Fall Edition | November 2020

A Few Words About Gratitude 

By: Peggy Robinson, Director of Operations & Special Programs
Dear Friends & Supporters,
Gratitude is a concept that is very important to folks in recovery. In fact, the term is used so much that it can often seem trite, thus losing its true impact. And with the human mind’s tendency to focus on negativity, being grateful can be a challenging frame of mind.

I never truly understood the full meaning of gratitude until I was faced with one of my life’s greatest challenges-my son’s addiction. During the worst moments, I learned to be grateful for the tiniest thing, things that in better times I would not have even noticed. As our lives transitioned through and away from those difficult days, I found myself being a gratitude-sharer and a mentor to other parents who felt the same despair that I had felt. 


That is when I began to really understand what it meant to be in recovery. Being in recovery is being so Grateful that one is compelled to share their gratitude with others. To share that gratitude in the hope that the sharing and the connectivity that it creates can be a source of hope for those who have felt no hope.  Finding joy to replace despair and gratitude for those gifts bestowed upon us by the Creator.

Recently, I spent a week in the Smoky Mountains with my husband of 28 years. One evening, during a tiny moment in the earth’s rotation, we watched the sun slip behind the blue blanket of mountains and I remember being overwhelmed with gratitude for the last 5 years, how our son was saved and how, in his saving, we saved each other and our relationship.  We remain connected Read More 


"I am grateful to have the opportunity to be included in a Communities For Recovery RSPS Training with so many people in recovery who are extremely excited and passionate about gaining the knowledge and skills sets to be able to coach others individually working together to achieve the most beneficial and comfortable approach to obtaining their goals."
 ~ C.A. Cowser, Volunteer

Board of Directors Update 


The Communities For Recovery Board of Directors held their quarterly meeting on Friday, November 6, 2020.  We are pleased to announce that Michael Haynes was elected Board President for the upcoming year. Michael has been a member of the board for eight years and is dedicated to helping people who struggle with addiction.   

This was also Valerie Milburne's last meeting as a member of the board.  Her leadership, passion, and strong voice of advocacy will be missed. Valerie has volunteered at Communities for Recovery for 16 years and served 6 years on the board.  As president and treasurer, Valerie provided critical leadership during tremendous periods of organizational growth.  Valerie has been a steadfast supporter of the volunteer program and truly models our motto of "Give to Keep." Thank you, Valerie, for all you to do to support the recovery community. Read about Valerie’s gratitude for Communities For Recovery below. 

Please visit the Board of Directors page on our website here for more information on each of our board members. We are grateful for their service and leadership! 

Gratitude for Sweet 16!

By: Valerie Milburn


Sweet 16! I’m celebrating 16 years as a member of the Communities for Recovery family. I started volunteering with CforR in 2004, and joined the Board of Directors in 2013. 

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessing, lessons, connections, and recovery that have filled my journey with CforR. My many years of volunteering at Austin Recovery and Austin State Hospital, and peer recovery coaching, have brought a deep sense of purpose and meaning to my life.

I’m just one of a thousand or so volunteers who have served CforR’s mission since it was founded in 2003.  From the beginning, volunteers have been the heart and soul of CforR.  We started out in a converted closet at Shoal Creek Hospital, with one part-time staff member, and volunteers were the workforce.  CforR volunteers have touched literally tens of thousands of people by bringing meetings and support groups to hospitals, treatment centers, and jails. Many of the people introduced to CforR through these volunteer-led meetings and support groups have become volunteers themselves.  Thus the CforR family has grown.  



Recovery is not about sobriety; recovery is about connection.  CforR volunteers have served as this connection for so many in early and on-going recovery.  Thank you to all our volunteers.

We have grown yet another way – our fabulous staff.  Not until we moved into our current location on the Austin State Hospital campus did we begin building a staff.  We now have 26 staff members, 20 of whom are peer recovery coaches.  Thinking about CforR’s staff brings me back to the concepts of gratitude and connections.  Our staff averages 1,000 connections with recoverees monthly. This is amazing! I am so grateful for the talent, dedication, and commitment of our staff.

Another group of people who make CforR’s work possible is our community partners.  The Austin recovery community is a tightly knit group. The co-operation, cheerleading, technical support, and funding from our community partners are vital to our success.  There are too many of you to thank individually here, but you know whom you are. Thank you for believing in and supporting our mission all these years.

As my years on the Board of Directors come to an end in 2020, I will refocus on my other volunteer roles with CforR.  2021 will be a year of change in many ways, but a heart filled with gratitude is a constant in my life.


Community Partner Highlight: SIMS Foundation

The SIMS Foundation is a 25-year old non-profit founded by those mourning the loss of Sims Ellison, a musician who died by suicide after years struggling with depression.  The SIMS Foundation is the only non-profit of its kind in the United States.  They provide mental health and substance use recovery services and supports for musicians, music industry professionals and their dependent family members.  Through education, community partnerships, and accessible managed care, SIMS seeks to destigmatize and reduce mental health and substance use issues, while supporting and enhancing the wellbeing of the music community at-large.

SIMS has a network of over 130 providers and clients receive services at a vastly reduced rate from the average rates for the area.  SIMS maintains a full array of treatment options and clients are guided to the treatment that best suits their needs. These services include counseling, and psychiatric services, substance use disorder services and supports and comprehensive case management for each client and their loved ones. 

In 2018, SIMS added a focus on prevention and education through our Music Venue Trainings. The core curriculum has three modules: Mental Health 101, Substance Use Recovery 101 w/ Naloxone Training (facilitated in partnership with Communities for Recovery) and SAFE Bar (facilitated in partnership with the Sexual Assault Response and Resource Team.)

COVID-19 has been especially hard on musicians with the loss of so many live music venues and opportunities.  CforR appreciates the SIMS Foundations for their support of our local musicians! 

To learn more about the SIMS Foundation Click Here

I am grateful to be alive, sober, mentally sound, and have the ability to get physically fit. I’m grateful for friends, family, and unfashionable love that reminds me daily why I fought so hard to get here. 

Thank you for asking. I needed the reminder."

~ Debra Whitehead, Volunteer  
Save the Date and Support Communities For Recovery on December 1st
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