I recently spent an afternoon with Jim Stands at our White River Recovery Center (WRRC). It's not a treatment center but a resource to help people maintain sobriety after treatment. At the heart of WRRC is "The White River Out-of-Towners" AA group which has been meeting faithfully for thirty years and includes three members who celebrated 100 years of combined sobriety last year. Jim tells me that the group's name came from the fact that when it began most of its members, who wanted a "really good meeting," were from outside White River.
When Jim returned from training at the Betty Ford Institute in 2006, St. Francis Mission purchased a house which he in turn fixed up for the WRRC. Besides staffing the house, Jim is involved in outreach efforts, meeting with people in the Rosebud jails and, co-facilitating the court-ordered classes for those convicted of driving while intoxicated. As Jim put it, they were given "a little nudge from the judge" toward healing. "We're not bad people trying to be good. We're sick people trying to get well."
Addiction is a powerful disease that affects people of all races and WRRC is there to bring them together and, in Jim's words, to "help people to help themselves." Jim is a firm believer that freedom from chemical dependency is just a beginning. What has to follow is freedom from all dependency. He said: "I didn't want to be dependent on the government or anybody. I wanted to be free." The challenge is "how do you unwind yourself from paternalism?" Jim didn't want handouts. He wanted to be responsible, as he put it, "first to myself and to my Creator, and then you can be responsible in your family and then to the Oyate, the people." Pointing to his heart, he told me: "The spiritual melody starts here and then goes out."
The melody in Jim's heart is going out around the Rosebud and in fact the world. Calls and emails come from all over and he's often invited to speak at conferences around the country. Jim Stands is an example of WELLNESS leading to COMMUNITY which in turn fosters LEADERSHIP.