National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month offers a time to celebrate Reverend Vaile Leonard’s commitment to support women recovering from addictions and provide housing for them since 1999. Leonard, founder and CEO of Light of Truth Center, Inc. (LTC), decided to start a “love-based leadership organization” to help other women who were also seeking to walk a life of sobriety. Leonard has been in long-term drug and alcohol recovery herself for 30 years.
The Baltimorean’s journey expanded after picking up a sponsee from a recovery house, Leonard was “overwhelmed” by deplorable conditions she observed.
“I often describe it as a spiritual experience because I just began to weep,” Leonard said, feeling that people could be treated better. “From that moment to this very moment, I have been on fire for serving women. For providing safe space. For providing space that is clean, that is conducive to recovery, and that is loving and caring.”
According to information provided on LTC’s website, the non-profit organization “embraces a new innovative, three-phase process of recovery, transition, and restoration. It is described as “an innovative residential and outpatient therapeutic treatment program providing the necessary tools and techniques to aid recovering women with the life enhancing skills they need to succeed in their recovery journey.”
Leonard explained that some women find LTC through other programs that last from one to six months. Since other housing accommodations are needed afterwards, referrals are made in those cases. Others discover Light of Truth Center through the website. Four houses and a training center are available to women who need support. The confidential addresses are in Baltimore.
Leonard added that women who are at least 21 years old can remain in the LTC program’s clinical service and some form of leveled housing as long as they choose. Options range from including low intensity residential treatment to outpatient clinical services.
“I don’t tell people how long it takes to recover. That’s personal and we will support you as long as you choose,” Leonard said.
She noted that people generally hear horror stories connected to addiction instead of long-term recovery successes.
“Rarely do we hear those stories that these same people do recover,” Leonard said. “They do rebuild their lives and many of them become major players in community services and nonprofit organizations.”
Vanessa, who is LTC’s longest participant, is an example of someone else who is walking a long-term drug and alcohol recovery journey. She desired to be somewhere safe after needing housing and finding herself unable to work. Vanessa began talking to Leonard about her situation.
“I’m 19 years clean,” she said. “I’ve been here for 10 years.”
Vanessa has her own private room in what she described as “a very nice house.”
“The Light of Truth told me to learn to love yourself, and let others love you, and that’s what I found,” she said.
Tina, who has been clean from alcohol for a little over 16 months, is new at LTC. Her daughter did not want her to live alone in an apartment after participating in a different program. A friend helped her to apply to LTC.
“I decided to come to this program because it fits my needs. It’s not somewhere that I need to worry about ever really having to leave,” Tina said. “The people that are here are extremely loving, extremely caring.”
Erica, a peer recovery housing specialist, completed LTC’s program. She was initially in a few rehab programs because of alcohol and crack cocaine. LTC was highly recommended to her after she had been clean for nearly a year. She has the responsibilities of a house manager, but she also works with the ladies in a family-oriented environment.
“I feel like I’ve grown a lot as far as how to help other people, because I didn’t know how to help myself, but now I’m learning how to help other people,” Erica said.
LTC has been greatly impacted by COVID, according to Leonard. The public can support women like Vanessa, Tina, and Erica by attending LTC’s 23rd annual fundraiser on Friday, Sep 30, 2022, at 7:00 p.m., 3605 Coronado Rd. in Milford Mill, Md. The upcoming event will include a celebration of recovery; dinner; entertainment; and dancing. It marks the first in-person fundraiser since the pandemic began.
“Every penny of it goes directly to either programming or you know something for the women,” Leonard said.
Visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ltc-23rd-annual-fundraiser-tickets-399290798527 to purchase tickets. Individuals who cannot attend the fundraiser in-person may use a Zoom link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89016731575?pwd=NVZtOExac25vRGRVK1pCdzNKN1h2dz09 to view the event. Learn more about LTC via https://www.lightoftruthcenter.org.