“He’s an inspiration” – Center of Hope Client celebrating 9 months free from alcohol
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Today is a big day in the life of Lionel Brown, 49, of Riverton. On August 24, 2016, nine months ago, Brown was incarcerated at the Fremont County Detention Center in Lander on another intoxication charge. “It was the bottom for me, I prayed for help to become sober. I got tired of the cycle of ending up in jail.” He said he asked himself if this was the life he wanted, that is being in and out of jail. “I knew it would be hard work, and now the rewards are great,” he said.
On that fateful day in 2016, Brown decided he needed to help himself and asked for help from the Volunteers of America’s Center of Hope in Riverton.
“I credit VOA with helping me, and they have a lot,” he said. “I’m so grateful, they helped me every step of the way. I listened to their words and I respect them.” Brown had effusive praise for Center staff members Barbara, Shelley and Rebecca for their support.
After his social detox in Riverton, Brown traveled to the VOA’s Sheridan Treatment Center where another staff member, Judith, “helped me clear my mind. I got rid of the road blocks in my head. Now I can deal with the obstacles in my life. I feel like I can get to where I want to be,” he said.
“Lionel is an inspiration to us,” said Center of Hope Program Director Shelley Mbonu. “We’re very proud of him. You know, sometimes it takes five or more times for treatment to be effective. It depends on when a client decides it is time to get help.”
At Sheridan, Brown said he participated in VOA’s Native American Wellbriety track. There he participated in various meetings including weekly sweat lodges, smudging, talking circles, grief and loss support, relapse prevention and with VOA staff and a clinician. He also worked on arts projects and two of his custom dream catchers are hanging in the Riverton center.
“Our Native American Wellbriety track is the only one in the country that is White Bison Certified,” said Skye Heeren, VOA’s Wyoming Director of Development. “It is not limited to just Native Americans, any client can participate.” She also noted that VOA has the traditional tracks of Alcoholics Anonymous programming and a Christian-based program.
From living on the streets and crashing at the center’s detox center just for a place to sleep, Brown now has his own apartment, in a new building, which he is very proud of. He showed photos of his new home and how he’s improved the look of the place. He also reached his goal of gaining employment. He’s working at the Wind River Hotel and Casino.
“The Northern Arapaho Tribe and the Casino have been very supportive of what we’re doing here. They are great partners to us,” Mbonu said.
The Riverton man acknowledged that he will always be in recovery, “but with support, things will come out in a positive way. I like myself now, I’m very grateful. I know I can go further.”