Flagler Open Arms Recovery Heroes

Sharing our stories of recovery is an act of courage. For years, our recovery journeys were cloaked in secrecy. Like thousands of other recovery organizations, Flagler OARS is intent on bringing recovery out of the shadows and into the hero spotlight. 

We are proud to share the words of our recovery heroes here!

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You may know this month's Recovery Hero as a succesful local business woman. Here, we are proud to introduce her as a local woman living in successful recovery.

Every time someone who can relate to her story reaches out to Heather, she is eager to help!  She remembers how she felt when she thought she had no way out.  Having no possessions to her name and strapped with a large balance of medical bills, Heather worked through five years of counseling to find the root cause of her addiction.

Heather is an example of why there is no one  pathway to recovery.  Recovery is different for everyone.  Stigma was a big reason why her recovery was stagnated.  Heather needed to answer the question “WHY should I be proud of not drinking?”…take a look to discover Heather’s answer!

January Recovery Hero, Heather

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She relied on her church, her family, her friends and her support network to help her stay on track. It is her faith, her family, her therapist and her support base that keeps her strong.  

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Heather is grounded in her motivation to help other through a Nepal Mission trip. 

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What does Heather’s recovery look like?

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Recovery looks like a business owner, a successful realtor in Flagler County and recipient of Realtor of the Year in 2018.  

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Recovery looks like long walks with her furry friend. 

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Recovery looks like a healthy, alcohol-free relationship with Chris whom she totally adores. 


Each and every day Heather makes the decision all over again to stay in recovery. Each and every day, she remembers her WHY is to help others. Each and every day, she strives to live her life in the light.

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This month, our recovery heroes’ story is one of Christmas miracles.

It’s a story that never should have happened. 

He had a long, long history of revolving door detox. She had been living  as a homeless woman.

Fresh out of another rehabilitation experience, they met at  a 12-step program meeting one evening. 

Of course, we all know the last thing you do is begin a relationship...

when you are on the first mile of your recovery journey. 

But, that is exactly what this couple did.

Editor's Note: Please enjoy this Christmas montage as we honor our Flagler OARS newly-weds. Join us in sending them wishes for hope, faith, love, and the ability to keep Christmas in their hearts throughout the years.

Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.




"Strange, isn't it?  Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"



...recovery mends those holes


Recovering Together: Their God Sent Help

If you ask how the two of them can possibly recover together, they will  tell you it's not about the two of them. Both of  them say their recovery is about God sending the right people into their lives at the right times. Jason adds that God uses people as vessels to do his work.

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This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back.



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What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!



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Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see.



So.. what have Jason and Danielle learned about love and beating the odds?

"We just don't give up when things get hard.

We just don't give up."

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Happily Ever After?


True Love Stories Never End!

Each time after he prays about their future, the clock is always on 12:17.

Everytime after she asks her Higher Power to guide their relationship, the clock is always on 3:30. Getting married in the middle of a Thursday afternoon , 12/17 at 3:30, was the only time for them.

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Flagler OARS is excited to showcase Bernice as our November hero. This month's hero is a Liberty City native who recently arrived in Flagler to help open Phoenix Community Services & Primary Care.  Her recovery story spans two decades.

Martin Luther King once said, "If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk than crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." As you read her story, you will discover that Bernice, in her recovery, in her life, and in her grace, continues to move forward.


The End

Bernice's story

Twenty years ago, after years of living in my addiction, I I had lost all hope and was sure I would be smoking crack the rest of my life. I had been in and out of seven residential treatment centers. I had deserted my three children, abandoning a ten year old, an eight year old, and a six year old in a homeless shelter. I was certain it was too late to ever have a relationship with them…or with anyone.  

Then, one night, God came to the crack house where I was staying and saved me. 

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Chapter 1

God was so good.

I sought treatment. I paid attention.

Suddenly, I had my first real job with a future and then I was able to have a real home. 

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Chapter 2

I noticed people who were going through hells much worse than my own didn’t use when their worlds were crashing down all around them. 

For the first time, I could deal with the devastation of my son’s incarceration without running away and reaching for a pipe. Finally we were able to rebuild our relationship.

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Chapter 3

My family is mine again.

Remember when I believed I'd never see my children again?

Not only do I have my three children back, I gained a very specila bonus... five grandchildren!

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Chapter 4

My best recovery day

I had become hopeful again. 

God and my 12-step communities loved me until I could finally love mysel again.

In 2013, we celelbrated the first 10 years of my journey with a dedication ceremony.

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The Beginning

I found my passion

Back in 2003, I was offered an entry level position at Camillus House that helped me begin my new life. Fifteen years later, I was a project manager doing what I was born to do: help people who are just like I was: homeless with substance use disorders.


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A crazy, chaotic, hopeful life

My life is full of new chapters every day. 

Some are scary...I just moved from Miami to Palm Coast to work with Phoenix Community Services & Primary Care.

Some are sad. I will never give up on my son who is serving a life sentence.

Some are joyful. I love sharing my story to help others.

At the end of the day, I love it all.

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Flagler OARS is proud to feature Zach as our October hero. Zach was born and raised in East Tennessee and wound up here as a result of running from himself and searching for a dream. Listening to Zach is like reading Hemingway. He speaks in short, powerful sentences that will stay with you long after you close this page. Enjoy his voice.

Zach's Story: The Four Bodies of Recovery

Where It All Began

My recovery began when I realized two things:

1. I wasn’t going to be able to change me.

2. I had to stop telling myself I was going to quit for others…I had to quit for me.

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The Four Bodies of Recovery:

1. Mental

How have you changed mentally?

I have increased my knowledge level of this disease. I continually read the recovery research and case studies.

My decision-making strategies evolved as I learned to take the path of least resistance. I know that sounds odd, but it’s about surrendering mentally and no longer having to keep all my lies straight.

I've discovered joy and have learned I can live in the moment.

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The Four Bodies of Recovery:
2. Emotional

How have you changed emotionally?

I am me…and that is exactly who I want to be.


The Four Bodies of Recovery:

3. Physical

How have you changed physically?

I exercise a lot…at the gym and in my home gym. Of course, Tank has to hang out when I work out at home.

Exercise levels out my brain.

In fact, exercise is a super-important part of my recovery.

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The Four Bodies of Recovery:

4. Spiritual

How have you changed spiritually?

I grew up going to church. I was familiar with the Bible and Christianity, but this is different. 

Here’s how I think about it. You’re standing in a train depot. The God Train comes and goes. You know it’s there. Anyone can get on it. Over and over, you keep trying to get off the platform. Finally one day, you get on the train and it takes you to places you can’t imagine.

My higher power is God and God became real to me.

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The Four Bodies of Recovery:

A Day in the Life

What's Your Day Look Like?

It’s so simple…

Wake up to a baby. I never expected to love being a dad as much as I do.

Go to work at Open Door Recovery Ministry…and that is different every day which I need.

I also have my own power washing and handyman business:

Sun’s Out. Guns Out.

Worship-Praise Practice

Work out for my physical self

Work in for my spiritual self [read and write]

…hug everyone along the way.

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The Four Bodies of Recovery:


Who Was There Along the Way?

Lisa who, try as she might, never stopped loving me.

My Mom who has had to find a new project now that she doesn’t have to worry about me.

My Dad who has always been there.

Pastor Silano who appeared on a video screen one day and has been a mentor ever since.

Easton who, every time he looks at me, makes me want to be who he sees.

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Flagler OARS is proud to feature Kathy  as our first recovery hero. Kathy was born and raised in rural Volusia County. Later, she raised three Florida daughters of her own. Kathy’s first career was that of a court reporter and she now works in data analysis. Kathy lives in Flagler Beach with her dog, Barkley. 
When she’s not volunteering in the local recovery community or volunteering as a member of Flagler OARS founding board, you can find her swimming, jogging, and, of course, bike-riding.

Kathy’s Story: The Cycle of Recovery


I’ve been riding this recovery cycle for a very long time. The first time I hopped on the cycle, I was barely old enough to vote, and had no husband nor children. Over the years, this cycle and I have traveled a lot of roads together. We both have a few battle scars and a few dings, but I think we continue to ride better and better as we age. The last time I got back on  the cycle of recovery, my children were grown, my husbands dead, and I was reminded that you never really forget how to pedal

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The best thing about recovery is knowing what’s going to happen today. I know what I’m going to do. I know where I’m going to work. I know I don’t have any court dates. I know how much money I have and where I’ll spend it. Most importantly, I know I’m going to enjoy chatting with my daughters.  My life wasn’t always this deliciously simple.

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For me, recovery means growth. Recovery is not my life but it is my path to getting a life. Although I attend a variety of mutual aid meetings, my recovery is more about how I live outside of those rooms. It’s about falling off this cycle fast and getting back on faster.  It’s about being present for myself, my family and others. It’s about knowing people can depend on me to give back to my community and it’s about self-care.

In recovery I have learned…

  • Exercise is better than any pill.

  • My personal spirituality completes me.

  • A clean day is a great day…whatever else happens is just icing on the cake.

  • By loving myself well I am able to love others even better.

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