Letter from the President

June 2014

Building Our Legacy

This past week I found myself spending a couple of days at a large addiction recovery facility in South Florida. For all the stigma that goes with being an addict, these folks were really just people, a lot like you and me - many with great jobs, good homes and loving families - when somewhere along the way they got derailed. Because we are a service organization, I spent much of my time paying close attention to the people who were serving these recovering addicts. I am always interested in how service, in any environment, presents itself as a dynamic of change in peoples' attitudes and values. Here are a few tidbits that I observed that we can apply to the way we serve our clients and each other.

The staff at this facility was widely viewed as insiders, or part of the family. Many of them lived on site and were available on a 24/7 basis. Somehow, this staff had won over the trust and affection of those being served. It was a family-type atmosphere of serving and being served, with a familiarity that was tender and respectful. I thought of us and how we, in many cases, serve in and among our clients within their facilities - striving to maintain a team or family relationship of trust and gratitude. What builds and maintains this kind of atmosphere that is more relational and less transactional enabling us to become more like family and less like the hired help?

I noticed the service providers practiced excellence with exceptional care in regard to everyone in this program. Whether a person was educated or not, wealthy or not, and regardless of ethnicity or creed, everyone received the same regard for their dignity as a human being, and the same exceptional care in every aspect of the program.

Secondly, I noticed the staff was committed to telling the truth, regardless of how it might be perceived. Bad news was shared early on and was not sugar coated (although these folks had a unique mastery of tenderness). I even heard the phrase, "The truth will set you free - you are here to find freedom aren't you?" We too owe our clients the truth. As we master truthfulness, we will gain credibility and respect in great measure.

Finally, there was a solemn commitment to operate within the rules. The standards for behavior, communication and respect were equally applied for everyone - staff and participants alike. Consequences were consistently enforced (again with great tenderness). This commitment to ethical practice resulted in a surprisingly peaceful and disciplined operation in an atmosphere ripe to devolve into a chaotic mess.

This recovery program has operated for more than 60 years in South Florida and has resulted in dramatic change to tens of thousands of lives and families from almost every state in America. For me, and all of us at FSE, what's important is keeping our commitment to gain trust. This is done by building relationships, telling the truth, and committing ourselves to excellent service for every client regardless of their stature in the organizations we serve, while operating within the boundaries of ethical behavior and practices. I believe we are very good at all of this. Let's get even better so that in another 30 years, we can have a 60-year legacy of excellent service with exceptional care that makes a difference in the success of the clients we are privileged to serve.

Keep up the great work! I am constantly amazed by all you do so well.

Ken Dickerson