I first discovered The Haven about a year after I stopped drinking. A few of my friends in recovery had told me about a new sober living in Philadelphia that was designed for college students. Word had gotten around that the students at The Haven at Drexel had started a new 12 step meeting on Saturday nights and that the meeting needed support. At that time I lived with my family about 45 minutes from the city. There were a number of 12 step meetings in my area that I could attend, but I had never heard of a sober living facility that catered to college students and I had to check it out. I showed up at The Haven that Saturday night with few expectations. Maybe I would make a few new friends and hopefully the meeting would be recovery-oriented, but I certainly didn't intend to make a habit out of it. But I was mistaken.
I was so awestruck by these young college students who were building their lives on a foundation of recovery. Not only would I attend that meeting nearly every Saturday for the following years, I committed myself to get more involved with The Haven. I reached out to the co-founders of The Haven, Sharon and Holly, and I told them my story. I shared my passion for the recovery movement and my commitment to giving back to the community that had undoubtedly saved my life. A few e-mails and a couple of interviews later, I was welcomed onto the Haven team as house manager at The Haven at Drexel.
Months before I was brought on board at The Haven, I was accepted into a Masters of Social Work program (inspired by my future coworker Aly.) I assumed the role of house manager a few weeks before I started my masters program. The Haven helped me to balance my recovery and my education so that I could devote the time and resources to both equally. The differences in my academic performance between my bachelor's degree (pre-sobriety and without the Haven's support) and my Master's degree were immense. I was suddenly present for my education. I was engaged (not to mention present) in class, I turned in all of my assignments on time, and my GPA soared. I graduated near the top of my class, a feat I'd never even considered possible. And other areas of my life were transformed in similar ways. My social life flourished. My relationships with my family improved immeasurably. I traveled to Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. I even had a leadership role on a committee that organized a conference for young people in recovery that attracted nearly 1000 participants!
I credit the Haven with providing me the foundation I needed to help me reach my goals and to develop goals that formerly had seemed out of my reach. As graduation approached, they vowed to keep me on their team and hired me as Program Director at The Haven at the University of San Francisco. I've since moved across the country to try to help the students at the Haven at USF have an experience that mirrors the one I had at The Haven at Drexel. I've had a front row seat to the transformative effect The Haven has on it's students and I plan to remain a part of this team for as long as I can.