Welcome to a guest blog from our lead office volunteer, Nancy Brophy. Nancy has been with United Way for a long time. She’s been a star volunteer in our two days a week for almost 8 years! Here’s her Live United story. Dee Anne
Hi! First off let me give you a little background about how I became involved with United Way. I was in long term treatment at Addictions Recovery Center, living at the women’s house and the ARC hosted and event called “Walk with Me.” That was a mentor program of WiLL, Women in Living Leadership, a United Way program.
It was a very nice sit down dinner and Diane Matthews, who at that time was the Assistant Director of United Way, sat at my table.
I don’t think I had six months clean at the time and still in somewhat of a fog, found it pretty unbelievable that successful, strong women would want to get to know me or give a hoot and care about me. I definitely hadn’t learned to trust the process yet.
Diane decided to become my mentor and we started hanging out. She’d take me to coffee or just come by to visit. She took me to her job and introduced me to her co-workers.
This was in 2009 when they were located on East Main Street. She had me and (my X at the time) help with direct mail. The X thing didn’t work out but the mentorship, I’m happy to say, did.
Then one day she picked me up to hang out with her and we went to a Head Start conference at the old Red Lion and she was introducing me to people and when asked me to share my story. Seriously? There were over 300 people there and I did it. That may have been my break through moment.
I became like an open book after that. It seemed like you normal people liked me. That was a fear of mine in treatment. What if I did all the hard work involved in getting clean and changing my life, and no one liked me or I didn’t like myself.
United Way moved to Spring Street and I did lots of direct mail, brought in people to help me and the next thing I know Dee Anne asks me if I’d be the Free Bus Pass Lady. It involved giving eligible people (I knew some of them from recovery) a ten ride pass on RVTD. I did that for over a year. Needless to say by then I’d become a familiar face around United Way.
And somewhere in there I have actually been a guest speaker at the October WiLL Event. I’d become a poster child or a success story of what can happen when someone takes a chance, steps out of the norm and chooses to become a friend to someone like me.
Now I volunteer 2 days a week – more during campaign. I post new events on the United Way of Jackson County’s website calendar and mostly do whatever they need me to do. I bring my companion Chow dog, King, with me, we feel safe and wanted there.
A few years ago I became a mentor to a gal that I had lived with at the women’s house. Stephanie had a history of relapse that we didn’t pay much attention to. I liked her and decided I was going to help her. She was very good at doing the hard work, getting everything back. Like her little boy, going to court and groups. She got a job, worked hard, got her own place and a car. It seems like I gave her a thousand rides and she really was my friend. We laughed a lot, she was a very funny person.
What I didn’t realize was she had an addiction to men. It became obvious to her oldest daughter and she wasn’t doing what she needed to do. The last time I saw Steph was the day her daughter and I confronted her and we made arrangements for her little guy to go live with his big sister because once again his Mom had chosen drugs, alcohol and men over him or them.
A few weeks ago I was tagged on a face book post that Stephanie was critical in the hospital and they were trying to find her daughter. I called Lauren and she had already been contacted and had been to the hospital. Her Mom had collapsed from a blood clot in her lung and too many other things to mention. She was on life support and she didn’t make it.
These kinds of things just make most people want to give up. Not you and me I guess. Here we are trying to help, not giving up, trying to raise money and awareness, giving to agencies who are better qualified to help them than me.
There are obstacles along the way of life, in recovery they say life happens. This year on January 1, New Year’s morning, I went out to my van to go to church and the front wheels and tires had been stolen off my van. It was on the ground! Who laughs at a picture like that on facebook?? I’ll leave you guessing.
It’s been a very challenging year for me to say the least. With health issues, lots of invasive medical tests, a trip to OHSU in Portland and the best news, I’m kicking cancer’s butt!
I love my dear friends or family at United Way. I really don’t know where I’d be without you.
Without all of you! Without all of you doing this work in our community where would we be? I applaud all of you for caring and accepting the challenge. It makes all the difference.
My Live United moment has been a journey, not a mere moment. I intend to stay on the journey. Because that is how I continue to LIVE UNITED. Nancy Brophy