Alumni return to successful drug treatment program
After decades of searching for fulfillment, Winston-Salem resident Ken Bower believes he has found his rightful place in the world.
Bower was tapped as program director at The Fellowship Home – a long term substance abuse recovery facility for men – a month ago, and says the job has filled a long held void in his life.
“I knew something was missing but I didn’t know how to fill it, and I’m thinking this (job) might be exactly what I needed,” said Bower, a former college professor and attorney. “…I think this is what I was waiting for and I didn’t even know it.”
Bower enjoyed a successful career in Texas before he succumbed to addiction. Through The Fellowship Home, the Clemmons resident says he has discovered a new sense of purpose and hopes to find success again.
Bower is not alone. Many Fellowship Home residents – both current and former – echoed similar sentiments Saturday, during the facility’s annual Alumni Reunion. City native
Terry Browder, who serves as house manager and cook, says coming to The Fellowship Home a year ago marked an important turning point in his life. After nursing an alcohol addiction for 30 years, Brower, who is expecting his first grandchild, came to The Fellowship Home determined to make a change.
“I got clean in August of last year,” said the Parkland High School alumnus. “It was kind of like a spiritual awakening for me. I got saved when I was 53 … and that just didn’t fit into my life anymore.”
Brower, a former restaurant manager, had completed another recovery program, but says he relapsed almost immediately. Thanks to The Fellowship Home, which currently houses 10 other residents, Brower says he feels optimistic that this time, his recovery will be permanent.
“It’s wonderful here. I’m around guys who are serious about recovery, because we take people here that want to be here, not just need to be here,” he said. “…It’s keeping me sober because I know it’s the right thing to do. If I go back to drinking, I will die. I know that for a fact.”
Down the road, Brower hopes to expand upon his training as a CNA, by getting certified as a substance abuse counselor, but for now, the 55-year-old says he is content to focus on the task at hand: looking out for his friends and fellow residents.
“This is one of I would say the top five recovery houses in North Carolina. They have a very good success rate, and I want to keep it that way,” he said of the home, which is celebrating its 51st year in operation. “I’m a very big proponent of The Fellowship Home and what they do and I want to be a part of carrying that tradition on.”
The Sept. 21 reunion, which drew dozens of attendees, was a testament to the home’s successful track record, said Mayor Allen Joines.
“We’re just so grateful for the work that you and your staff do here to help turn around lives and improve the quality of life of the citizens of Winston-Salem,” Joines told Fellowship Home Director Thom Elmore. “You’re one of the reasons we’re able to say that we’re a great city.”
Elmore, a former resident who has led the agency since 1996, said the reunion is a prime opportunity to celebrate the home’s successes and encourage those who are still on the path to recovery.
“It is the opportunity to revisit our mission, to talk about why we’re here, to keep folks connected to the home and to the history,” said the Howard University alumnus. “For current residents, it gives them not only additional hope, but it gives them an example of where they could be.”
Former resident Greg Ward’s life was one of the success stories Fellowship Home leaders highlighted during the reunion. Ward, who stayed at the home from 2010-2012, was lauded for his selfless service to others and staunch support of those in recovery. Ward, a construction worker, credits the home with helping him to get on the right path.
“I’m grateful for this house and the staff and all. I can’t honestly say where I’d be if it wasn’t for it,” he declared. “This has just been a blessing.”
Morris “Russ” Russell, who stayed in the home between 2007 and 2010, was also one of the home’s success stories before he says he relapsed and found himself unwittingly “back in a dark place that cost me everything I had worked for over a five year period.” Russell, who has since returned to the Fellowship Home, said he is thankful to be in a place that believes in second chances.
“I’m grateful to be alive,” he remarked. “I’m grateful to be where I know people love me and I can get the help that I need.”
The Fellowship Home has served 1,300 residents since opening its doors in 1962.
For more information about The Fellowship Home, visit www.thefellowshiphome.org or call 336-727-1084.