Recovery Month is observed every September to raise awareness about substance use treatment and to celebrate the gains of people in recovery. The Cayman Islands Government is holding a series of events throughout September to highlight the services available and to destigmatize the process of recovery.
Every month is recovery month at The Bridge Foundation and Beacon Farms, sister organisations offering a continuum of care to Caymanians recovering from alcohol and drug abuse. The Bridge Foundation is a halfway house offering safe, secure and supervised accommodation, while Beacon Farms offers jobs in agriculture to Caymanians rebuilding their lives after addiction.
“We provide the support, structure and skills people need to restore their confidence and rejoin the community,” says Bud Volinsky, Executive Director at The Bridge Foundation and board director at Beacon Farms. “Sober living is not easy amongst the distractions and triggers of daily life. Our mission is to ease the transition back to a healthy and productive life as responsible members of society.”
Established in 2012, The Bridge Foundation has the capacity to support up to 12 residents at Anchor House in West Bay. Residents are typically referred after completing treatment at Caribbean Haven, or by Probation Services or the Drug courts, and are required to attend 12-step meetings during their 6-month stay.
“One of the greatest challenges for people in recovery is finding gainful employment, especially in a small community when their past history of addiction may be widely known,” says Volinksy who received a British Empire Medal this year for the positive impact of his work in the Cayman Islands community. “This was the inspiration behind Beacon Farms which offers people the chance to learn new skills and earn wages in a safe, sober environment.”
While many Beacon Farms employees continue to reside at Anchor House, there is also an option to live on site in the property’s original farmhouse, set on 34-acres in North Side. Jobs on the farm range from planting and harvesting crops, to equipment operation and maintenance.
Sasha Appleby joined Beacon Farms three years ago and is now their administrative manager and science officer. She is proud of the encouragement and opportunities the programme gives to people wanting to turn their lives around.
“We are doing our small part to help recovering addicts become useful, trustworthy people who can hold their heads up in public without shame,” she said. “It’s not always easy working with recovering addicts, but being in recovery myself, I appreciate the opportunity I was given and would like to see others have that chance as well.
“Beacon Farms does not have to be the final stop for our employees. We hope that those who have other interests and goals will find the employment that truly satisfies them. However, this requires other businesses to take a chance on them. I hope that sometime soon, the stigma attached to those in recovery lessens and we can openly deal with this disease in a more compassionate way.”
The continuum of care provided by The Bridge Foundation and Beacon Farms has a positive impact not just on the lives of individuals in the programme, but on the wider community too as it helps reduce recidivism. The chance of a relapse and negative behaviour associated with substance abuse is much lower with the support provided by transitional housing and employment.
Originated as part of the National Security Council’s crime reduction strategy, The Bridge Foundation is partly funded by the Cayman Islands Government. Both The Bridge and Beacon Farms are registered non-profit organisations initially established with generous support from The Haugh Foundation. Both are seeking additional financial support from the community to continue the valuable work they are doing changing lives for the better.