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Happy Thanksgiving: A reflection on gratitude, from the Cornerstone family

Thanksgiving Cornerstone

Gratitude is an ephemeral emotion that ebbs and flows like tides on a sand-scoured beach.

As an organization that employs and treats addicts and alcoholics, we understand keenly just how important it is to maintain an “attitude of gratitude.” By the same token, we also know that there are moments when it’s in short supply. When and where we feel it is as inexplicable as the circumstances in which it visits or leave us: We can be living in our cars with barely enough money to afford gas to get from one 12 Step meeting to the next, but we’re still overwhelmed with gratitude because we’re no longer getting high. By the same token, we can be surrounded by friends and family and the material trappings of lives we’ve built up from the ashes and still feel restless, irritable and discontent.

Fortunately, we have a cornucopia of tools provided by various recovery programs, therapies and individuals that can help us adjust our outlook and reclaim our gratitude. The key, of course, is willingness, and let’s face it: There are some times when we just want to stew in negativity because the idea of changing how we feel seems too exhausting.

The longer we stay clean and sober, however, the more we discover that gratitude is a state of mind in which we dwell a little longer every time we’re there. We may never reach the Zen-like levels of peace that we associate with monastic existence, but that’s OK. We’re only human, after all, but within the scope of our frail humanity, we feel most connected with the divine when we express the gratitude we have for this beautiful life with which we’ve been blessed.

In that regard, we’ve asked some of the staff members here at Cornerstone of Recovery and Stepping Stone to Recovery one simple question for this Thanskgiving: What are you grateful for? When you gather with family or friends (or co-workers, because the recovery process is ongoing here at Cornerstone and Stepping Stone), for what will you give thanks this holiday?

Here’s what they told us …

Cornerstone Thanksgiving

The Cornerstone family reflects on gratitude: Clockwise from upper left, Lora Love, Amy Sawyer, Daniel Burtch, Nancy Dabbs, Webster Bailey, Herb Piercy IV, Bill Lee, Rose Schulstadt, Robin Barnett, Sherri Orlewicz, Leslie Basler and John Hood. Top middle (to the right of John): Susie Silcox. Bottom middle (to the left of Herb, above Rose): Sara Ridner.

Webster Bailey

Executive Director of Business Development and Marketing

I’m thankful for relationships and community. I’m thankful for second chances. I’m thankful for my relationship with God that feeds me and sustains me in every area of my life. And specifically related to Cornerstone, I’m thankful for everyone I get to work with — patients and coworkers.

Robin Barnett

Therapist, Stepping Stone to Recovery

I’m thankful for finally knowing my worth and having a healthy self-esteem in who I am physically, emotionally, mentally and, above all things, spiritually. After 42 years of co-dependence, approval-seeking and low self-worth that led to drug abuse, I can say I celebrate recovery from all of it for almost four years now. I once was lost, but God….

Leslie Basler

Counselor, Assessment and Orientation/Medical Detox

When I think about where I have been and where I am today, I am overcome with gratitude for the women who welcomed me into recovery, my recovery program and the God of my understanding whom I came to know as a result of the Steps. May God keep me forever grateful and mindful of what I need to continue doing and why.

Daniel Burtch

Newcomer’s Program Coordinator

As a person in recovery, I am grateful to be sober. Without my sobriety, I feel I would not have everything else that I am grateful for, such as family, friends, my work family, my health and most of all my relationship with God.

Nancy Dabbs

Newcomer’s Program Manager

I just had a thankful moment — not eavesdropping, but I was in a stall in the ladies restroom and overheard two female patients discussing how good they feel and how grateful they are to have 14 and 16 days clean, respectively. It was just a conversation, but I think of how hard it was for them to ask for help, to get into treatment … what their lives have been like, what consequences they have experienced or are now facing. What was also amazing was when I came out of the stall to wash my hands, I noticed the women were very different from each other.  One was petite, looked “professional” and wore fancy, expensive clothing; the other looked like a lifelong tomboy — fashion and style were not her priority. They were sharing a common bond. It was beautiful. And to see this at work on a regular basis, well, it never gets old! I love it!

John Hood

Executive Vice President

I am most thankful for the relationship I have with my Higher Power. Without that relationship, I have no other relationships. Everything I have is a gift from a loving, compassionate and grace-filled God. Without that relationship, I am still lost in the proverbial ditch, wondering why everything is so messed up, blaming everything and everyone for my mistakes and bad decisions and choices.

Bill Lee

Assistant Program Manager, Young Adult/Recovery Renewal

All I can help with is one of my major gratitudes, from Guy Clark: “So spread your arms, take a breath and trust your cape! I’m grateful that I can now do this!”

Lora Love

Therapeutic Assistant, Stepping Stone to Recovery

I just want to share a quote that is beautiful, because it’s the truth: “Blessed are the ones who share their blessings.”

Sherri Orlewicz

Family Care Counselor, Assessment and Orientation

I am the most thankful for my sobriety and my strong relationship with my higher power, who I call God. My entire life, I was searching for serenity, peace and to just feel a part of something. Once I was introduced to the thought process that there is an easier, softer way to live life today, I have felt alive inside. I am thankful beyond measure that I get to work at Cornerstone of Recovery, where we are truly a family and are blessed to interact with patients daily that are seeking to better themselves. Today, I have so much thankfulness that I have a loving family; meaningful friendships; furry children; a warm home with food on the table; my soulmate, Chuck; and the willingness to love and give back to others. On Nov. 26, 2014, I was preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving in treatment — little did I know that by staying through the holidays and continuing to work on myself that I would have so many holidays to come. Life is a journey, not a destination and that is so true and will continue to be the quote I am the most grateful for.

Herb Piercy IV

Therapist, Intensive Outpatient Program

I’m thankful for genuine connection with my daughter. It has been so amazing to be able to be present in her life and see her grow into a wonderful young person. My friends at work really help add value to my life, too. More than anything, I am thankful for my wife, who has stood by me from the time I returned broken from the shores of Africa until I recovered from my own personal hell and made it back to our family.

Sara Ridner

Trauma Therapist

I am thankful to have the privilege of working to help our patients understand and begin healing from trauma. The chance to do trauma-focused work has helped me better understand myself and be able to support friends and family in need. Enjoying my work has also added satisfaction to my life, for which I am very grateful!

Amy Sawyer

Extended Care Intensive Outpatient Program Counselor

Last night, I had a patient relapse. We were outside, and she completely fell apart into a storm of tears. As I held her in the cool air, she kept saying, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I can’t stop using.” The moment itself brought back the feelings of despair that I once had, when I constantly felt like my life was a thread away from unraveling into nothing. This year, I am thankful for those who are hurting and need to be loved. I am thankful to be an example of recovery. I am thankful for Cornerstone and second, third and fourth chances.

Rose Schulstadt

LPN, Nursing

Thanksgiving reminds me of how thankful I truly am, for the many blessings of being able to care for our patients to working with wonderful staff. I love being able to come to work smiling and leave knowing I have done my best. Working at Cornerstone reminds me of where I once was, how easy it is to slip back into that life that I once lived, but how awesome it is to have people at Cornerstone lift us up when we need it most. Thank you, and God bless!

Susie Silcox


The things I am most thankful for in life are, first and foremost, my Higher Power. I am thankful for my recovery, my sponsor and a network of strong women in recovery who hold me accountable. I’m thankful for the 12 Steps and the freedom they’ve given me. I’m thankful for the two years I was able to spend at Oxford House, but I’m also incredibly thankful that I just signed a lease for a house. I’m thankful for my 14-year-old daughter, and I’m incredibly grateful that she’ll soon be living with me full-time. I’m thankful for a job I enjoy. I’m thankful for second, third and fourth chances. Three short years ago, I was living in whatever dilapidated houses I could find without running water, heat, food or electricity, with no money, no job, no car and no hope. After my eighth overdose, I couldn’t find one single person willing to pick me up from the hospital. Today, I have a car, a driver’s license, car insurance, a roof over my head to call my own … I have people in my life who are there when I need them. I’m able to be a mom, a friend, a sponsee, and a sponsor. I’m employable today. Words cannot ever truly convey the depth of my gratitude today!

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