It’s All in the Name….


By: Anastasia E. Tsouroupakis


I have had the honor and pleasure of writing blogs for the Oasis Clothing Bank and The Oasis Addiction and Recovery Society for the last few months, and meeting many of the wonderful people who run both these organizations; whose explicit purpose it is to inspire, champion and empower individuals to overcome addiction and to celebrate recovery.  I have also had the privilege of sharing a cup of coffee with these people as they tell me about their own unique and individual path to recovery but for me, there was one story that resonated most because it embodied the entire mission of the Oasis Clothing Bank and the Oasis Addiction and Recovery Society.  One summer many years ago, a group of men in recovery were employed by the Danforth BIA (if you are not a native Torontonian this is area is also known as Greektown) through the Oasis Addiction and Recovery Society, to tend to the many hanging baskets, potted plants and little trees that adorned their streets and as there were no external hoses to water with,  they were instructed to go into the stores and ask the  owners to fill their watering cans.  This however did not bode well with the group of men, they tried everything to avoid the stores on the Danforth in search of water.  Eventually their supervisor noticed that the flowers had begun to wilt and the soil in the pots had gone dry, when the supervisor asked the men why they weren’t watering the flowers they simply replied “We have no water.”  Astonished the supervisor replied “But I told you to go into the stores and ask them to fill your watering cans!”  Each one of them looked at the other, and the bravest one spoke out explaining that they were too ashamed to go into the stores because some of them had robbed these same stores ,and gave the owners a hard time back when they were in the throes of their addiction.   Their supervisor simply replied “But that was then and this is now.” He took the crew into the stores and introduced them to the owners and staff or more appropriately re-introduced them to the staff and owners, they not only got their watering cans filled but were invited to come back, and some of the stores even treated them to a coffee on their break. This was a pivotal point for these men for many reasons; firstly because their supervisor was the first person to show them that he accepted them for the newly transformed individuals they had become and secondly, he forced the store owners to acknowledge and accept this transformation.  This reintroduction allowed this group of men to mentally break away from not only their mistakes but their past as a whole.  The supervisor commanded respect for these men by the store owners, but also demanded that the workers forgive themselves and continue with the business of living.    The directors of the Oasis Recovery and Addiction Society are former alcoholics and have been in recovery for years, their dedication and noble work through the Society is a source of pride and a stellar example for all those individuals living with recovery.  We as a society should acknowledge their constant struggle to transform and change, and look upon their re-emergence into society with a wonder similar to the way we look at the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly; perhaps this will even help to inspire change in our own lives.  Perhaps if we ceased calling it recovery and instead called it “reclamation”…  Former addicts “reclaiming” their place in society.    Sounds so much better. Cities are “reclaiming” at risk neighborhoods making them safe and livable.  The term “reclamation” suggests hope, renewal, and revival. How much more positively would our society look upon this group of individuals?   Would we be more ready to welcome them back into our workplace, our neighborhoods, and our lives?  Would there be fewer incidents of relapse if every person in “reclamation” felt the full acceptance and support of our society?

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