Category Archives: alumni news

‘Softening Ground’ from Fr. Jim Swarthout

Fr. Jim Swarthout

For those of us who celebrate recovery with families this Easter in the northern hemisphere, we are blessed to have abundant symbols of recovery and rebirth all around us. For me, though, there is one sign in nature that is the most meaningful indicator of new life this time of year, one that is probably easy to overlook…the ground begins to soften.

First, the snow melts, and then gradually the ground that has been frozen and covered all winter begins to thaw and soften. One thing I love about the ground starting to soften is that I am able to move my walks off the concrete sidewalks and onto the soft earth, which provides welcome cushioning to my aging joints. Softening ground is wet ground this time of year, and I love the squishing sound that my shoes make with every step I take. The softer ground also means that soccer and baseball games will soon be played again, and that those with green thumbs will soon be digging in their gardens. The softer earth gives rise to so many beautiful stirrings of new life.
The image of the ground beginning to soften is a vivid metaphor of what it feels like when God is doing new things in our lives.

I know this feeling in my life and others whom I work/minster with here at Rosecrance. People usually come to see us because life has become hard for them, literally. They come in with hearts, minds, souls and even bodies that have become hardened and rigid. They come alone, or they come with their loved one, or they bring their whole family because everyone has become hardened to each other. This hardness is usually the result of frozen sadness or hurt, or unresolved conflict or grief and the hardness has built up over a long period of time.

Why have they come? Because deep down, they don’t want to be hard-hearted, hard-minded, or hard-spirited, towards themselves or towards the people they love most. Deep down, a small, still voice longs for something different. And because they are willing to listen to this longing, slowly, imperceptibly at first, a miracle begins to happen. The ground begins to soften. The softening heart/mind/soul, just like the softening earth, soon gives rise to all kinds of miraculous new life. People forgive each other, and they forgive themselves. People who haven’t done so for a long time touch and hug again. There is laughter where once there was criticism and hurt. There is joy where there once was shame and guilt. Grief gradually loosens its grip. There is freedom where there once was bondage. There is life where there once was death. Recovery in terms of Resurrection happens. There is always a risk in the process of softening and choosing recovery/ resurrection, but it is always worth it.

“Life’s Waiting” is our mutual call here at Rosecrance. May together our hearts and souls be softened by the presence of the One who continues to bring recovery and life and new found joy out of death.

Fr. Jim Swarthout
Director of Clergy & Alumni Services

Rosecrance hires new Alumni Coordinator

Paul Gilmet recently joined the Rosecrance team as its Alumni Coordinator. Paul will work closely with Fr. Jim Swarthout in developing a new and robust menu of alumni services.

Paul graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 1999 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He joins the team with a strong background in developing alumni programs within the treatment services setting.

He indicates there are so many ways that Rosecrance can serve clients once they leave treatment, whether through retreats, monthly gatherings, alumni chapters, networking events, recovery enhancement (including wellness, fitness, and meditation), social media engagement, or other social gatherings.

Though Paul is new to the Rosecrance team, he is already making steps towards change, and very literally too. SoulCycle Northshore recently held a charity ride for Rosecrance to support Red Ribbon Week and Paul participated in the event.

“I’ve seen so many people recover from addiction, stay well, and live purposeful and productive lives. In working with our alumni, I get to be reminded of that on a daily basis,” says Gilmet.

He adds, “People who have come out of the grips of addiction have a unique bond. Getting people connected, involved in events and activities together, and keeping them engaged in their Rosecrance recovery is just another way we can help our clients achieve lifelong recovery.”

While he may be spotted at any Rosecrance facility, he maintains an office at the Harrison Campus.

Fr. Jim's "Rosecrance Ripple Effect of Recovery"

Fr. Jim Swarthout, Director of Clergy & Alumni Relations

What’s the ripple effect? It’s the effect we have on family & friends because of what we do or say, and how “Life’s Waiting” each moment of our lives!

“Life’s Waiting” is our tag line. It invites us and our clients to believe in a new vision of the future. But, if you were asked to look back over your life and list some of your biggest regrets, what would come to mind? Continue reading “Fr. Jim’s “Rosecrance Ripple Effect of Recovery”” »

Rosecrance Alumni Reflection: Jam Alker

Rosecrance Alumni Jam Alker sings to clients January 18 at the Harrison Campus in Rockford. He shared his story about his experience during treatment and his time in recovery.

by Jam Alker

Addiction will sever connections to everything the addict loves, and that was certainly true in my case. I lost my connection to music during my years out there, so I don’t know what made me decide to bring my guitar with me when I finally went into treatment.

I didn’t know, but I think my counselor at Rosecrance, Nannatte Heshelman, had an inkling of what that guitar might do for me. Going into treatment, I was overwhelmed with shame. I knew Nannatte recognized this shame and that she understood the horrors of the disease of addiction. For the first time, I did not feel judged. Continue reading “Rosecrance Alumni Reflection: Jam Alker” »

SoulCycle Northshore supports recovery

SoulCycle Northshore recently held a charity ride for Rosecrance as part of Red Ribbon Week. Rosecrance’s Alumni Coordinator Paul Gilmet and Director of Outreach Mary Egan joined in on the class, as the instructor Joshua brought a powerful message of hope and inspiration to the riders. Thanks to SoulCycle’s support of those in recovery!

Rosecrance recovery stories shared at alumni picnic

Over fifty Rosecrance alumni, family members and staff gathered at Southwest Community Park in Rockford on August 10 for an alumni picnic. Current and former clients shared stories of recovery while attendees enjoyed a meal together.

Rosecrance Recovery Home Specialist Denise Johnson spoke about the importance of alumni events: “This is our first annual alumni picnic. I know how important it is those in recovery to have a network and stay connected. With help and support from staff and people from the meetings, you can stay clean.”

Alumni shared inspirational stories of their journeys from addiction to sobriety. Later in the afternoon activities included yard games with recovery-related prizes. Rosecrance plans to host more alumni events as their program continues to grow.