Testimonials from Mz. Shirliz, The Centre and Choices
To Whom It May Concern:
The Centre is a place I go when I feel a little down or when times are getting hard. I worked at The Centre to work off the hours I was ordered to do by the Court for my 2nd DUI. As I worked, I talked with people there. Most people there talk about the mistakes they made and were turning their lives around to become better people. If they don’t have a job they go out and help people that need help. They have classes they attend and talk to the others about the mistakes they have made to help each other not to make the same mistakes. They also go to school and get a good job. Just to sit and talk with them will make you say that you don’t want to make the same mistakes. I think that if they go out and talk to young people the burglary and killing could be cut down a little. We need more centers like this one. I do not live there but I do like going there to talk to the people. It keeps me on the right track.
So it's going to be very hard to put into words in how you exactly helped me. When I first moved into your house I felt safe and that I was going to be ok. I was so scared on what the future was going to bring me. I didn't know how to put one day together or stand still, I was a frantic mess. I was in and out of the house all the time forget trying to clean or cook that was not in my vocabulary when I came. I knew you were being patient with me and just letting me run my course. I wanted to live with you because I knew you would offer me strength, love and discipline that I needed to survive after Angelo died. A lot of people tell me that they can't believe how far I've came let alone function after that happened. It is all due to your fast pace on my recovery, you didn't let me sit there and mope around, you knew that I needed to get busy and put the work in to achieve my goals. When ever I did sit there and mope I thought about you and your story and how you remained focused and went strait to it.
As far as my sobriety goes I couldn't have remained sober with just AA. Yes it is a great support system but I needed that extra push and I have always been like that. I had plenty of opportunities to drink and there was even times I wanted to but couldn't have come back home and looked at you in your face. I no longer looked at it the same way, I looked at drinking being disrespectful to you and all the other people that went out on a limb to help me. You really helped me on dating advice I like how I would tell you things and listen for your feedback. The difference now is that I actually listen and I have great respect for myself for taking your advice. My communication skills are a lot better I never knew how I affected people in a negative way by not speaking to them. I understand now that I don't have clear and straight to the point communication with other people that they might take me the wrong way.
Before I make a decision now I think about what you would do first, you permanently installed a different mind state in me. What I have learned living with you I will carry with me for the rest of my life. You are my family and I will always look to you for guidance. I really loved our long talks and your stories, I would listen to every word like I was holding on to them. I lived with you in the perfect time of my life because this time around I was willing to listen and learn. I love you so much and just being around you is enough for me to feel safe, loved and like I always have a home with you. Thank you so much for everything!!
The way Choices has profoundly affected my life in many ways is it gave me a second chance in life. As I sit here today thinking how Choices and Miss Shirley changed my life when I was released from San Mateo County jail I had no place to go and the wait list for a program was extremely long. The knowledge I learned from Choices prepared me for the next step in life instead of going back to my old behavior. Choices has given me the tools to progress in the next steps in life. I thank God every day for putting Shirley, the staff and Alumni of Choices in it. So as I struggle to get in a program making phone call after phone call my brother in law and I came to the conclusion it would be to my best interest to call Shirley. As I left her a message of the problem I was facing I was hoping that she could help me get into a program. It was Friday at 3:00pm and it was impossible to get in one. As she has done for many people of the Choices program she called me right back and told me I could stay in her transitional house. Lucky for me on that Friday there was a Choices Alumni meeting too. SO me and my brother in law both being Choices Alumni went to the meeting, the support that was given to me was so unreal that so many people from the communication of Choices were there for support.
So I went to stay in Shirley's transitional living house, just like Choices, everyone in the house made me feel at home. I am so grateful for making that decision to go to Choices and have people around me that care about me, while I was in the program with the help from the alumni of Choices and Miss Shirley I know I can beat my addiction and live the life that I want and deserve. I'm just so grateful to have been given a second chance that I needed in life to succeed.
Thank you, Eric Borjon
Dear Shirley Lamarr,
I would like to thank you for the opportunity of being a part of your vision and a resident of your Transitional House. I enter your home on 08/01/08 and will be exiting on 03/01/09 into an apartment of my own.
During this time I was treated with the utmost respect and given so much support the my ups and downs. Everyone in the house followed the same rules, guidelines, was expected to participate in house meetings, outside support groups whether support groups of their own or your support groups twice a month.
In every household there will be occasionally grips here and there, but never something that could not be resolved. I also experienced when the house pulled together as one, to help me attempt to get overnight visits with my eight year old daughter. Everyone went beyond the call of duty without the blink of an eye. I truly appreciate the time we spent together and the support of everyone. I wish the best for everyone in each and every step forward.
I truly enjoyed sharing Sunday family dinners, where we enjoyed plenty of laughter and got to know more about each other. I believe on the assigned cook nights everyone put care in the preparation of their meals. I also was supported by members of the house surrounding my food intake after sharing with them the instructions from my doctor. Everyone gave their support with healthy food suggestion, grocery shopping and invitations of joining health spas.
I was given the opportunity and time to continue my education, I was surrounded with people who gave of themselves and allowed me to ask questions and their opinions. Members of the household shared a computer which was located in a central area. Having access to a computer helped to work on an essay and locate information online.
I truly appreciate the months I was allowed to reside here in your home and never felt under pressure that my time was up however, I did feel the support and guidance given from you was very helpful and needed. I learned that being held accountable for monthly updates on our progress and plans towards our exit plan kept me focused. In the beginning I was told that the expected date of residents would be 6-8 months, surprising enough that has been just the time needed to work it out for myself.
I will be leaving on March 1, 2009, I am looking forward to having a place of my own. I am also looking forward to decorating my place and modeling it somewhat like the home of Shirley's. I have been impressed with Shirley's taste in decorating her home with beautiful artwork, a wall of life accomplishments and her passion for her house being clean and presentable at all times.
Most importantly I will continue to remain clean and sober by continuing to attend my support groups, my spiritual guidance, healthy relationships with my family and friends, mental/physical care, my obligation to Safe House, educational path and being there for others. I will remain open for suggestions and constructive input.
Finally, I can't begin to thank you or say how much you presents in my life have brought me joy and comfort. Having you in my life has made me a better woman, sister, mother and person. You have given me information regarding parts of my life I didn't know about, you share parts of your life that made a connection for me. I now have the relationship with you I always longed for, we share in a vision of our families coming together in the blessings of God which leads us further into the joy of having each other. We share in smiles and tears that bring us closer together and stories of bring mothers and grandmothers. God has a plan that includes me and you. God knows the happiness we will continue to share as our lives go on together, never to be separated or apart again.
With all of this said, I like to thank you again for the opportunity of being one out of many, who will be impacted with an abundance of support while living at your transitional house. While working with you and others your house continues to be successful. I along with others came needing the proper stepping stone to make a successful re-entry plan into society and found it here at your house. I leave with no regrets, a plan and so much gratitude for the help i received.
Sincerely, Michelle Jones
It's me Brett writing to you to say thank you again for everything you've done for me. I never forgot that without your help I would be serving all of my sentences from multiple counties instead of living the incredible life that I am.
I love my life and I love you for believing in me. I was talking to Abe the other day about Choices after he came back from speaking to several pods including both Choices East & West. I told him how I heard about Choices and why I originally wrote to be interviewed. I told Abe the reason I originally wrote to Choices was because my cellmate told me that there was a pod that people painted and did crafts all day long. It seemed like a much better place to be than in my cell. Change was impossible in my brain so it was the last reason I would do anything. When Kim Jones came to interview me he was a different kind of person than I had ever been interviewed by in jail. He was smart, funny, confident and when he told me a little about himself and how he had changed his life I was impressed but still refused to believe it was possible for me.
I remember my first day in Choices, I always will. You and Teri were giving someone a massive haircut and I thought "whatever he did, I'm never going to do that" and I also thought the both of you were CRAZY. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I did whatever that one guy did and much worse over the next 14 or so months. Contract after contract "just go scrub something" is what you would scream at me. I remember my first haircut and you asking me why I was crying and my response was "I don't know".
I say 14 months because that is how long it took me to fall in Love with Choices, you, Teri and everyone who was helping me see how f'd up my life was and who I had become. The dream of going to Delancey Street was just that, a dream. My lawyer use to beg me to take the deal. The deal kept getting better and better according to my lawyer and his colleagues. He would say, "you are never going to get to go to Delancey Street; there is no judge that will ever let you go, especially with all these cases in other counties". I did not care what my lawyer said, all I knew is that for the first time in my life I was part of something that was good and I wanted to be a part of it as long as I could.
Thanks to you and Judge Parson's I've been in Delancey Street for over three years with a commitment for at least two more. I'm a Tribe Leader, a Barber, I have my own static group w/Jerry R. I'm back to managing our cafe after a rotation as the Maintenance Department Head (talk about learning experience). I also work in the legal department now and do jail interviews @ Co.Co.Co. (when I went to Butte County they actually gave me the keys to the jail, unbelievable). I go on speaking engagements and do tours talking about Delancey Street and I help with "Institute Training" to teach others who are trying to do what we've been doing for over 40 years. I used to watch you do tours of Choices with Judges and various people and you had this amazing glow full of confidence. I remember thinking, I want to feel like that.
I'm the guy to whom who would scream "you are 6'2 and weight 250lbs and no one can hear a word you say, SPEAK UP!!!!." Now I prefer to speak without a microphone even in situations that most people would use one. I have a voice, I guess it's easy once you believe in what you are talking about.
I have half dozen friends who really know me and I know who they are. I have a friend who is more like a brother in the healthiest sense of the word. (Juan C.) Who keeps me on my toes and keeps me busy. I make sure I remember how lucky he is to be here. Sometimes he forgets. It doesn't take much to remind him. I just threatened to "tell Shirley" and I remind him of the days when getting to Delancey Street was an unbelievable fantasy for him. He was never supposed to get to be here. You make miracles happen Shirley. We do not forget and we think and talk about you often.
You would love it if could see Juan C. do his magic here. No one gets new guys pumped up like Juan. He doesn't do anything fancy he just tells them stories about his day in the moving company or stories about things he's done in Delancey Street. He makes them laugh. Watching Juan change over the past five years has been one of the most important factors in my believing in Choices and Delancey Street.
There are many days that are hard. It is hard to stop being an idiot when you've practiced being one your whole life. Many times I did not understand why something would happen or why I was told to wait for this or that. You told me that I would feel these things and to remember why I came to Delancey Street.
I'm fortunate that I get to spend time with Mimi. I drive her to appointments and to where ever she needs to go. I think it's the best job in Delancey Street. It is amazing to be a part of her life. I've gotten to see and do so many amazing things.
I do not take for granted or forget that without your help Shirley, my life in Delancey Street would not have been nearly as good as it is. You helped me peel off about twelve layers of asshole before I came here. It made a huge difference.
I have these amazing moments of the purest gratitude where I think about how great my life is and I am ashamed that I have not written you sooner. I love you Shirley and I'll never forget.
SHIRLEY LAMARR YOU ARE A ONE OF A KIND AND THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE WITH YOU IN IT!!!!
WITH MUCH LOVE AND ADMIRATION,
Father and Son share there stories
Choices Alumni helps us better our lives and keeps us motivated on pursuing to stay on the right path. Other than making the wrong choices that lead us to our problems. I would like to thank the people that run the program for helping my son and I better our lives by their great moral support. We both will continue attending the Choices Alumni meetings to help us as a guide to stay on the right path. Also it's a good reminder that they little things lead us to bigger things which lead us back to jail which is not the way I like to live my life. I am also thankful for the other people that attend the meeting as well, because it keeps me reminded that I'm not doing this alone. Thank you for teaching me ways to reslove my problems, it's helped me a grat deal.
~ Rick Paul Faccini Sr.
I have been attending the choices alumni meetings for a few months now and I am truly thankful for these meetings for many reasons. My father and I attend this meeting together and it keeps us positive and is a good reminder of where our old ways can take us. I love how the meetings never focus on drugs and mainly on our behavior. It focuses on what leads us to our problems and for some, drug use. I get a little messed up and have erges to use after every AA and NA meeting I have attended but not after one of the Choices meetings. I reallylove the staff who run all of Choices, they feel like family to me and I plan to continue attending these meetings as long as they have them so I can continue the path of doing good and bettering our lives.
~ Rick John Faccini