March 2018                      Recovery Story of the Month

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The Recovery Story of The Month is Dr. Mary Roberson. Dr. Mary Roberson has celebrated long term recovery for over 25 years and has a proficient career in the Behavior Health Field. As the first African American Managing Director for Nicasa Behavioral Health Services (retired) in Lake County, Il., she had oversight on several evidenced based federal projects (SAMHSA Grants) and served on multiple state and local boards.

She is a U. S. Navy veteran and completed the Great Lakes ATTC Communities of Color: Training of Trainers (ToT) and Next Generation of Leaders, as well as the 2013 SAMHSA Women’s Addiction Services Leadership Institute (WASLI).

Dr. Roberson first published in the Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly (July 2012) with her article “Identity Development’s Impact on Peer Supported Recovery among African American Women.”

She advocates for recovery with several organizations and is active within the local and national 12 step communities. She strongly believes that recovery is possible for all who seeks it. Dr. Roberson continues to serve her country by working with veterans and family members seeking recovery.

                           February 2018                      Recovery Story of the Month

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The Recovery Story Of The Month features Pam Frazier who celebrates several decades of recovery and has had a stellar career in the addictions field working in the capacity of Counselor, Supervisor and Director. She is the first and one of three African Americans to receive the prestigious Addictions Professional of The year award in Illinois.

Pam is the creator of Addictions Counselor Day, celebrated by thousands of counselors nationwide on  September 20th (annually). She is Director of N' The Spirit Transformational Living, a Recovery Home for women which serves as a model for the nation. Through this program Pam continues to demonstrate a commitment to recovery. 

                          January  2018                          Recovery Story of the Month

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The recovery story of the month is Cris Carter. After achieving his childhood goal of becoming a professional football player Cris Carter was released by the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL after failing 3 drug tests. His drugs of choice were cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy. Carter decided that he did not want his career to end this way! The Minnesota Vikings signed him to a contract as he focused on addictions recovery. His pathway of recovery integrated exercise, spirituality and religion. Carter had his best years as a professional football player while in recovery. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

                        December 2017                      Recovery Story of the Month

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Wayne Williams celebrates 25 years of recovery this year. He is proof that life gets better in recovery. He increased his education in recovery, earning an associates degree in Mental Health Counseling and a Bachelors Degree in Social Work. Wayne is a certified addictions counselor who has dedicated his life to helping others. His two decades of work in behavioral health has enabled him to serve numerous populations, including: recipients of public assistance; persons with mental illness and addictions.

Grateful for his recovery, Wayne volunteers his time for a number of causes. As a volunteer for The Orrington Institute he mentors youth. Wayne is also a Board Member for The National Alliance for The Empowerment of the Formerly Incarcerated and a volunteer rites of passages facilitator.

                         November 2017                        Recovery Story of the Month

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Award winning actress/comedian Whoppi Goldberg describes rock bottom. "I ended up sitting on a bed for 3 or 4 days. Scared there was something under the bed. I wet the bed, I pooped the bed. I was scared. I hit bottom.

Whoopi achieved a great deal of success in recovery. She is one of a few entertainers who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award.

                            October 2017                             Recovery Story of the Month

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When one looks at the history of 12 step groups you quickly discover that Lois Wilson, the wife of the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous Bill Wilson was not in addictions recovery (although she founded ALANON), nor was the wife of Jimmy K, the founder of Narcotics Anonymous. Thus, in the early history of recovery mutual aide groups there is no blueprint as to how a married couple, both of whom are in recovery, maintain their marriage and recovery simultaneously. 

The recovery story of the month features Benneth and Walonza Lee. They have been in recovery and married for over 30 years. Over the years they have helped thousands of people in recovery maintain their recovery and develop healthy relationships in recovery. They have accomplished this work in their professional lives as addictions counselors, trainers, consultants administrators and University educators and in their personal lives as individuals so grateful for their recovery that they have spent decades helping others. Their recovery journey has taken them all over the world. In a trip to Ghana West Africa, they held hands as a married couple and walked together through The Door of No Return To Africa. This was significant in that the mental aspect of Slavery was geared to teach Africans enslaved in America to hate their African Roots to the point that they would never want to return to Africa and those enslaved were never allowed to marry.

Benneth and Walonza were also the featured speakers for the newly formed Married Couples in Recovery. Thanks to both of you for helping to create a blueprint for how to stay married and in recovery in the modern history of addictions recovery.

                        September 2017                                 Recovery Story of the Month

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Growing up in New Orleans under the care of his grandmother, Henry Abraham was attracted to what he ruefully calls, “the hustler’s lifestyle.” By age eight, he was drinking alcohol and using drugs; started selling drugs on the street by the age of 12; and by age 18 was a millionaire, a high-profile drug dealer and a cocaine addict. “It’s amazing I wasn’t shot or arrested by the police,” he says today, having just celebrated 36 years of continuous sobriety. All of that came to an explosive end on the South Side of Chicago where he was arrested by the D.E.A. and local law enforcement. “Somehow, I got the break of a lifetime. In court, the Judge ordered me into residential treatment, where I came to understand how much I had hurt myself and those who loved me. During this time I was also witnessing the lengthy incarceration and premature deaths of several acquaintances in the drug game. I began to understand that if I would transform my thinking I could ultimately transform my life and become drug and alcohol free.” Upon his release from treatment, Abraham became a certified member of the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Professional Certification Association, a best-selling author and sought-after speaker, helping thousands of individuals overcome their addictions. As the chapter lead for YPR-Chicago, IL, he will be spearheading a program funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services to represent YPR at the Illinois Association of Behavioral Health conference in Naperville on September 7-8 during Recovery Month; organizing pro-social activities and a leadership training for the Chicago chapter.

Noting that substance use disorder affects individuals “from Park Avenue to park benches; from Yale to jail,” Abraham says his way of giving back is to bring awareness and education to the millions of people and their families who are suffering from what has become a global epidemic. YPR is proud of the personal and professional accomplishments of Henry Abraham and delighted to welcome him to the program team!


                            August 2017                           Recovery Story of the Month

The Recovery Story of the Month is Richard Black who is in long term recovery (over 30 years). A former Black Panther, according to Richard, "The Black Panthers actually did a lot of good in Black neighborhoods. We fought against police brutality, we created the free breakfast club to make sure no kid in the community went to school hungry and we made sure that every black child was able to get their immunization shots. In many of the neighborhoods where we operated gang activity, drug use, prostitution and crime decreased." With tears in his eyes, Richard went on to state, "As soon as the Panthers were infiltrated and destroyed, all these problems in the community increased."

"Contrary to what the media said we stood for something! We had purpose. Many panthers became drug addicts when the organization was dismantled. Including me. " In recovery, Richard continued to give back to the community. He worked in the Mental Health field for a decade, became a certified addictions counselor and helped African Americans recover for nearly two decades. Throughout his 3 decades of recovery he has also done volunteer service work to support the recovery of others. I am proud to call Richard Black my brother in law.


                               July 2017                                        Recovery Story of the Month

The precursors of heroin addiction for legendary Rock-in -Roll Hall of Fame entertainer Ray Charles (September 23, 1930-June 10, 2004) was childhood poverty, the accidental drowning death of his younger brother whom Ray blamed on himself, the death of his father when Ray was 10 years old and the death of his mother when he was 15 years old.

Charles used heroin for several decades. His recovery was initiated in 1966 after a drug related arrest. If he had not survived his addiction, the world would have been cheated out of the opportunity to hear one of the greatest entertainers in American history Perform. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Charles the 10th greatest entertainer of all time. In 2008 they selected Charles as the second greatest singer of all time. Click on the link below and hear Ray sing Georgia On My Mind, the official song of the state of Georgia. In 1979, in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement, as a form of reconciliation, Charles performed the song before the Georgia General Assembly. After the performance The Assembly adopted it as the Official State Song.

In June of 2016, Sheila Raye Charles, the daughter of Ray Charles died of Cancer. She is featured as the Recovery Story of the Month August 2016 in this exhibit. Scroll down to read her recovery story and hear her sing one of her fathers ballets. At the time of her death she was in long term recovery. This father-daughter recovery story represents hope that the multi-generational cycle of addiction can be broken.



                                                                 June 2017                            Recovery Story of the Month


The recovery story of the month is Grammy Hall of Fame singer Johnny Mathis. He is grateful to  First Lady Nancy Reagan for his recovery. " I was talking to Nancy Reagan at a wedding reception. She asked if I always drank so much? I said yes and she said, well don't you think it's bad for you? I said yes, but I don't know how to stop. The next thing I knew she's talking to the Chief of Staff and I'm on a plane to a rehab center. That was 30 years ago. I haven't had a drink since. "

Listen to Johnny Mathis sing a duet with Denise Williams.






                              May 2017                              Recovery Story of the Month

Our recovery story of the month for May 2017 is William Christopher.  He is an inspiration in recovery! As an entrepreneur he has developed successful businesses in the fashion, music and restaurant industries. William is the co-founder of Married Couples in Recovery.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


April 2017
Recovery Story of the Month

Our April 2017 recovery story of the month is John Coltrane (September 23, 1926, to July 17, 1967). Jazz Saxophonist John Coltrane is known as one of the innovators of Jazz music. In the 1950's he became addicted to heroin and alcohol. His substance use quickly impacted his work performance and decreased his opportunities. His recovery was initiated in 1957 due to a "spiritual awaking." "I asked God to let me make people happy through music."

March 2017
Recovery Story of the Month

Along with actor Robert Downey Jr., Major League Baseball star Darryl Strawberry was the " poster child for addiction ." In 1999 Darryl was suspended from baseball due to cocaine use, the media chronicled his addiction, relapses, incarceration, probation violations, etc. Darryl has been in recovery for 17 years. He is the founder of the Darryl Strawberry Foundation, an organization that helps children living with autism and the Darryl Strawberry Recovery Center which helps individuals with addictions recovery.

Straw: Finding my Way  by Darryl Strawberry

The memoir of star baseball player Darryl Strawberry that tells the story of the ups and downs of his life, from growing up in Crenshaw, Los Angeles, to major league Baseball all-star and world series champion to his suspension from major league baseball due to cocaine use and his eventual addictions recovery.

Febuary 2017
Recovery Story of the Month

Thomas " Hollywood" Henderson is a retired NFL Football Player who became addicted to cocaine, painkillers, and alcohol during his football career. He was traded several times because of his addiction. Following a prison stint, he has been in recovery since 1983. In 2000 he won 28 million dollars in the Texas State Lottery. He used the money to open a youth center in East Austin, Texas where he grew up and to support philanthropic causes. He does presentations on addictions recovery nationwide.

Hollywood has written two books, the first, "Out of Control: Confessions of an NFL Casualty " tells the story of his extravagant life. On and off the football field and active addiction. The second book, " In control: The Rebirth of An NFL Legend " describes his resurrection, recovery, and life as a community activist and philanthropist. (Click on the cover of the book to be directed to amazon for book purchase)

Yes I'm Still Clean- Part 1

Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson shares recovery story from alcoholism and crack cocaine.
(YouTube by Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson)

January 2017
Recovery Story of the Month

 Photo by WBUR

Photo by WBUR

John Lucas, a former NBA player and Coach has been in recovery for over 30 years. He is founder of John Lucas Enterprises, an organization that helps develop emerging athletes and provides aftercare services for NBA and NFL athletes seeking addictions recovery.


Winning a Day at a Time by John Lucas

The book tells the story of his being asked to leave the NBA after years of active addiction,  his recovery journey and success as coach of the NBA San Antonio Spurs.


December 2016
Recovery Story of the Month


Rock- in- roll Hall of Fame Radio DJ Herb Kent died October 22, 2016. At the time of his death he was in long term recovery. Herb is in the Guinness Book of World records as the longest working DJ in U.S. radio history. He is credited with coining the term "dusties " to refer to old soul and rhythm and blues music. In the 1980's and 90's Herb used his gift as a DJ to play music for dance parties at Martha Washington Addictions Treatment Center in Chicago where clients and Alumni learned to party drug free. Herb will be missed!


The Cool Gent: The Nine Lives of Radio Legend Herb Kent by Herb Kent and David Smallwood with Foreword by Mayor Richard M. Daley

Known as the Cool Gent, the Kind of the Dusties, and the Mayor of Bronzeville, Herb Kent is one of radio's most illustrious and legendary stars. This is his autobiography which details both the high and low points of Herb's life while providing a vivid picture of black music, culture, and personalities from the 1950s to today

Stage Left: Radio Legend Herb Kent Interview (YouTube video by Stage Left)

November 2016
Recovery Story of the Month

For the month of November we will be featuring the story of Benneth Lee. Benneth is a former gang leader who went from death row to addictions professional of the year in the state of Illinois. Benneth is in long term recovery and he has spent the last thirty years traveling internationally to help service providers understand how to work effectively with gang affiliated clients in the criminal justice system with substance use disorders. He is the executive director of The National Alliance for the Empowerment of the Formally Incarcerated. Click on the link below to view his organizations website.


October 2016
Recovery Story of the Month

For the month of October we will be featuring the story of Jolinda Wade, mother of NBA Basketball star Dwayne Wade, is in long term recovery after years of drug use and drug selling. She served as a minister while completing a prison sentence. She is currently an Ordained Baptist Minister.


The book Divine Grace Behind the Walls by Jolinda Wade is the story of her path to GOD and the freedom that the Lord provided. The book follows her path into the ministry and the true meaning of love. (click on the cover of the book for link to purchase on amazon)


Jolinda Wade: 'He Can Bring You Through' by The 700 Club

Jolinda Wade shares her life story of addiction, incarceration, and deliverance. (YouTube video by The 700 Club)

September 2016
Recovery Story of the Month

This month we will be featuring the life story of Denise Stokes. Denise is a motivational speaker, spoken word artist, and author whose life story has touched thousands. Today Denise uses story of homelessness and her sudden diagnosis of HIV at a young age to empower and motivate others.



From the Crack House to the White House: Turning Obstacles Into Opportunities by Denise Stokes

From the Crack House to the White House: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities is the story of Denise Stokes and the long journey she has had to overcome. To look at Denise's amazing stride you would not think she outran death for over 30 years.The beginning of Denise's life was filled with pain and sorrow however Denise found a way to take the very pain and use that energy to encourage others. This book is her journey. (click on the cover of the book for link to purchase on amazon)



Denise Stokes on 106 & Park

Author and motivational speaker Denise Stokes makes a special World AIDS Day appearance on BET's hit show, 106 & Park. (YouTube video by Denise Stokes)


August 2016
Recovery Story of the Month

For the month of August, 2016 we will be featuring the story of Sheila Raye Charles. Sheila is an American singer-songwriter and daughter of Ray Charles and Sandra Jean Betts. Although Sheila was surrounded by peolpe she was overwhelmed by loneliness. Those who she thought she could trust ended up failing her leading her to substance use. Now sober, Sheila has published a book about her life and struggles and today motivates others to live a sober life.



Behind the Shades: Hope Beyond the Darkness by Sheila Raye Charles

Although Sheila Raye Charles was surrounded by people, she was overwhelmed with loneliness. Those she should have been able to trust had failed her; life itself seemed to mock her attempts to overcome not only her own past but also the choices of those who had lived before her. Sometimes it seemed there was no hope beyond these shadows she could never seem to escape...(click on the cover of the book for link to purchase on amazon)


Sheila Raye Charles and Forever Ray- Unchain my Heart
(YouTube video by Bobby Deitch)