Behavior Health Baltimore: How Volunteer Service Can Help in Recovery

A great way of intervening and preventing substance abuse and addiction is through volunteer services. Most, if not all individuals who are in recovery find it necessary to stay busy and to keep themselves involved in programs, activities, and services. What they hate is idle time and feeling excluded from the real world. Under the umbrella of behavior health baltimore, a new and interesting program has risen to address the client or individual in recovery’s need to give-back or volunteer. This program is called the Step Up Program.

The Step Up Program is a motivational incentive initiative which includes a treatment approach designed to help Concerted Care Group (CCG) clients in recovery, remain abstinent and drug free. It rewards participants by celebrating short-term goals while progressing towards larger, long-term career goals and independence. The ultimate goal of the Step Up Program is for each participant to achieve a healthier more rewarding life by specifically treating the whole person (body, mind, and spirit). We believe a person cannot be well physically if he or she is unable to navigate through the transitions of life i.e., career aspirations, financial security, residential security, and a sense of purpose. Over the past two-years, clients have worked along side urban muralist, Justin Nethercut, to design and contribute to community murals in the Harwood Community area, participated in adopting the 26th Street Park, as well as provided weekly maintenance and rehabilitation efforts to the Park. Moreover, as a result of various meetings, the clients have forged partnerships with Strong City Baltimore and the Harwood Community Association surrounding the 26th Street Park Beautification Project, which resulted in the installation of a new fence, increased lighting, a bike rack, planting new flowers, planting a recovery tree, and restoring the gazebo. The purpose of this restoration initiative is to create a safe and sound place for the community’s children and families to enjoy.

Pete B., a Step Up member, speaks to the importance of this program. Here are his words:

…. The Step Up Program helped change me. I was in Intensive Out Patient (IOP) and then I graduated. When I started going to the OP Program, I began attending the Step Program in 2016. Since coming to the Step Up Program, I helped with the mural, the Park, I am part of cleaning up the neighborhood. We do that once a week. Through this work, I have developed a friendship with the neighbors and community.

Besides that, I am in school and getting ready to get my GED. If it wasn’t for the Step Up Program, I don’t think I would be where I am today.

For me, giving back is essential because when I was out there using, I took so much from my neighborhood. Now that I am clean, I don’t have no choice but to give back in a positive way. This makes me feel good, because the same people who use to curse me out and call the police on me, I can now sit down and have conversations with them. They have trust in me now. It is a big difference. This program is working for me. It’s a good feeling just to hear words like, “Keep up the good work” and “I’m proud of you!” A lot of that goes a long way–a very long way.

For Pete B. and the Step Up members, volunteering is a part of their recovery and treatment. It is also a way to repair some of the damage that their addiction has caused. At the same time, it is extremely satisfying to know you’re making a positive contribution to the community.

As a final thought, we cannot relive our lives. There are no do-overs for past mistakes, however, programs like Step Up – Concerted Care Foundation allow for people who are in recovery to hit the restart button ….!

Ronald Shelley, M. Ed.
Board Chair