by Shari Allwood, SMART Recovery Executive Director

Much like how long-time volunteers feel when they graduate and move on from SMART, my need to leave the employment of SMART elicits immense sadness and full acceptance as I realize the need to tackle recent challenges in my life.

I have lived and breathed SMART for the past 23 years of my life — and happily so! It’s been amazing to have been a part of this vibrant and growing organization over the past two decades. The benefit of witnessing daily changed lives is a perk that few jobs offer, and one that I will never forget.

At the same time, I have had two major changes to my life in the past eight months. After my Dad passed away a year ago, my Mom, who will soon be 85, moved in with my husband and me in March. She’s suffering from dementia and requiring more of my time as her health seems to be deteriorating. Also, in August, I was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer.

These events brought me to the realization that I need to begin to work on Point 4 of SMART’s incredible 4-Point Program – lifestyle balance – for the sake of my Mom’s and my own health.

If I were to begin to name the people at SMART who have touched my life over the past 23 years, this article in the blog would expand to hundreds of pages. SMART enjoys an incredible cadre of volunteers in our face-to-face and online venues, not to mention my amazing colleagues in Australia, the UK, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, China, Canada, etc. It’s been such an honor to work for and alongside so many gifted individuals

In 2017, we have accomplished so very much:

  •  A new Strategic Plan to help guide SMART in the five-years ahead.
  •  A new website.
  •  A new and improved tiered training structure.
  •  Our first financial audit.
  •  Achievement of GuideStar Platinum status, which will help us raise more funds.
  •  An IT audit resulting in new/improved IT support and processes.
  •  Creation of a Governance Committee to ensure best practices.
  •  Undertaking the formation of the SMART Recovery International organization.
  •  2,500 meetings worldwide – a milestone that seemed unfathomable as recently as 10 years ago.
  •  More research and more important organizations recognizing SMART.

And the list goes on and on. I’m so proud to have been a part of these recent activities, and I look forward to watching (from afar) the accomplishments and growth that will continue.

One last thing … I can’t fail to note my sincere thanks to one special individual — Joe Gerstein. Joe’s guidance over the past 23 years has been immense to me personally and to the organization. His ongoing generous gifts of his time and funds have enabled SMART to achieve the gains and to attain the status we enjoy today.

Thank you SMART for the honor and privilege of serving you for 23 years!

SMART Recovery

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