July 27 at 2:23pm

Former Client Teaches Art Therapy to Veterans

Lisa-1024x683More than one-third of the people living on the streets of North County are struggling with an addiction. Through our addiction recovery programs and services, Interfaith offers men and women the opportunity to be free of their addiction and get back on the road to stability.

Lisa, a California native, initially came to Interfaith through the non-veteran Recuperative Care Program, which provides emergency housing and support to homeless individuals recovering from an illness or injury following a hospital stay. After struggling with an alcohol addiction for years and falling in and out of recovery, Lisa found herself in the hospital with a broken hip, a result of her addiction.

“My friends and family were done with me, I had nowhere to go,” said Lisa. “And while it hurt, it was the best thing they could have done for me.”

Working with a social worker, Lisa was referred to Recuperative Care and was in the program for three months. Once she had recovered from her injury, she transitioned into the Escondido Community Sobering Services (ECSS) program, a crisis intervention residential sobering/stabilization program formed by a collaboration of the Escondido Police Department, City staff, and non-profit agencies, such as Interfaith.

“It gives me chills to talk about; I am so grateful for Interfaith,” said Lisa. “They saved my life; I would not have made it on the streets very long.”

Lisa stayed in Interfaith’s ECSS sober living facility for nearly a year, and while in the program began doing something that surprised her: art therapy.

“I had always been an artist, but when I started recovery and they suggested ‘art therapy,’ I couldn’t help but roll my eyes,” said Lisa. “But your days can get empty when you’re in recovery, so one day, I started painting old soda bottles and turning them into vases.”

What started as a small project soon became a weekly activity. Lisa would collect soda bottles from the other sober living residents, paint and decorate them, and then pick flowers to fill her new vases. Once filled, she would walk them around to the other apartments and when the flowers died, she would collect the vases and fill them with new flowers.

While Lisa graduated from the ECSS program and today lives in Encinitas with a friend also in recovery, she makes sure to take the time out of her week to come back to Interfaith and volunteer, teaching art classes to the clients in the veteran Recuperative Care Program. In her art classes, the veterans have learned to make everything from wreaths during the holidays, to picture frames and beaded vases.

“It’s so nice to just go and do something fun with the veterans,” said Lisa. “It mixes up the day and is a nice distraction for them for an hour or two.”

Proud of her recovery, Lisa is not shy in sharing how instrumental of a role Interfaith played in her sobriety.

“It’s vitally important what Interfaith does,” said Lisa. “Now, life is so good. I can’t thank them enough.”

Interfaith Community Services is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit social services agency. For information on how you can contribute to the organization with either monetary gifts, in-kind donations, or through volunteer work, please contact Interfaith’s Chief Development Officer, Robert Adams, at radams@interfaithservices.org or by calling (760) 489-6380 ext. 206.