A Peek Behind the Curtain of SHE RECOVERS
What it takes to keep a global lifeline organization going.
By Susan Carter, Executive Director, SHE RECOVERS® Foundation
I’ll never forget the feelings I had as a young girl when Toto pulled back the curtain to reveal the Wizard of Oz, the ominous being who was the only one who could help Dorothy find her way home to Kansas.
She overcame many obstacles along her journey only to discover the Wizard was an unsuspecting old man pulling levers and modifying his voice to create bursts of fire amidst a scary image of a massive male figurehead with a furrowed brow and beady eyes. My heart sank. I thought Dorothy was doomed! But to my surprise, in the end, it was the Wizard who helped her return home.
Recently, it dawned on me, potential donors and even those who are highly engaged in our community may have no idea what goes on “behind the curtain” to provide a lifeline of support to women 24/7.
And just like my surprise in Oz, I am stunned by the small yet mighty team of passionate professional “wizards” behind the scenes at SHE RECOVERS® Foundation shepherding us all “home” to ourselves in recovery.
The Foundation received its official IRS status as a public charity on April 8th last year. Shortly before life as we knew it ended when COVID hit, and the Foundation, with little to no funds in its coffers, turned on a dime to convert existing events and intimate online programs into a global virtual platform to connect, support and empower women in or seeking recovery 24/7.
This is where the magic behind the curtain begins. Let’s look at some examples.
Since this time last year, 90 volunteers have stepped up to drive the mission of SHE RECOVERS forward including hosting over 600 online ZOOM Gatherings. Those volunteers require training, scheduling, communication, and ongoing support. Technology continues to be updated and protected to meet the increased demand; communication is required to ensure more women have access to free resources; and policies, procedures, and guidelines must constantly be reviewed and revised to maintain the sanctity and security of our gatherings. Legal disclaimers and waivers for participation require attorney fees, cyber liability insurance must be secured and maintained, trademarks protected, etc.
Watching the SHE RECOVERS “wizards” pull all the levers behind this curtain to make these gatherings appear seamless to the women we serve is nothing short of miraculous. Yet these operational expenses come with hefty fees that we are struggling to raise.
Let’s look at the heavy lifting required to fund and fuel the SHE RECOVERS® certification programs – Recovery coaches and trauma informed yoga teachers. Central to our mission of expanding access to care, SHE RECOVERS® actively recruits and retains professionals to build up the declining mental health workforce to assist women in communities around the world. Curriculum is constantly revised, applications must be reviewed, questions need to be answered, registration fees processed, recruitment and retention plans executed, ongoing support provided, branding guidelines developed, etc.
These trained individuals not only volunteer to facilitate online programs, but are also stepping up when the time is right to help SHE RECOVERS establish its grassroots network in cities around the world.
Once again, watching SHE RECOVERS “wizards” turn all the knobs to keep this empowering program organized, growing, funded and sustainable is truly impressive. Dollars that we don’t have are required just to create the legal structure, so we are ready to launch when COVID restrictions lift.
But some of the most arduous work taken on by SHE RECOVERS “wizards” is rescheduling the old and planning for the new in-real-life retreats, conferences, workshops and trainings. Venues are shifting capacity, budgets are being revised, hefty deposits are being held by select venues, speaker dates are being re-negotiated, etc. Uncertainty prevails as we speculate about when borders will reopen and put plans in place for when it is safe to gather again. All of this to say, the Foundation relies on sponsorship dollars to fund these amazing events and potential partners are hesitant to commit without confirmed numbers and event dates.
Some nonprofit consultants have stated that if we aren’t already, in a few years SHE RECOVERS Foundation will be the largest publicly funded women’s global behavioral health organization outside the federal government.
It’s movements like ours that will change the way recovery is talked about, treated, and eventually celebrated with no shame or stigma attached.
The gates of SHE RECOVERS are majestic and wide. Just as one of our Intentions and Guiding Principles states “Recovery is a journey to wholeness” – back to where it all began – back home. But unfortunately, we can’t get home by clicking our heels three times and repeating “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
Our “wizards” work day and night behind the curtain to assist women in or seeking recovery on that journey. If we want to discover new heights in our recovery, we must remember dollars enable SHE RECOVERS to fulfill its mission and in return benefit to its investors.
So just as Dorothy learned the Wizard of Oz wasn’t really a wizard, I’d like to formally introduce and publicly thank these passionate professionals who are responsible for turning all the wheels, pulling all the chains, and producing all the smoke that is creating one of the most beautiful communities of support for women around the world.
Volunteers and Events
Branding, Graphic & Web design
Recovery Coach Coordinator
Carrie Hodges Thomas
Accounting & Finance
And I would also like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the Founding Investors for helping establish a firm foundation upon which to grow through their generous financial contributions.
These are the Good Fairies – they hold the vision and light the way for all those who have gone before us and all those that are yet to follow.
And because “Connection is our sole (soul) purpose and we are stronger together” we skip down the Yellow Brick Road of recovery, arm-in-arm, allowing each other space to find and follow our own individualized pathways and patchworks of recovery. Then as we heal ourselves, we help others do the same, and truly begin to live where “troubles melt like lemon drops” in a world where all women in or seeking recovery are celebrated, supported and deemed essential to healthy communities.
So please, put on your ruby slippers and get involved today! Let’s all go home to ourselves in a way we never knew we could!
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We have the women, the power and the presence to be a mighty force in our world.
And until ALL women in or seeking recovery from these challenges are celebrated, supported and deemed essential to healthy communities, we will not rest. This is our movement. This is our cause. With your help we can continue to provide responsive, recovery-focused touchpoints and resources for all recovering women.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susan Carter, CPSW | Executive Director & Ex-Officio Board Member, SHE RECOVERS® Foundation
Susan is an architect of hope and healing with over 30 years experience in providing executive level leadership to heart-centred teams in the non-profit realm. Since joining SHE RECOVERS® Foundation as Executive Director in April 2020, Susan continues to weave her experience with her passion to help other women receive what she has been so graciously given – long term recovery from substance use disorder, body image issues, codependency, perfectionism and moral injury.
Susan’s work in the treatment industry quickly revealed how stigma kept women struggling with mental health issues and addiction from seeking help, and the lack of resources available to them once they did. Having served as a founding employee of Susan G. Komen for the Cure for 20 years and playing an integral role creating the global grassroots movement that changed the way breast cancer is talked about and treated, she felt called to utilize that experience to do the same for women struggling with mental health and substance use disorders.
Celebrating more than 27 years of continuous sobriety, Susan is a Certified Peer Support Worker (CPSW) in the state of New Mexico to provide resources and peer support to those in or seeking recovery. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her fur family of four, Alex, Chaco, Bodhi and Gracie.