’s always a way. I just take it one issue at a time.”

    In all her work, Becky considers trust her most powerful asset.

    “These people have heard lots of promises that were not kept. It is critical that I keep my word. I tell them I’ll be here every week at a certain time. I invite them to come see me and check-in. I tell them their situation won’t scare me off, that I’ve probably seen worse. I will be here. I will listen. Then it’s on me to follow through, every week, without fail.”

    It works.

    “People regularly say to me, ‘You’re the only person in this world I trust.’ That is exactly what I want to be. If there is one supportive, reliable person in your life, it’s a game-changer.”

    “If I had a magic pill to fix addiction, I’d prescribe it. I don’t have one. I can give pills for blood pressure. Or diabetes. But I can’t cure addiction. That’s why mountaineering is important and why I volunteer with Recovery Beyond. It’s a tool. It helped me. It helps others. The exterior mountain is an exact parallel of the inner mountain. Climb one and you climb the other. It’s more than a metaphor. It’s a fact.”

    “Being able to make it out of homelessness and to help others do the same—honest to God, I feel like the luckiest person alive. In fact, I know I am. I’m happy. I love living this life. I’m surrounded by great people. I wake up every day, look in the mirror, and like who I see. The rewards for my own mental health are outstanding. This is the best I’ve ever felt. By helping others, I get to feel normal. Man, it’s a great feeling. I want everyone to feel it too.”

    Story written by Maury Robertson

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    “It’s like hanging out with friends you’ve never met before.”

    “When you come to a Recovery Beyond event, it’s like hanging out with friends you may never have met before.
    The new vision is to have year-round programming with multiple activities that can reach a different part of a person. So if you like hiking, getting outside, yoga, being social, biking, or art, you’ll be able to find it here. And we’ll still have mountaineering for those who find their solace and power in that.
    We are a place where you can come together with like-minded people in recovery or those who support a sober lifestyle. During COVID we are offering online activities and small scale hikes.
    To get involved, check out our website or contact me through social media or email and I’ll help you find the best way to be involved.”

    Help 50 people struggling with Substance Use Disorder to live a healthier 2021

    To achieve this we need 50 people to invest $35/month.
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    “We do recover. That’s the greatest thing.”

    Nature is healthy. It allows us to see that a lot of things are so much bigger than us.
    It puts us at ease to be able to see the different things we are surrounded with that are not screaming back at us.
    Today, I’m out of addiction and into recovery, and we do recover. That’s the greatest thing.
    Relationships are important because we were not put on this world to do life alone. Through struggle, through laughter, through crying, through daily activity… That’s what it’s about.

    Help 50 people struggling with Substance Use Disorder to live a healthier 2021

    To achieve this we need 50 people to invest $35/month.

    Help Us Help Others!

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    “I don’t believe in sitting on the sidelines”

    “I don’t believe in sitting on the sidelines when I see our communities being torn apart by folks because they have to live on the streets.

    People don’t suffer from substance abuse because they’re homeless. They’re homeless because they suffer from substance abuse.

    The big problem is that folks coming out of their treatment programs really fall off a cliff. They go back to their same apartment, their same job, their same associates… So what Recovery Recovery Beyond does is provide ongoing support.

    I am so passionate about this because I’ve seen really good lives get wrecked by substance abuse. Seeing the transformation was too much to let go.

    Help 50 people struggling with Substance Use Disorder to live a healthier 2021

    To achieve this we need 50 people to invest $35/month.

    Help Us Help Others!

  • Program Spotlights

    Opportunities Abound With New Growth At Recovery Beyond…

    For almost 4 years we have embarked on a monumental effort to transform the way we approach addiction-related illness in our society. The results move us every day.

    When Mark Ursino and I began talking about the Climbing Out Of Homelessness program and transform it into a viable non-profit to tackle addiction recovery, I couldn’t have imagined the journey we were about to take. All along it was a labor of love and an effort to bring the organization to a place of maturity where it could grow, thrive, and serve more people than we ever could have initially imagined. That day we envisioned has now arrived and it’s time for a full-time team to take us to the next level.

    Over the last few months, the board has embarked on interviewing and hiring a new full-time team to take our programs to the next level. I am beyond pleased to introduce you to our new CEO and Executive Director, Brooke Russell who will lead the team which now consists of Maury Robertson as Director of Investments and Partnerships and Jess Villarreal as Senior Program Manager. These dynamic individuals are beyond excited for this adventure and are already making waves and translating their ideas into meaningful program enhancements. To learn more about our new team members, please visit our Team Page on the website.

    Nate Lanting will be moving to new adventures in his life and career starting in June. For the last 3 1/2 years, he has served as our fearless Program Manager, leading all operational duties and ensuring that a nurturing and caring environment is in place through all of our programs and activities. He has made the monumental climb both literally and figuratively, over-and-over. His work and dedication to building a robust volunteer network and a pack of enthusiastic supporters have made this organization what it is today. His mentorship has meant meaningful sobriety for many individuals who have gone through the program. He will be greatly missed, but will always have a place and a home at Recovery Beyond where we know his legacy will leave a lasting impact.

    As I move into retirement, I will continue to serve on the board of Recovery Beyond. I look forward to being a source of guidance and support as this amazing team ramps up their efforts and brings us to a whole new playing field of non-profit growth.

    As we make this leap forward, I want to issue a challenge to you. A challenge to reach deep, even in this difficult and uncertain times, and make a contribution to this worthy cause. In honor of Nate, myself, or a loved one who has been impacted by the ravaging effects of addiction-related illnesses.

    Please join me in welcoming Brooke, Maury, and Jess to the team. The future is bright for this organization and with expanded programming, the future will be bright for so many seeking a pathway out of a life of addiction and towards lasting recovery.

    It has been more than a pleasure to serve as the CEO and Executive Director of Recovery Beyond these past 4 years. Thank you to Mark Ursino for placing so much trust and financial support behind our efforts and for allowing us to make the bold and innovative leaps to creating the non-profit we see today.

    May we continue to build a Community of Compassion that truly helps those with substance use disorders, find a path back to fully functioning lives.

    In peace,

    Gina Haines
    Executive Director, Recovery Beyond

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