Promises Behavioral Health is proud to announce Veronica R. as the winner of the Fall 2020 scholarship! The scholarship\u2019s purpose is to help support students who want to advance their studies and achievements academically. Through this opportunity, Promises hopes to give others the chance to shine in the world of recovery and show that you have furthered your healing process. The Winning Essay \u201cI was 18 years old when I attempted to take my own life after years of abusing alcohol and drugs, and found myself being admitted to an in-patient rehab facility a few days later. Back then, when I was hopeless and desperate, I could never have imagined that, almost 18 years later, I would be in a position to help others like me, or that I would have the wonderfully rich life I have today. I have remained sober from all mind and mood altering substances since that fateful day in October 2002, and my recovery has borne a deep desire to give hope to addicts and alcoholics that are still suffering. That desire has only grown with time, and in 2019 it finally took shape in the form of a nonprofit organization called Lighthouse Recovery, and the vision that I have for it. Obtaining an Associates Degree in Addiction Counselling and Treatment, and ultimately my CADC accreditation, plays a crucial role in my plans to expand the services that the organization offers. Currently, Lighthouse Recovery provides scholarships to highly motivated individuals who have completed a treatment program but cannot afford to stay at a sober living facility. In addition to the financial support, we provide education and guidance to addicts and their families as they embark on their journeys to recovery. My goal is to grow the organization to establish and run our own affordable, safe and dignified sober residences in north-suburban Chicagoland, and be able to offer our residents in-house counselling. Going back to school to obtain my Associates Degree and CADC accreditation is essential for me to achieve these goals. A CADC certification will not only bolster my credibility in the industry and enable me to provide counselling; I am also hoping to gain the skills I need to manage the not for profit more effectively and run our residential facilities safely and smoothly. Unfortunately, my application for Federal financial aid was rejected because I already have a Bachelor's Degree in Communications, which I completed in 2009, and have been denied other grants for that same reason, or because of my age. That is why I am seeking the scholarship from Promises Behavioral Health. If I am not awarded this scholarship, my husband and I will have to decide whether, as a family, we can endure the hardship of assuming the extra costs of my schooling at this time. Even if we decide that the best thing is for me to move forward with my degree, I would definitely have to take fewer courses during the semester to spread out the cost over a longer period of time. This delay would not just affect me personally, but profoundly interfere with our plans for Lighthouse Recovery. Expanding the organization to me is about being better able to serve, reach and help more members of an already under-served and vulnerable group that is growing at an alarming rate. This goal is near and dear to me on a very personal level. The problem of drug and alcohol abuse has never had the kind of national attention it demands, and that is truer than ever today. The fact of the matter is that addiction (and in saying this I am including the offshoots and consequences associated with it), is still one of the leading causes of death and poverty in our country. The current pandemic, while tragic to be sure, is only the latest event to overshadow the longstanding health crisis that is substance abuse. National addiction trends continue to escalate, due in part to the anxiety, uncertainty and need for isolation that the COVID-19 crisis has foisted on us all. Those who are in the throes of the disease of addiction need a helping, compassionate and caring hand just as much, if not more so, today than before the pandemic struck. As a proud recovering addict, I am choosing to rise to the occasion and step in where local and federal governments have failed, and there is a palpable urgency for this to happen on both a human and existential level. I count my alcoholism and drug addiction - as well as my 18 years of recovery from them - to be profound blessings, and two of my greatest assets. It may be difficult for someone who has not been involved in recovery from an addiction to understand how one can possibly say that such an affliction is a "blessing". The truth is that I treasure my pain and traumatic experiences, not because they define who I am today: I am who I am in spite of these things, and I can share the gift of hope with someone who is just beginning recovery only because I have been able to overcome them: I had the same pain they do, and if I could do it, maybe they can too. This is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility that I take very seriously. Having this financial support would undoubtedly make it easier for me to keep balancing my commitments to recovery, family, personal well-being, work and school. I love the communities I am an active member in. I take great pride in the fact that I have something valuable to contribute to them today, and wish to continue being able to participate actively, both on a personal and professional level. Lighthouse Recovery has already touched the lives of many suffering addicts who have found hope for overcoming their addictions through our individual and family education, guidance and support. Getting The Promises scholarship would certainly give me peace of mind as I take the necessary steps to make my dreams for the organization a reality, while continuing to do the incredibly fulfilling work I\u2019ve been doing. I sincerely appreciate being considered for this generous gift, and assure you it will not be wasted on me!\u201d \tVeronica R. We congratulate Veronica on her award and look forward to the great things she will do in the behavioral health field. For those who are interested, Promises Behavioral Health will begin taking Spring 2020 award essays beginning in January 2021.