Advancing the Recovery Culture

September 20, 2010

Drew Horn, co-founder of The Turn A Frown Around Foundation in New Jersey, generated laughs and smiles throughout The Margaret Clark Morgan Forum Series on Advancing the Recovery Culture on Monday, September 20th.

Over 270 people were moved and inspired when Drew relayed his personal story of being homeless, having a mental illness and many attempted suicides. His pact with his daughter to “take suicide off the table” was the catalyst for his new life’s mission. Drew’s mission and goal is to fill the hole of loneliness and empty thoughts through companionship, smiles, hugs and personal visits.

Entertaining the audience with his New Jersey home spun humor, he challenged everyone listening to start “smile stations”, a place where loneliness ends and friendship begins.

Using a yellow “smile catcher” he catches smiles and brings them to a staggering fifty percent of nursing home residents and seventy-five percent of mental hospital patients nationwide who are living without visitors or friends.

Drew Horn’s sincerity was demonstrated as he gave away warm hugs and one-on-one personal encouragement to each person who lined up after his presentation. The fun continued throughout the day as he caught clinicians, recovering adults, family members and administrators in his “smile catcher.” The contagious effects of Drew Horn’s style were apparent at the end of the day when people left with big smiles on their faces.

During the 1980’s, Columbiana County led the way in Ohio for having recovery inspired practices. The local administrators and clinicians recognized the importance of including people with lived experiences in the planning, conducting and evaluating of activities in their mental health system. A panel of five individuals offered perspectives on how that process evolved over the years.

Members from Shining Reflections, a consumer-operated service located in East Liverpool, attended and staffed a resource table where they displayed and sold their art.

All day long forum participants stopped by to pick up a recovery carnation and talk about the importance of art, purposeful activity and the premise that “you feel better when you work.”

Following lunch, Brad Zimmerman, Personal Mastery Programs, suggested we align ourselves with others who desire growth. It is these people who will help drive hope, encouragement and self-fulfillment. Upon completing a reflective activity, forum guests were able to identify their strengths and learn how to develop their skills into personal growth.

Returning as forum moderator, Steven Kopecky led an interactive exercise early in the day to encourage new thinking. Recovery is fostered by looking to the future. He demonstrated the change in thinking by using a worksheet “Individual Service Plan using a long-term view.”




Comments from Forum Participants

The long term view worksheets were so helpful. Simple clinical changes and my interactions can make a huge difference in someone’s recovery.

I thought the reflective exercise to identify strengths was excellent. I will use it with my management teams.

Brad Zimmerman challenged me to rethink leadership. I loved his comment that a leader’s job is to grow people, not tasks.

Drew Horn’s ideas are wonderful and I will us a lot of his information that I have heard today in my job.

I want to set up a Smile Station. Drew was so inspirational to me. I admire his courage and passion to help others.

The tree concept by Columbiana County was very inspiring and appropriate. I want to learn more about their programs. This event helped me reflect on my behaviors and interactions. I forget that people can be lonely, especially when life is hectic. I plan to smile more and show genuine interest in the people I work with. I can renew my own mission to help clients in new and different ways. I’ve been looking for ideas. This forum generated ideas on personal growth and empowerment. The Columbiana County activities inspired me and I feel re-energized. I will share the information from today with my staff.