Empowering individuals in recovery to focus on sobriety during COVID-19

“My six-month-old son and I live in transitional housing. I have been unable to work because of COVID-19 and need help to pay rent. Living here gives me accountability, a greater support network and exponential opportunities. Before living here, I was living with my mother who is actively using – it was very hard to focus on my recovery. I do not want to have to go back to a toxic environment because I can’t afford my rent.”

This is the personal story of a young woman named Sandra* who submitted a scholarship application in seek of financial support to Families Against Narcotics of Washtenaw County (Washtenaw FAN). Though she expected a stimulus check and applied for unemployment and other government assistance, she had yet to see any of it in her bank account.

The ongoing pandemic has created similar predicaments for many others like Sandra – all feeling the financial stress, all worried it will affect their sobriety, all hoping for a solution. Fortunately, these individuals could turn to Washtenaw FAN to help them through a difficult situation.

In April, Washtenaw FAN President Mario Nanos and his team awarded individuals in recovery with $10,000 worth of transitional housing scholarships so they can focus on maintaining sobriety; this was made possible thanks to an emergency grant from the Jamie Daniels Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. Nearly 40 individuals were awarded approximately $250 – about half the average cost of one month’s housing.

“In effect, these small stipends impacted many more than 40 individuals,” Nanos said. “Helping people to focus on recovery has implications for not only themselves, but their spouses, children and loved ones.”

Maintaining sobriety is hard work, especially during the ongoing crisis when the level of difficulty to do this has gone up appreciatively. Now more than ever, these individuals need the support and coaching provided at transitional living. It is the best place for them to be.

“We are grateful to Jamie Daniels Foundation for allowing us to help Sandra and others like her in recovery,” Nanos said. “This little bit of money is going a long way. It is not just financial reassurance, it is empowerment – it is giving these individuals hope and faith that no matter how tough things get, everything will be okay.”

*Name has been changed to protect identity