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My Ten Year Challenge

Where do I start? The years and years of active addiction? The anger? The PTSD/ my childhood? Yea well all of that and more. As with lots of addicts the past life is sorta blurred, going from childhood to a young man so lost after trying to kill someone, then some time in a psych ward (where I learned that drugs were good).

I was a country boy, small town Alberta, who stuttered and was bullied for that. Growing up life was stable, loving parents and family. Then after a close friend committed suicide at 13, I put a gun in my mouth. The bullet misfired, but that started my long dance with suicide. It still haunts me today, like that old friend, or a closet no one ever opened. Somewhere around then, all the guns in our house disappeared, due to my growing anger. Nothing was done or said, and my anger lived on for decades.

Then after an intense experience at 4H club week at Olds collage, I had what then was called a nervous breakdown, crying and shaking, making a spectacle of myself around other kids who had no clue, and facilitators for club week who could do nothing. So after not being able to sleep for a couple days I came home a wreck. Then over nothing, I completely lost it and began chocking a close family member. When they escaped and were running across the field to the highway, I took my .22, which I had been given back on trust, and lined up a shot through a window, but I just could not pull the trigger. I then made a whole bunch of Molotov’s, to throw at the cops, then fueled the family car and left. I drove around for hours, but then finally went home. The police were there and took me into custody. I was put in jail for a while, then transferred in a straitjacket to a psych ward. I spent the summer there, and was sent to boarding school, against the wishes of my counsellor. That of course was when I started to hate myself, had no self-trust, and lost all hope in having a future. My family had many members in military, so that was all I had ever wanted to do. But that of course that was lost, and so was I. So I played up the crazy part, from being in the psych ward, and hating myself I played up the anger. Alcohol fed the crazies and anger gave me power, but never could assuage the broken child inside.

And that’s how it went for years, the self-hate and suicidal acts, pushing everything to the limit. Of course the drugs got less effective at masking the pain and I found myself with a 15 year needle habit. I lost friends and ended up suicidal enough for four more mental health arrests. Finally after months on the wait list at Fresh Start and another couple arrests and time in the psych ward I was accepted in to treatment at FSRC.

I don’t know now how I made it through the first bit, being so angry and still suffering from drug induced psychosis. To this day I thank Stacey and Bruce and all staff for seeing past the madman I was then.

I remember hearing about a spiritual awaking but could only start to slowly rid myself of all the anger and pain.

 I was in a NA meeting and remember listing to some new comer share, and all I heard was bitch, bitch, bitch, all about his problem, with nothing about a solution. He of course was me. Earlier that evening I was rolling butts from the ash can at Fresh Start and only wanted to be left alone to be miserable, when Bruce came outside, saw I was hurting, and pulled me up into one of his famous bear hugs. One of the first times I cried, but only after he left (cowboy up and all that macho shit).

Then months went by, and I was back at work,  I was losing it again, and ended up back in the psych ward again. I had been in psych counseling the whole time, but this time was different. That started an eight year journey with one of the counsellors at FAOS. I slowly started to work in earnest on all my anger and other problems, dealing with being straight with no drugs to hide behind. That counsellor saw me through thick and thin, and with great patience guided me along. Then somewhere in all of that, through meetings and work I met an incredible woman who saw through all my pain and anger, a lovable man.

After almost five years of working construction (my 30 plus years of employment), my girl (now my wife) and I had to move, so we borrowed the FSRC cube truck. She had of course been encouraging me to apply at FSRC, for a couple of years. So in order to give back I put my name in to work the front desk as relief staff, aiming to keep working construction during the week. Well serendipity stepped in and an opening appeared for night shift, just as a winter lay off happened in my stucco job. I have never looked back. FSRC gave me the home and belonging I so desperately needed and so many chances to give back, so I stayed.

So my ten year journey has been one with many, many setbacks and pain, but ultimately so much opportunity for growth. The NA/AA programs and steps let me see who I was, and all the love and encouragement I received from friends and family led me to a life worth living.

You can ask me has it been easy. No! I have never worked so hard in all my years. Yet the work goes on, progress, not perfection! Every day brings me closer to the man I should be, and further from the wretch I was. Keeping growth and gratitude is difficult, but the grace of God and the love I receive, keeps me there.

Is it easy? No!  Is it worth it Yes, yes and yes!


recovery, addiction, family healing, calgary treatment centre  

Holiday Blessings

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! A time for reflection, service, celebration, gratitude, family and spending time with loved ones. It can also be a difficult time for some people.  If that is the case for you or a loved one, we would like to remind you to reach out or perhaps drop into the centre for a coffee and a visit.  Holiday time can be best spent with others, we are staffed 24/7 and this is no different over the holidays.  

We ARE a community that shows up for one another –whether you are a donor, supporter, family member, resident, alumni, volunteer, board member, staff or friend of Fresh Start - - this movement is about the tapestry of lives woven together to make lasting change… and change we are making. In ourselves, in others, in this city and country.

We are honored to be able to share our lives, work and service together with you in joy and love.

‘Tis the season to wish one another loving kindness and peace. These are our wishes for you, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays our dear friends, may you feel the love this special season.

Many Blessings, 

Stacey and The Fresh Start Staff

Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values. — Thomas S. Monson

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He's Someone

He is someone who everybody loved.

He is someone who was friends with everyone.  

He is someone who had such potential.

He is someone’s father, uncle and son.

And yet, none of this matters – because addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter who he is or who he was, at Fresh Start he is someone. 

With record numbers of overdose deaths, chronic alcoholism and fentanyl poisoning, this Christmas we think it’s time to get real and talk about our humanity. It is the one thing we all share. We don’t need to qualify a person by their behaviors, who they are or what they have – we need to get them into treatment because they matter. Because all lives matter. Where there is life there is hope.

At Fresh Start we see miracles happen every day.  Men who come into treatment sick and broken, who get well and then truly start to live.  From their brokenness they rise, and they learn how to thrive.

The men who walk up our stairs to enter treatment all see a kick plate that reads “Welcome Home. You are no longer alone.” It acknowledges our shared connection and our shared humanity.  It reminds those embarking on a new life in recovery that they are coming home and coming home to oneself. 

The journey of addiction IS someone’s dark night of the soul… the journey of recovery asks us all to cast a light upon the silence, the shame and the stigma... and that takes courage.  We need you and your support to courageously shine the light. You have an opportunity to cast out the darkness.  You have an opportunity to be someone for someone. 

This is your invitation.  

To give this holiday season click here.

Much Gratitude, The Fresh Start Team

recovery, addiction, family healing, calgary treatment centre  

Giving Tuesday YYC

Canadian Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesdayCa) is almost here …Your help would be wonderful!!!

Since the first Giving Tuesday in Calgary (#GivingTuesdayYYC) in 2013, many wonderful friends like you have helped be part of the recovery solution, got more people talking about how recovery is possible and contributed funds to make that recovery possible for those who couldn’t afford a meal, let alone a day of recovery.


You might be interested to know that this year there are many more opportunities for you to be involved with Fresh Start to continue to be an important part of the recovery movement, including coming down and being with us at the kickoff of Giving Tuesday in Calgary (#GivingTuesdayYYC) this year.

#1 YOUR TWEET MEANS CASH FOR RECOVERY ($100,000 available)

YOU have been an important partner in Fresh Start’s success, making it possible for people affected by addiction to get the help they need but can’t necessarily afford and you have helped on Giving Tuesday.

On November 27th Benevity will pay $10 for every Retweet that mentions @FreshStartRC as follows:

On November 27th visit @Benevity on Twitter and find the #BeTheGood video pinned to Benevity’s Twitter Timeline

Retweet the Video – select “retweet with comment” and mention @FreshStartRC in your comment

For every retweet mentioning @FreshStartRC, Fresh Start receives $10 

#2 GlobalGiving has $150,000 in funding to match your donation

YOU may have donated to Fresh Start’s “Your gift delivers #GratefulRecovery to 18 Men” project that earned SuperStar status earlier this year. Funds are denominated in either $US or British Pounds (‎£). For Canadian donors, Fresh Start converts to Canadian and sends you a tax receipt. For your friends and relatives in the US and UK, they get a tax receipt directly from GlobalGiving.


Go to “Your gift delivers #GratefulRecovery to 18 Men” between Nov. 26, 2018, at 22:00:00 (10:00 PM) MT and end at 21:59:59 (9:59 PM) MT on Nov. 27, 2018.

Make a one-time donation from $25US to $2,500US per unique donor or a new recurring/monthly donation from $20US/month to $200US and it will count towards earning a portion of the $150,000 Incentive Fund

Share the good news with your friends and family in the United States and the United Kingdom and encourage them to share in the success of Fresh Start, leverage their contribution and get a tax receipt.

  #3 Support Fresh Start on the Giving Tuesday site

Go to the GivingTuesdayCa site set up for Fresh Start and make your donation

Receive your tax receipt immediately

Have your donation count for the total GivingTuesdayYYC numbers to show how great Calgary is

Share your enthusiasm with others using the Hashtags #GivingTuesdayCa (Canada) and #GivingTuesdayYYC (Calgary) and @FreshStartRC on Twitter, @FreshStartRecovery on Facebook and Instagram

#4 Share your story of how Fresh Start has helped you

Take a short video (45 seconds or less) or a photograph with a “sign” saying why you are grateful to Fresh Start and how we have helped you. Please use tags #GratefulRecovery, #Unselfie (for photograph with sign) or #MyGivingStory (video) and #GivingTuesdayCa #GivingTuesdayYYC #MyGivingStory and @FreshStartRC (Twitter) @FreshStartRecovery on Facebook and a link to our donation page and share

#5  Join us at Fresh Start on #GivingTuesdayYYC and be part of the Community Kickoff of #GivingTuesdayCa

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1.Register for FREE on Eventbrite 

2.Come join us at 7:30 am (Parking in the Centre Street Church Campus 3900 2 St NE parking lot and take the shuttle to Fresh Start)

Shuttles Run from 7:15 – 9:45 am

Doors Open at Fresh Start at 7:30 am

Speakers/Program starts at 8:00 am (see schedule below) Event Ends 9:30 am

3.Enjoy a hot Gluten/Dairy/Egg Free breakfast featuring a signature Steel Cut Oat based Porridge from Eleven-Eleven Recovery Café (Fresh Start’s Social Enterprise)

4.Come and experience the excitement and energy of #GivingTuesdayYYC. You’ll have the chance to win special prizes including branded toques, one of 100 CanadaHelps Charity Gift Cards, take #Unselfies and #MyGivingStory pictures to share on Twitter and Instagram, meet with and hear (or read sign) community members representing different charities, schools, businesses, politicians and experience how the Calgary Community is celebrating and kicking off #GivingTuesdayYYC with insight from community leaders like:

GivingTuesdayYYC Co-Chair Wayne Steer, Past President – AFP Calgary & Area Chapter and Fresh Start Recovery Centre - Master of Ceremonies (Co-Chair -Derek Fraser, Past President – AFP Calgary & Area Chapter and Osborne Group)

Blessing by Casey Eaglespeaker (also known by his traditional name “Sorrel Horse” by his people within the Blackfoot Confederation) member of the Blood Tribe in Southern Alberta and Aboriginal Resource Coordinator/Traditional Counsellor at Hull Services

Calgary Foundation – Janice Francey, Co-Director, Communications, supporting a healthy and vibrant community since 2003. 

CAGP – Kevin Davidson, B.Comm. CFP, Gift Planning Consultant with Abundance Canada

AFP Calgary & Area – Carlene Chrumka, CFRE, AFP Calgary & Area Chapter President and Janus Academy

United Way of Calgary & Area - Kathleen McPherson, Vice President, Campaign and Resource Development at United Way of Calgary and Area (2017 Outstanding Fundraising Professional)

Calgary Economic Development - Megan Zimmerman, Business Development Manager, Energy, Green Economy & Technology at Calgary Economic Development (Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 Class of 2018)

PropellUS - Andrea Young - Experienced Nonprofit Evaluator with extensive volunteering experience across the globe with a Master of Science (MSc) focused on International Development from the University of Bath.

CCVO – Karen Whiteman, Director, Policy and Programs, Karen has had a long-time love for the non-profit sector. Karen holds a B.A. and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Victoria.


Community Speakers


Renée Hopfner:  Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sobeys Inc. (2018 Hazel Gillespie Community Investment Leadership Award Recipient)

Greg McGillivary, Scenarios to Strategy Inc - Giving and Growing an Award-Winning Volunteer Program

Darren Biedermann, Creative Director (Owner), Supreme Men’s Wear (2018 Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist) 

Which ever way(s) you choose to help us celebrate GivingTuesday this year, please know that we continue to be extremely grateful for your love and support in whatever manner you choose to show it.


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Stacey Petersen, RSW

Executive Director

recovery, addiction, family healing, calgary treatment centre  

The Good News

In the last couple of weeks, Fresh Start has been blessed with three really exciting pieces of news that we would like to share with you. 


1. Charity Intelligence Canada has recognized Fresh Start as being a Top 10 Impact Charity in Canada for the fourth year in a row based on the high Social Return on Investment (SROI) that Fresh Start delivers to community. Click here for full announcement. This kind recognition is based on performance that doesn’t happen in isolation. It is the work of an entire community coming together to be bigger than the sum of the parts. These parts include:

  • a core of caring volunteers including board members,
  • committed and engaged advocates who help spread the word,
  • thoughtful and dedicated donors who help keep the lights on, the staff fairly compensated and the doors open and
  • a passionate and compassionate staff who are committed to helping those who will work for their recovery to be able to change their life … one step at a time.

To all of you who share in this success, THANK YOU!

But that’s not all ….

2. One of Fresh Start’s long-time supporters – Supreme Men’s Wear Ltd. under the leadership of Darren Biedermann - has been named Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist.


3. Fresh Start has been selected to be one of five charities from across Canada to be part of the November 2018 National Advertising Challenge “NAC Cares” campaign. This “contest” invites the best advertising agencies in the country to create an outstanding advertising campaign for one or more of the five charities. If one of the Fresh Start campaigns is selected as a “top 3” in the Canadian judging, it will compete against other campaigns from all over the world at the Lion d'Or (Gold Lion) competition at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France in 2019.

If you know of an advertising agency that has “the chops”, please consider passing this along to them and invite them to create their best stuff for Fresh Start. Besides helping Fresh Start, they could profile their creative talents on the world stage.  


recovery, addiction, family healing, calgary treatment centre  

Food Truck on a Mission

We would like to introduce you to our addiction recovery themed food truck called Eleven-Eleven, serving up great food and most of all…. HOPE. We have been operating this new venture on the Calgary streets for just over a month. Our tag line is “Eat Good. Do Good” and that is exactly what our social enterprise food truck and soon to be café is doing. Serving up recovery themed food items such as “The Dr. Bob (bacon burger) and The Bill Wilson (cheeseburger)” named after the Alcoholics Anonymous’ founders.


When you eat here you are doing more than just purchasing a meal, you could be saving a life. The food truck is part of a social enterprise project under Fresh Start Recovery Centre's umbrella with all profits generated going back into helping more men and families get well from the disease of addiction. The Eleven-Eleven staff all identifies that they are in recovery from something…whether that is substance use disorder, co-dependency or process addictions etc.


We are living proof of recovery and inspiring a message of hope and wellness. This is our Do-Good part of our tag line…. a BIG part of this initiative is working on changing the conversation surrounding addiction recovery. Addiction impacts us all, so whether you are in recovery, know someone in recovery, know someone that needs recovery or are somewhere in between, there has never been a better time to bring this issue forward.

Recovery saves lives and impacts families for the better. When you eat with us, you can be confident that you will Eat Good and Do Good.

If you would like to visit us for a meal, check out the Calgary Street Food App or visit our Eleven-Eleven social media pages for details of where we will be parked. If you are interested in booking the truck for your event or your work Christmas social, visit for booking process or contact

recovery, addiction, family healing, calgary treatment centre  

First Father's Day

Tuesday, I became a dad. Yesterday was my one-year anniversary with my amazing and supportive wife. Today is my first Father's Day with our five-day old baby girl Zoey and on Tuesday we will be purchasing a condo in Hawaii (yes Hawaii) where we moved a few months ago. To say my life is a miracle is an understatement; and with the gift I have an opportunity to share it with others in hopes of helping, inspiring, or perhaps creating a little more ease in one’s life. If you are struggling - I get it. I did too. For most of my life. What I know is that you have to want this. With a true desire to change your life, a support system and a higher power - you can and will get better. I offer you how I worked the steps as you must do the work also to get better. Faith without works in dead.

I celebrated my five-year milestone this year and I know working the steps, REALLY working the steps is a game changer.

Step one, powerlessness and unmanageability; that was easy, and obvious if you’ve know any part of my story. Step two, came easily to me as well as I was raised to believe in God and had never really stopped believing, just fell out of practice. Step three, I began saying the third step prayer every day and praying for God to remove my obsession to use, and he did. Step four, my nemesis. I hated step four, and I still do. We bury all that pain for a reason, and the last thing I wanted to do least was dig it all up again, so I made every excuse I could. I thought, why do my step four if there’s nobody here to do my five with. Somebody suggested that I do my step five with the Chaplin, but then my excuse was that I wanted to do my step four the same way we did at Fresh Start, but I couldn’t remember exactly what the format was. So, I put it off again. So basically, I quit doing my steps altogether. But I did remain willing to change, and I did remain abstinent. The only reason I was granted parole was due to my release plan, which was to come to Fresh Start and seek treatment. I was in group my first day in the house, and before long step four came up. I gave it my all, I didn’t want to have to do it again, so I knew I had to get it right the first time. And I still hated it.

You know what, it was the step I got the biggest amount of relief from. When I did my step five I held poor sister Mary hostage for 3 ½ hours, I shared everything with her and with God, even some things I didn’t have the balls to write down. This is the most freeing feeling I’ve ever had. I felt elated. It just felt so good to let everything go. Afterwards we prayed, and she helped me identify my character defects. When I left, I went down to the river to pray and meditate, and a bird shit on me. It wasn’t just a little crap on my shoulder, it filtered down through the trees and sprayed me with a shower of shit. It was in my hair, on my face, my arms my chest, back and legs. I’m not sure what kind of bird it was but it must’ve been massive! Immediately I was furious, and I was about to scream but what came out was laughter. I was surprised by this and thought about it for a minute and was hit with an epiphany; throughout life I’m still going to get shit on, it’s my reaction that must change. I reviewed my step six list, and said my step seven prayer, which I still say every night to this day. For every step is a spiritual principle, and each one of these spiritual principles relates inversely to a character defect. That is to say, they cancel each other out. So, when we practice these principles and all our affairs, and help others, our defects are removed. We work on the outside, and God works on the inside. Step eight, I made a list of everyone I have harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Not to say I was willing right away, but I became willing. Step nine, I’ve only made a few amends so far, but all of them have gone well, better than I expected. I made amends to my parent’s. I took them out for dinner, and afterwards I read them a list everything I had done to harm them throughout my addiction, and I apologized for all of it. By the end of it all they were crying, I was crying, but it was tears of joy and relief. Today I have a better relationship with my parents then I can ever remember having before. Even before I got into drugs. I realize they’re not going to be around forever, and I don’t take them for granted anymore. I can never make direct amends too all the people I sold meth to over the years. It’s just not practical, and it would put me in a dangerous position. So, I found a way to make indirect amends for these actions.

With the help of my sponsee, Chris, I started Calgary’s first Crystal Meth Anonymous group, with the hope of helping others recover from the addiction to crystal meth. The meeting has exploded! This was something that was long overdue in Calgary, and every time I see somebody there that I used to use with it warms my heart. Step 10, I’m really not looking forward to ever doing another step four again, so the way to avoid this is to stay vigilant with my step 10 by admitting my wrongs as soon as I realize I’ve made one, and therefore not getting any further resentments a chance to grow. Step 11, I’m not really one for meditation just prayer and quiet reflection, which might be the same thing, I don’t know. But I do make a habit of praying every day and asking God for knowledge of his will. Step 12, well, here I am caring the message. But not just this, I do a lot of service work for my home group in NA not to mention CMA, I stay connected to Fresh Start, and help by donating my time to the alumni whenever possible. Of course, I make a conscious effort to practice all 12 spiritual principles in all my affairs. We practice Conscious Contact versus Conscious Comfort.

Deepest Gratitude and Respect, Chad Black.


To donate this Father's Day to help more men and famlies get well please click here. 



Impending Doom

Bob L. at the Banff Round Up left us with this aphorism: “I was always cleaning up the wreckage of the future.”

One understanding of this is the fear and anxiety that I experience during the day. Often, I have started the day with a sense of impending doom. At other times, I don’t start with that feeling but acquire it through the day. The feeling seems to arise spontaneously. No reason or cause for that feeling of dread and doom that I can see or discern, but the feeling is there. And I combine this feeling with the alcoholic magic trick of converting feelings to facts. If I feel it, then it must be true.

This sense of impending doom colours my view of the whole world. I don’t know what is going to go wrong, or why it is going to go wrong. But I am convinced something is going to go wrong and it will hurt. It is like having a pair of un-rose coloured glasses, glasses that can filter anything I see and convert it to something bad and something to be feared.

What a way to live.

This feeling can pop up at any time during a day. I could have a great morning, an excellent lunch and then on arriving at the office something could set me off, and I would have a fresh and abiding sense of impending doom.

The frequency of this feeling was so great that I developed an acronym, a short form that I could use to describe my state of fear, I started referring to this feeling as my ID’s. My Impending Doom sense. It was handy for calls with my sponsor. I could short form the problem and say “I am suffering from the ID’s.” Or I could tell my wife Doreen, “I have a case of the ID’s.”

I can tell you, from my experience and observation, that the fastest way to rid myself of the ID’s is to ask for help. I learned after many experiences of the appearance of the ID’s and calling for help, the ID’s went away more and more quickly. Often by simply stating the problem, the ID’s went away. My sponsor got used to me calling, saying “I am suffering from a case of the ID’s… thanks, I just needed to say that. Goodbye.” That was all I needed. Sometimes the ID’s would dissipate as I dialled the number. Sometimes I had to talk about what was going on. Regardless – reaching out evaporated the ID’s.

So, I don’t yet know why they occur, but I do know how to deal with them. Pick up the ##$% phone.

Andy Crooks

recovery, addiction, family healing, calgary treatment centre  

Having a Name Does Not Fix It

Having a name for something, especially a problem is beautiful. It just helps. It can steer to the correct treatment or solution. Or at least away from the wrong remedies or solutions.

But it does not fix the problem, fixing requires action.

I am an alcoholic. I drank alcoholically all the time. That is an excellent name for my condition. It helps to know the name of the problem, but it does not fix it. I have to have a spiritual awakening to fix it, and I can achieve that by doing the steps. The steps have one promise and one promise only. The result of these steps is a spiritual awakening. That will fix the alcoholic problem.

I suffer from Narcissistic Injuries all the time. That is an excellent name for my sensitive nature. Narcissistic Injury – a psychological term - taking personally utterly indifferent and objective events. I do that when my sense of self is fragile and when I depend on life going my way all the time. It helps to have a name, but that does not fix it. I have to do something to fix it.

Taking the steps fixes alcoholism. What fixes Narcissistic Injury? I have only found one solution to these injuries, and that is service. Service in AA, service in life, service at home, service with my children, service - a specific action that will benefit someone else. And that starts with a thought, thinking about the people around me, looking assiduously for something that would help them, make things easier for them, fill a need of theirs. To be thoughtful about someone other than me. That alone might solve the problem, but no, the action is necessary.

Like the Cub Scout helping the lady across the street, thinking about it will not be enough. I have to stop, go out of my way, offer assistance, listen carefully to make sure the old broad wants to cross the street, then extend my arm and help her with the traffic. Complex, but simple.

Doug M. offers service by cleaning sinks where ever he is. Hotels, coffee shops, locker rooms and his own bathrooms at home all benefit from his attention. Service. Chris helps a wheelchair-bound invalid with visits and errands. Service. David volunteers to open up a meeting. Service.

I buy flowers for my wife. Service, maybe, it could be self-interested thoughtfulness.

I have seen self-centred judgmentalism in myself and many of the fellows I work with over the years. It shows up in my inventories. It is a defect of character that manifests itself most strongly in Narcissistic Injuries. The only solution is service; at least that is the only solution I have found.


Andy Crooks


recovery, addiction, family healing, calgary treatment centre  

Jenny From the Block

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is your own background with Fresh Start Recovery?

Jennifer Kent-Charpentier: I have been involved with Fresh Start for over 10 years now, I have been a part of the addiction counselling team from the start of my employment.  

Jacobsen: How did you find them and become involved with them?

Kent-Charpentier: I was at a social event and someone was asking me about my work experience and unbeknownst to me a gentleman was walking by and stopped when he heard me talking and asked about my work history.  He introduced himself as Stacey Petersen and stated he was the Executive Director of Fresh Start Recovery Centre, he suggested I forward him a resume as he was looking for new employees.  I had been working in addictions for quite some time and when my husband and I decided to start a family I took several years off to raise our children.  I was thinking about working again however I was not convinced I wanted to get back into working in addictions as I had spent many years already in the field.  Turns out I had a friend who worked at Fresh Start and I asked her opinion about the validity of sending over my resume.  She told me that if Stacey suggested it, it was sincere. Honestly, I hesitantly sent my resume as I knew Fresh Start was a men’s only facility and I had never worked exclusively with men and really didn’t know if I wanted too. Shortly after I submitted my resume Stacey called me for an interview and before I was a block away he offered me a job and the rest is history.

Jacobsen: When you reflect on your own life, what lead you to an interest and life involvement with Fresh Start Recovery?

Kent-Charpentier: It was sheer coincidence, or serendipity, perhaps both.  I believe that the universe set me on the path I am on today. Any hesitation I may have had was quickly relieved when I got to witness the work that was happening at Fresh Start.  The staff were and still are compassionate, mindful, aware, not hiding behind policies, timelines and agendas.  People are treated with kindness and respect not shame and intimidation.  We not only work with the person that struggles with substance use, but we work with families and community because we know that everyone deserves healing.

Jacobsen: Regarding your own position as the program director, what tasks and responsibilities, and difficulties and enjoyments, come with the position?

Kent-Charpentier: The Program Manager is responsible for coordinating and providing structure and guidance to the counseling team, assisting counseling team with individualized case management, group therapy & bio-psychosocial assessment services including group & family counseling for residents/participants within the facility.  The biggest difficulty is the tragedy of the lives lost to the disease, this never gets easier. However, the joy of seeing someone recover and reconnect with themselves and their families is wonderful.

Jacobsen: What are some ways people can become involved and help out with Fresh Start Recovery?

Kent-Charpentier: There are a lot of ways to become involved and help out. The best thing to do is contact these two staff: and   Wayne is the Director of Fund Development and one of Nicole’s responsibilities is volunteer coordinator.

Jacobsen: What are some of the heartwarming stories that you have come across in your time at Fresh Start Recovery? What has been one of the most drastic, positive life turnarounds that you have seen in your time there?

Kent-Charpentier: There are so many wonderful stories involving men and just as many that are about family and friends.  Every story starts with one person who feels hopeless and lost but with the help of a recovery community, treatment, education and renewal of their faith, amazing changes occur for everyone.  Sometimes the most beautiful changes involve someone learning how to set healthy clear boundaries for themselves and others, and really understanding that they are not alone.  This is beautiful to witness in others when they find hope and an inner strength to keep moving forward.

Jacobsen: Any final thoughts or feelings in conclusion?

Kent-Charpentier:  I am humbled daily by the courage of others who despite their fears make a choice to live in the solution.  This is why I continue to work at Fresh Start Recovery Centre, I have seen people make these changes and am grateful to be a part of this bigger process.

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Young Man

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We rely on your time, talents
and contributions to help men
on their road to recovery.





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So my ten year journey has been one with many, many setbacks and pain, but ultimately so much opportunity for growth. The NA/AA programs and steps let me see who I was, and all the love and encouragement I received from friends and family led me to a life worth living.

You can ask me has it been easy. No! I have never worked so hard in all my years. Yet the work goes on, progress, not perfection! Every day brings me closer to the man I should be, and further from the wretch I was. Keeping growth and gratitude is difficult, but the grace of God and the love I receive, keeps me there.

Is it easy? No!  Is it worth it Yes, yes and yes!

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We ARE a community that shows up for one another –whether you are a donor, supporter, family member, resident, alumni, volunteer, board member, staff or friend of Fresh Start - - this movement is about the tapestry of lives woven together to make lasting change… and change we are making. In ourselves, in others, in this city and country.

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The journey of addiction IS someone’s dark night of the soul… the journey of recovery asks us all to cast a light upon the silence, the shame and the stigma... and that takes courage.  We need you and your support to courageously shine the light. You have an opportunity to cast out the darkness.  You have an opportunity to be someone for someone. 

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7:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Alumni Birthday Celebration

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Family Healing Program

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Family Healing Program Alumni Meeting

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Family Healing Program Alumni Meeting

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Volunteer Orientation