Honoured: those who give to help others
A beacon of hope
Rosemary Phillips has become a beacon of hope to drug users that come through the doors at Habour Light's drug rehabilitation centre.
She has seen first hand the scourge that drugs can cause in the community. “It leads to non-productive people walking around and all of them can talk to you about the crime and the stealing in their lives,” she said.
Still the 67-year-old believes in the power of the Salvation Army's treatment programme and its reported 83 percent success rate upon completion.
She was recently awarded in Caron Bermuda's Community Service Awards breakfast for her “compassion, understanding and integrity” in the addiction services field.
Each week Mrs Phillips leads religious devotions, bible-study classes and one-on-one spiritual counselling with men at the centre.
She said spirituality was an important component in most people's recovery. “Most of them when they come in it's amazing they will say they never stopped praying.
“They are always praying ‘Lord help me,' so that indicates there is always a spiritual yearning in all of them.”
Before taking up the post as Harbour Light Chaplain three years ago, Mrs Phillips was a teacher for 35 years and spent nearly three decades with the Berkeley Institute.
She was called out of retirement to take on the role.
“I do believe my whole life and life experiences have prepared me for these three years I have been here, and maybe a few more. The most rewarding part is seeing the clean addicts walking around in Bermuda and still claiming to be drug free.”
Her role is to equip recovering addicts with the emotional and spiritual tools to handle life outside the programme. But admitted what she gets in return far surpasses the service she gives each day.
“These gentlemen bring joy and laughter into my life. They are hilarious, lovable, they wait on me hand and foot.
“I am also excited to witness the spiritual awakening that is happening in each of them. They come to Harbour Lights distraught, unclean and hungry with a prayer on their lips and on their hearts. ‘Lord I come to you broken in need of help'.
“When they leave here it's amazing they do pick up those tools and use them so they know what to do. Even when they fall down they can get back up and they know where to go.”
Mrs Phillips, selected for her “unwavering Christian beliefs in providing hope and comfort”, said she was delighted and honoured to receive the award.
She told The Royal Gazette: “From knowing [the men I work with] I have learned there is always hope and no matter how broken a person is they can always change.
“I have never seen a man yet who isn't able to change.”
They picked drug users up from their lowest point, offered them hope through spiritual guidance and gave them the tools to rebuild their lives.
They are the dedicated men and women who were honoured at this year's Caron Community Service Awards Breakfast Ian Bridges, Shirley Place, Marilyn (Peggy) Jackson, Rosemary Phillips, Donna Trott and companies PartnerRe Ltd and Belco.
Gita Blakeney-Saltus, the regional vice president of Caron, said many of the honorees were familiar to the community for their work; others she described as “quiet warriors”.
“We are filled with encouragement and optimism as we recognise and pay tribute to each of them for the great work they do on a daily basis in the fight in addiction,” she said.
Recovered addict, Ian Bridges, received the Alumni Award for his “exemplary commitment to his personal journey in recovery” and “unwavering desire to help others in their quest for sobriety”.
He said it was an honour to be recognised, particularly in light of his own struggles with drug abuse from an early age. He thanked his mother and wife for supporting him in his journey and for staging the intervention that changed his life.
“They sat in front of me, not in judgement, but in love and the only thing I couldn't defend against was their love and hope for the future.
“They told me what I had been doing and what they wanted to see from me. I felt both fear and gratitude. I wanted to run and stay, I stayed because I felt safe.” Since getting sober, Mr Bridges supports others in their recovery and values his roles as husband, father and son.
Awardee Ms Place, the clinical director at Turning Point, described her position supporting and educating addicts and their families, as more than just a job.
“I look at it as part of my purpose and mission in life,” she said, while accepting the Addiction Professional Award.
“If you ask me if working with people struggling with addictions is easy, I say ‘Absolutely not'. But if you ask me if I have a desire to see people experience wholeness in their life I would say ‘Yes, absolutely'.
“That is part of my journey, my purpose and call in my life.”
Counsellor for 30-years, Ms Jackson was awarded for her work in teaching children the consequences of addiction and “empowering our young people to make better life choices”.
She said she felt “very humbled and appreciative” of receiving the Educational Excellence Award.
“I always said this was my life's purpose, so I am dedicated and committed and love working with young people,” she told The Royal Gazette.
“The rewarding part is seeing a young person grow and be empowered in that process, understanding how to make better choices.
“I try and teach them they need to lead lives that are blessed and committed to themselves and their families and using their potential. A lot of times they don't see their potential and by using substances they block their blessings.”
Donna Trott, the supervisor of the drug assessment service, known as BARC, was handed the Unsung Hero Award.
She was described as “solution driven”, “a constant professional” and “a strong advocate for each and every client that walks through the doors [of the BARC office]”.
Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling collected the Special Recognition Award in honour of his late brother David Gosling.
David, who passed away more than a decade ago while still in his 40s, struggled with his own drug addiction, but after finding sobriety counselled others.
Ms Blakeney-Saltus said: “This is a long overdue recognition for an individual who, through his work and service, created a pathway for many Bermuda residents to experience the joys of recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.”
Reinsurance company PartnerRe Ltd received the Community Leadership Award for it's continuous support of Caron Bermuda. While Belco was handed the Human Services Award for establishing a workplace drug and alcohol policy in June 1994.
Caron Co-Chair Shalanda Durrant-Thomas said the support provided by individuals and companies throughout the Island was pertinent at this time.
“With the challenges of the current economy putting financial strains on our families and our general sense of our well-being more and more people are turning to drugs and alcohol to ease their anxieties.
“The economic downturn has created an ever-greater need for quality addiction treatment and has motivated Caron Bermuda now more than ever to reach out to those that have become unmanageable because of chemical dependency.
“During these uncertain times Caron Bermuda remains committed to our mission of providing a vital world class treatment solution, we are dealing with these issues thanks to our outreach, strategic planning, execution and fundraising efforts.”
Useful website: http://www.caronbermuda.org/
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