We have many guests with us today. Mainly students from Denmark, which is really cool because they are so far from home and they are here to visit our class. Barb Williamson is our guest speaker today and she runs recovery houses within the Philadelphia area. She began the class telling us about her story and how she grew up in a really good family. But by the time she was 15 she entered treatment for alcohol. However, this treatment center was a double edged sword because one of the patients in there with her gave her heroin to try for the first time. By the time she was 17 she stated that she was addicted to heroin and homeless living in Kensington.
In 2012 she was told about a recovery house. She decided to give it a shot because everything else she tried never worked. “Mom and Dad didn’t understand and I felt empty,” she said. So, the recovery house gave her a purpose because there are rules, but also doctors and nurses are there for you all the time. She stated that she needed that type of structure and guidelines to really come into her own. At the recovery house, she spent a year finding herself. She learned how to live again. She absolutely loved it.
Williamson worked many jobs such as being a dish washer and such, but running a recovery house was her calling. At 14 months sober she opened her first recovery house. It was a struggle for her at first, but once certain people started to see it was a really nice recovery house and seeing her in the paper, it started to slightly take off. Now her mom helped her open the first recovery house but she made the best thing her mom did for her was say no to giving her more money to open another one. One day, Jim Worthington a man she didn’t even really know, wrote her a check and she turned that check into a business for helping others.
She now has 13 recovery houses, the Way of Life Recovery House, that offer intensive outpatient therapy after rehab. As well as therapy for trauma victims, especially for anyone that had a traumatic situation while homeless in Kensington. All of her staff are Narcan trained just in case, because things can happen. Her job is to make sure people can come to a safe environment to recover. She has seen really high highs and really low lows. She is someone that has seen both sides of this thing we call addiction. Coming from someone who was homeless in Kensington to now owning recovery houses, she is the definition of recovery. She is an inspiration to everyone who struggles with addiction and is proof that anyone can do anything.