As I think back over the years, what comes to me about my experience at RAP overall is that RAP became my family. I entered the program on July 13, 1970. I was 32 years old. I think I was the oldest client and I believe I was the first client through the door.
A friend told me that I should try this program just starting up in Washington, D. C. I had already been in several treatment programs and actually had just relapsed after leaving treatment at Gaudenzia House in Philadelphia. When my friend told me that I could bring my 2-year-old son into the program with me, I was sold; otherwise I would have had to place him in foster care since I had no family to leave him with.
Within 4 hours of being told about RAP, I was at the front door of the program—1904 T Street, N. W. The building is no longer there, but that was our first location. My most vivid memory about that building is that we did not have a kitchen sink. We washed dishes in the shower.
RAP allowed me to express my anger and grief over the death of my mother and my fiance dying in a car accident soon thereafter. No matter how foul my mood or my mouth, I was always treated with respect in RAP and was given unconditional love.
I was in treatment at RAP for two years. When I left, I went on to hold other jobs starting with the IRS. I became an entrepreneur running my own secretarial service and then worked 8 years with a law firm. I attribute the ability to achieve gainful employment to the confidence that I gained in myself during my experience at RAP. Up to that point I never thought I could hold a legitimate job.
I came back to work at RAP in 1989. I am now the Human Resources and Intake Manager. It’s not so much a job for me now; it feels more like a mission. I feel as if I have something to give someone every day. This is God’s work and I am only doing God’s will.
Now is the best part of my life. I am blessed with having relatively good health and a healthy mind; I bought a home six years ago; and my son is doing well with his own business. I also have a daughter who came to RAP in 1973 while she was a senior in high school. She did not have a drug problem but character disorder issues. She was allowed to graduate with her class after leaving RAP and is also doing very well today. Overall, the RAP experience has been a real family affair.
I am so grateful for RAP. And what I’d say to anyone who is facing despair is what I’ve learned: “Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery”; “Dare to struggle – dare to win!”