Keeping the spirit of volunteerism alive at MARR
There is an article on Facebook that has recently gone viral: 37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old by Mike Spohr. In the twentieth spot: ‘Not Volunteering Enough.’ Spohr writes that “nearing the end of one’s life without having helped to make the world a better place is a great source of sadness for many.” In fact, many people believe the best way to serve God is by serving others.
In the Beginning
Since its humble beginnings 40 years ago, MARR has remained close to the core values on which the organization was founded. One of MARR’s six guiding principles, People Come First, promotes a healthy and strong recovery community from within, including clients, families, alumni, staff and volunteers. Every person plays an important role in bringing lasting recovery to drug- and alcohol-addicted individuals. It’s a team effort.
Volunteers Make a Difference
From the time MARR came into existence in 1975, to where it stands today, volunteers have always been a vital part of the program. “Early on, MARR recognized the benefit of having volunteers join our clients in group therapy,” says CEO Guerry Dyes. “It’s a way for community members to understand the disease of addiction and for clients to break out of isolation.” The Junior League of Atlanta (JLA), an organization of women committed to promoting volunteer work, helped launch the volunteer division of MARR’s treatment facility. These individuals devoted themselves to offering love, tolerance and acceptance to the clients of MARR. They helped bring chemically dependent men and women out of seclusion and into connection with others.
While MARR strives to stay ahead of the curve in the educational arena of addiction treatment, the organization also stays true to its traditions and the recovery methods that have been proven effective for many years. This not only includes the 12-Step Program, the importance of spirituality and the value of the therapeutic community, but also the volunteers who have been such an integral part of MARR since the beginning. “Our volunteers are more than just individuals who give their time to help those who are struggling with addiction,” says Dyes. “They have a true heart for people. They keep the spirit of MARR alive.”
If you would like more information about how to become a volunteer, as well as our next volunteer training, please visit our Volunteers at MARR page. We appreciate your willingness to serve our recovery community!
MARR was named ‘Top 10 Places to Volunteer in Atlanta’ by GreatNonProfits.org! Read more.
From Our Volunteers
My name is Stacee and I have been a volunteer at MARR since May 2008. I participate in the Men’s Spiritual Group at Peachtree Presbyterian Church on Monday evenings; Family Support Group and Family Spiritual Group, both on Tuesday evenings; and Men’s Spiritual Group at Tucker First United Methodist Church on Wednesday nights.
My son, Skylar, came to MARR as a client in October 2007. Because the organization had done so much for him, my husband and I wanted to give back; volunteering seemed the perfect thing to do. Then, Skylar overdosed and died just two weeks before volunteer training was to begin. I wasn’t sure if I should continue pursuing the volunteer path, but something gave me the courage to go. I now know that ‘something’ was God and Skylar.
Spending time with the clients, especially in the beginning but even today, helps me find answers to my son’s struggles that I would not have found otherwise. I better understand the disease of addiction and, more importantly, the loving souls within each of these tortured men and women. I also experienced my own recovery, though not a drug or alcohol addict. I learned how to live life on life’s terms and come to a place of acceptance. Clients allow me to share such an intimate part of their struggles and nurture their recovery in a way that satisfies my maternal instincts.
Aside from being a loving mother and wife, volunteering is the most important thing I have ever done. I have gained so much from my time at MARR and the extraordinary people I’ve met (staff and clients), including peace and serenity no matter what life may bring.
My name is Terry and I have been a MARR volunteer for more than four years. I participate primarily in Wednesday groups and activities, when the clients of the Men’s Recovery Center visit Camp Donnie Brown. When time permits, I also join the Men’s Spiritual Group at Peachtree Presbyterian Church on Monday evenings; Family Support Group and Family Spiritual Group on Tuesday nights; Men’s Spiritual Group at Tucker First United Methodist Church on Wednesday evenings; and the Grief Group at the Men’s Recovery Center on Thursday nights. I am also present during Family Week at MARR, when my wife, Stacee, shares her own story of family recovery.
The most unexpected thing to emerge from volunteering at MARR was the awareness of my own brokenness and culpability. When I read the AA Promises for the first time, I realized just how flawed my own life had become. I wanted the Promises for myself. Through this process, I have received the gift of honesty. I never imagined I could regain some sense of honor in my life.
I would recommend volunteerism to any and all individuals who express an interest, be it through MARR or wherever. The experience of giving back the gift you received yourself is priceless.
Bill W. and Dr. Bob, founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), created the entire Program of AA around service work, in addition to the 12 Steps, meetings, sponsorship and a connection with a Higher Power. Page 102 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful.” Thankfully, for those who suffer from the disease of addiction, there is a solution; recovering alcoholics/addicts are encouraged to give back that which has been so freely given to them by sharing their experience, strength and hope to the alcoholic/addict who still suffers. To AA’ers and other members of related fellowships, service work is more than just volunteerism—it’s their lifeline.MARR’s Volunteer Program is made up of people who are both in recovery and others who are not. The purpose of having volunteers is to help create a loving environment in which clients feel safe and accepted as they reconnect and recover from addiction. MARR believes lending a hand to another human being—and expecting nothing in return—is the true meaning of joy.