Memorial Day BBQ: Celebrating With Community

Memorial Day BBQ: Celebrating With Community | Transcend Recovery Community

Gripping my plastic red cup, as I do at most house parties I’ve ever attended, I survey the scene. To my left, a man dances a familiar dance, flailing his arms like that of a wacky waving inflatable tube man. To my right, a woman dips her toes into water. Waves of laughter fill the pool. I feel my feet begin to tap as if they want to enjoy this moment. Is it possible? Am I actually having a good time at a sober function?

I’m speaking with friends I’ve never met. I’m eating with colleagues from the other houses. I’m partying with Transcend, sober. Beanbags whirl past my ear into corn holes, music lifts me into contentment, and communal hope reassures me that I’m in the right place. I am an average of the people who I surround myself with, and the strangers surrounding me today strive towards graciousness.

Today, America honors heroism in the face of war. The Transcend community unites in gratitude, celebrating our own efforts to serve our community while remembering those who fell battling the disease of addiction. I sip from my plastic red cup, as I do at most house parties I’ve ever attended – but this time there will be no hangover and I can reflect on this memory with gratitude and pride to be part of a safe and supportive sober community.

Memorial Day BBQ: Celebrating With Community | TRC Newsletter

Doing More For Our Mental Health

Doing More For Our Mental Health | Transcend Recovery Community

May marks another mental health awareness month, and as such I would like to take a minute to highlight some healthy decisions that have helped me in my journey of recovery. Alcoholism and addiction are recognized in the DSM V as mental health issues, as are eating disorders and a variety of other emotional problems. But good mental health practices are not just for those of us struggling with glaring issues. As a recovering drug addict, I know that putting my focus on healthier habits improves my mood, emotional stability, and overall quality of life.

Mindfulness has been a tool used by countless cultures over many decades, and is something we learn to practice in Alcoholics Anonymous. I never wanted to meditate, and didn’t believe I could learn. While in rehab I was required to do a labyrinth exercise, and mid-way through our therapist instructed us to “listen to the birds, listen to the sound of the cars.” I realized that I had spent the past ten minutes walking in a circle and was not even aware you could hear the road from where we stood. I was so wrapped up in my own head that I neglected to notice anything around me besides the sight of my shoes moving forward.

That was when I learned to meditate, by listening to the sounds of the world around me and turning my attention outside of myself. Over time I have learned to sit still, and what started as a 3 minute practice has increased little by little. At times 5 minutes feels like torture, at others 15 minutes fly by.

After working the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I began attending therapy again. My therapist frequently asks the following questions:

  • Have you been drinking enough water?
  • Have you been eating vegetables?
  • Have you been sleeping regular hours and for a long enough time period?
  • Have you gotten any exercise?

I never want to think that any of these things will help me, but the more I practice them the more stable I feel. I also find it important to focus on what I can bring to the world around me, instead of what I can take from it.

I try to use these practices in my job to be more available and present. I also use the skills I have learned over the last year and a half to guide the girls into healthier practices by being able to tell them “this is what worked for me,” and really believe it.

Leading With Experience: From Clients To The Corporate Team

Leading With Experience From Clients To The Corporate Team | Transcend Recovery Community

We sit down with longtime friends and coworkers, Becky Newton and Ellen DiResta, to ask them about their recent promotions to Director of Operations and Director of Business Development. In the interview below, they share about their personal and professional growth within Transcend, and the bond they formed as sisters in recovery and work! From clients of our program, to managers of our women’s houses, to leaders on the corporate team, their commitment to helping others and ambition to advance the treatment industry is inspiring!

 

Leading With Experience: From Clients To The Corporate Team | TRC Newsletter

 

Q:  What was your first role with Transcend, and what is your role now?

Ellen: My first role was as a part time driver. Soon after, I became the assistant program director of the Harvard House, and then the Program Director of the Holmby house to launch our Verve program for women. I am now the Director of Client and Business Development.

Becky: I started as a part time driver in 2011, and am currently the Director of Operations.

Q:  How has your experience managing the houses aid you in your current position?

Ellen: My experience as a program director with TRC took my understanding of compassion to a new level. It allowed me to be a part of someone else’s journey which I am eternally grateful for. The work our clients take part in is powerful and takes a tremendous amount of courage. I feel very lucky to be a witness of those seeking help and peace in their life, and it allows me to share about our program from a deeper place of understanding and authenticity.

Becky: My experience working in the women’s houses for 6 years gave me a deep understanding of our program inside and out. Working with hundreds of women over the years has allowed me to experience treatment through a variety of perspectives. Each individuals treatment goals, and needs, are different. I learned how to adapt our program to create a unique recovery experience for each woman. With that hands on training, I feel that I truly understand what it is that our clients are looking for in their treatment experience.

Q:  Even though you’re working in the corporate office now, how does your current role allow you to continue to have a positive impact on our clients’ recovery?

Ellen: While I miss working directly with women in the houses, I feel very fortunate to be in position that allows me to reach a wider range of individuals. I love learning about other programs, and bringing people together who share the same passion for helping others. Community is the backbone of what Transcend is all about. I have always said, ” that belief in community doesn’t end with our clients”. It reigns true to our staff, and other individuals in our field.

Becky: Having started in the houses, I approach my current position with a commitment to ensure our current program directors are supported and equipped to provide the highest quality of care for our clients. So now that I’m in our corporate office, I work collaboratively with the house staff and clients to facilitate a positive and supportive experience throughout all of our houses. So conversely, now that I have the opportunity to help oversee both our men’s and women’s houses, I feel even more connected to the work we do and our clients across Transcend.

Q:  You guys are pretty well-known around here for your close friendship! What first drew you to the other?

Ellen: What first drew me to Becky was her realness, sense of humor, and drive she displays in not only working with others, but applying those same principals to life. She practices what she preaches, knows who she is, and would never pretend to be something she is not. That is so refreshing. There are no words to express the amount of respect I have for her.

Becky: Ellen is the kind of girl who will have your back no matter what. She’ll literally laugh at anything so she makes me feel much funnier than I probably am! She’s just easy to be around. Her commitment to her own personal growth and development is not only admirable, but motivating for those around her. She’s the real deal. Not to mention, she makes a great lunch date.

Q:  What do you think the other’s greatest strength is, and how have you seen that allow her to grow professionally?

Ellen: Becky has this amazing ability to see the good in people. I have watched her work with some of the toughest clients in the most extreme circumstances. She wont give up on anyone, because there were people that never gave up on her. She will swear by that, and I always hear her voice in my head saying that when faced with a tough case. Her work ethic and determination has taken her to a place where she now gets to lead our program directors to display the same level of patience and guidance for our clients on a nationwide level.

Becky: Ellen is extremely passionate about the work she does. I don’t think she ever puts her phone down. She cares deeply about our clients and really believes in our program. Watching Ellen grow personally and professionally over the last 3 years has been a privilege. Her dedication to the field and helping others is inspiring. There is no one better suited for the role of Director of Business Development. She’s the Stevie Nicks of treatment.

 

The Mistake And The Lesson That Followed

The Mistake And The Lesson That Followed | Transcend Recovery Community

Crain’s Los Angeles, a daily curated newsletter for business and industry leaders, recently sat down with Transcend CEO, Asher Gottesman, to discuss the lessons he’s gained from his past.

The Mistake

I grew up as the son of the rabbi in what I thought of as the poorer part of Beverly Hills. I thought if only I had the same amount of money or more money than the others there, then I’d be happy.

My pursuit was to be the richest man in the cemetery. I pursued that goal fervently. I didn’t even complete college; I went to work right away as a salesman. I became a partner in a chain of retail closeout stores, and then I sold out and became a real estate entrepreneur and dabbled in private equity as well. At first, it was the Rolex, then the fancy car and then the private jet. The more I got the less I had. None of it made me happy.

Between 2005 and 2008 when the markets turned, there was a series of events where I was forced into bankruptcy.

I went to a therapist to manage the process. I said, “I’m a true narcissist and I don’t think I’ve ever done good without balancing it out with bad. I was not always willing to look at the ethical side of business.”

The Lesson

Unbeknownst to me at the time, the therapist was in long-term recovery and referred me to a book, “The Holy Thief: A Con Man’s Journey from Darkness to Light,” by Mark Borovitz, who went to jail for 12 to 14 years and went on to become rabbi at a rehabilitation facility. I sent him an email asking to meet and, since my father was a prominent rabbi in Los Angeles, he agreed…

Continue reading this article on Crain’s “If I Knew Then,” here.

Volunteering With Bark n’ Bitches

Volunteering With Bark n' Bitches | Transcend Recovery Community

Bark n’ Bitches is a nonprofit that rescues dogs from kill shelters all around California, and puts them up for adoption. In the months that I’ve been at Transcend, I’ve loved volunteering at Bark n’ Bitches. Each time you go in you get to meet and play with the dogs, while also providing an important service by taking them out for walks. Not only does Bark n’ Bitches provide a great place for the Transcend community to work together, the staff at Bark n’ Bitches are incredibly welcoming and always thankful for our help. Knowing that you are of assistance to a nonprofit that works for the betterment of our canine friends gives us a real sense of fulfillment!

I have also met other volunteers outside of the Transcend community, which has been a great way for me to learn how to expand my sober community in Los Angeles. Working alongside others who share similar passions, goals, and aspirations to do good for the community, and themselves, adds the kind of meaning to life that we search for in recovery. Volunteering at Bark n’ Bitches has been nothing but positive, and I will continue to go there to volunteer and hang out with their really cute dogs.

Volunteering With Bark n' Bitches | Transcend Newsletter

 

 

Cooking Builds Community

Cooking Builds Community | Transcend Recovery Community

At The Verve Mar Vista house, our program includes resident chef internships, community meal preparation, and family dinners on a regular basis. Using fresh ingredients harvested from our very own sustainable garden, our residents have an active role in the meal from start to finish. We’ve found that in addition to the sense of accomplishment our residents get from enjoying a home-cooked meal with their community, this aspect of our program really allows the residents to form a deeper bond with each other and helps create the family unit that we value so much at Transcend.

At The Verve, we focus on helping our residents build life skills and hold themselves accountable. Learning to work alongside others as a member of a team is such an important part of developing an independent and self-sufficient life. Our emphasis on fellowship and structure helps our residents form a solid foundation of recovery, and ultimately, helps set them up for success in their future.

Cooking Builds Community | Transcend Recovery Community