A Candid Talk with Executive Director Stacey Petersen

addiction, calgary treatment centre, family healing, recovery


What is Fresh Start Recovery Centre?

We provide addiction treatment. We own a 40,000 square foot purpose-built addiction treatment centre for men and for families through which we offer an intensive 12- to 16-week live-in program as well as outpatient. We have our family healing program, which is open to anybody in the city, in the country. That’s been affected by someone else’s addiction. They do not have to have somebody in our facility to attend it.

Also, we have second-stage housing. This long-term housing is intended to be safe, sober and affordable. We have a very strong alumni association. They meet here weekly. They celebrate birthdays here monthly. They hold their own events. They also support the main house events. Our 12-stop Ride for Recovery, which happens this August 27th. That’s an absolutely amazing event. It is probably one of the most incredible motorcycle runs that you will do because it is not a typical motorcycle run. There is something to do at every stop. This year’s fourth stop will blow people’s minds.

We are involved in recovery on a lot of different levels. I sit on the National Recovery Advisory Committee, the Alberta Addiction Service Providers, and the Canadian Research Institute for Substance Misuse. We are involved with Faces and Voices of Recovery Canada. A lot of community partnerships that we are involved with seek to provide greater solution and awareness surrounding addiction recovery.

One of them is MESH, Mental Health, Employment, Substance Abuse, and Housing; hence, MESH. That’s with Prospect Services, Horizon Housing, Aventa Addiction Treatment for Women, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), and, of course, Fresh Start Recovery Centre (‘Fresh Start’). The impetus of that is to help individuals enter any one of those organizations with a central agreed-upon intake process. Someone can be accepted into any one of those agencies and then enter into the mix of whether they need employment through Prospect Services, housing through Horizon Housing, women’s treatment through Aventa Addiction Treatment for Women, mental health through CMHA, or men’s treatment through Fresh Start Recovery Centre.

We won a Calgary award in 2012 for community advocacy. We’ve been chosen by the Fraser Institute out of Vancouver as the #1 treatment centre in Canada in 2010, 2013 and 2014. 2014 was the last year they held the awards program. We were also chosen as the #1 social service agency in Canada in 2014. In addition, overall, we earned the Drucker Award for not-for-profit management.

We’ve been in that top 3 every year since 2006. We were chosen since 2007 as a recommended Canadian charity by Charity Intelligence, a four-star agency. Also, Bhayana awards from the United Way supporting our partnership with MESH. So, all of that. Those were all great. However, the story that it tells is that I have the best people in the world working together with me.

These people have hearts the size of cars. All of us together. The Fresh Start crew has about 350 years of recovery under their belts as well as the paper work on the wall. It varies from there. It ranges from 29 to 25, to the 20s, some 15s, a smattering of 10s. I hire people based on their ability to reach another human being.

If you cannot build a genuine relationship with another human being, there’s no point being in this work. The most therapeutic tool you have in a helping relationship is the relationship.

What are some of the factors that might play into that screening of individuals for their ability – in terms of predictive validity – to work with people, reach out to people, and build that relationship?

I’m going to look at transferable skills. I’m going to look at the paperwork. I’m going to sit down and have a conversation. I am going to meet with them. You can tell somebody in a heartbeat if they are genuine, isn’t motivated by fear. I usually have a way of making people feeling comfortable. I try to focus my energy from a loving perspective.

Same for the rest of my crew. I don’t want to work with people that are fear-based. We are guiding people to stay sober and clean so we had better be driven from a place of love rather than fear ourselves. I am not saying we are perfect, far from it, but we strive to be the best we can to serve these men and their families.

Is fear a big problem there? You mentioned it, twice.

I think fear is a big problem in society, Scott. We have two sources through which we govern ourselves on any given day at different levels of intensity. That is either fear or love. I was asked to do a TED talk in 2014. They said, “Do it on innovation and change.” I spoke on fear and love, and how that affects our resiliency and ability to cope day-to-day in life.

The key to all of that is a simple thing. Everybody tries to get that hole filled from outside sources. It is an ‘inside job.’ There are a few things to do this gig. That is love who you are and love what you do. From that, you cannot fail. I like what Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want”.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen


The Government of Alberta supports Recovery Oriented Systems of Care and Recovery-Oriented Communities of Care which include addiction treatment and post-treatment housing. Their goal is to create lasting Recovery in Alberta for individuals, families, and entire communities promoting the fact that Recovery is Real, Attainable, and Sustainable. All Albertans can experience the positive and healing effects of Recovery Capital. For more information please visit their website https://www.alberta.ca/addiction-mental-health.aspx

Mission Fit

Ron Jarrett, owner of Mission Fitness is what a committed and helpful community partner is all about. He trains the clients in the house weekly and believes that true strength and progress can only be made from a solid foundation.  That foundation includes alignment, mobility and stability, and must address any muscular imbalances, weaknesses and lack of connection.  Achieving this level means the body is able to progress safely without fear of injury. www.missionfit.ca

for more information about Fresh Start Recovery Centre or any of our programs.

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