Patrick Garcia is seen in front of a full-scale mural he painted on the Veterans of Foreign Wars building on 7th Street in Rockford. Garcia calls the mural his “comeback art.”
Patrick Garcia issues orders into a walkie talkie. A worker he supervises at the Millennium Center in Rockford applied the wrong kind of spackle to repair a hole in the wall, and Garcia doesn’t have time to take care of the situation before lunch. It’s a relatively small problem for Garcia, 58, but one he takes pride in remedying. He’s been building manager at the facility since July 2011. He considers it an amazing opportunity. And it really is, especially when you consider that just a few years ago, Garcia was homeless.
A traditional upbringing
Garcia spent the better part of his life behind bars. He endured two failed marriages. He missed out on relationships with two children. He lived on the streets. He blames all of it on drug and alcohol abuse.
But for more than five years – since 2006 – he’s been putting his life back together.
Patrick Eugene Garcia was born in 1954, in Plant City, Fla., the eldest of four children. He grew up in a traditional Catholic home – no swearing, no drinking and plenty of hard work.
Garcia describes his childhood as “exactly what you’d expect from that era.” His father was strict, but not harsh, and his mother was a nurturing homemaker. He tapped into his artistic side by the time he was 6, sneaking into his father’s study to watch him paint and draw. The discovery would spark a lifelong interest in the arts.
Garcia finds no fault in his upbringing, and doesn’t connect any dots that led to the turmoil he would encounter later in life. If you’re looking for where things began to go wrong, you could point to July of 1971, when he enlisted in the United States Army at the age of 17.
Because of his budding artistic skills, the Army trained Garcia as a medical illustrator. He remained stateside during the war in Vietnam, but developed survivor’s guilt after seeing his peers return to the U.S. with debilitating injuries. He was 18 when he began abusing substances.
“I was drinking a lot,” Garcia said. “Beer was a dollar a pitcher. It was just what you did. It’s what we all did.
“I started doing other things, too: Pot. LSD. Mescaline. Speed.”
It was the beginning of more than three decades of substance abuse. After the Army, Garcia’s abuse devolved from experimentation to addiction. It began with habitual glue sniffing, but his addiction would lead to other drugs, as well.
In trying to pay for his habit, Garcia was arrested several times for burglary and other financially motivated crimes. The abuse also cost him two marriages and relationships with his children.
“Crack cocaine was my drug,” Garcia said. “Most of my adult life – at least three quarters of it – I’ve been locked up. All of it was related to drugs or alcohol.
“None of my family wanted me around. My father passed away in ’93. I was in prison at the time.”
Road to recovery
In 2006, during his fifth stint behind bars, Garcia found himself eligible to leave prison on parole – provided he could find a residence. His case worker suggested the Rockford Rescue Mission, which would accept parolees and provide a permanent address. Without the program, Garcia would have remained behind bars until his sentence ended in January 2012.
The Mission put Garcia in a one-year recovery program and gave him an opportunity to practice his painting, drawing and other artwork – something he saw as the key to his recovery. It wasn’t long before he was commissioned to paint a full-scale mural on the Veterans of Foreign Wars building on 7th Street in Rockford.
“I found out later that my dad was very proud of my artwork, which meant a lot to me,” said Garcia. “That mural was kind of my comeback art.”
Garcia’s talent was noticed, and he was recommended to Brad Gilbaugh after completing the Mission’s program. Gilbaugh manages Rosecrance’s Homeless Veterans Program, which provides transitional housing to veterans while they search for full-time housing and employment. Garcia spent about a year and a half in Rosecrance supportive housing.
“The guy has had some tough breaks in life – all related to drugs and alcohol – but when I first met him, you could tell he had the potential to succeed,” Gilbaugh said.
Gilbaugh put Garcia in contact with Nancy Vaccaro, who gave Garcia a job at the Millennium Center drawing portraits on Friday nights. Garcia parlayed the opportunity into his current full-time job.
“He made his mind up he was going to turn his life around, and he did it,” Gilbaugh said.
Today, Patrick Garcia lives a life free of substance abuse. He’s reconciled with his
family – he plans to visit his mom, whom he hasn’t seen since 2003, in Denver later this year. He works during the week at the Millennium Center and practices his art during his off time. Local newspapers occasionally feature his artwork.
Garcia recently earned a promotion, maintaining all properties affiliated with the owners of the Millennium Center. Because of his position, he was able to offer a job to another person actively involved in Rosecrance’s Homeless Veterans Program.
“We’re very proud of Patrick,” said Susan Black, his case worker during his time in the Homeless Veterans Program, “and I know he’s very proud of himself.”
Garcia shares the credit.
“I often thank God, and the people who work in the facilities, for what they’ve done for me,” Garcia said. “I believe that being in the Homeless Veterans Program taught me to believe in myself again. I’ve had a chance to start over.”
About Rosecrance’s Homeless Veterans Program
The Homeless Veterans Program is a maximum two-year program requiring complete abstinence from substance abuse. Attendance at Veterans Affairs meetings is mandatory, and participation in Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12-Step programs is encouraged.
Program participants live in a Rosecrance-run apartment for the duration of their stay. All money paid into rent is redirected into a savings account, which is then given to the veteran at the end of program to use for living expenses.
The goal of the program is to provide transitional housing while the veteran seeks full-time employment and housing.
Rosecrance Chaplain William Lenters receives national journalism award
The Rev. Dr. William “Bill” Lenters honored at NAATP event in Phoenix
The Rev. Dr. William Lenters works at his desk at Rosecrance Harrison Campus. Lenters received the 2012 National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) Michael Q. Ford Journalism Award.
ROCKFORD – The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) awarded the Michael Q. Ford Journalism Award to Rosecrance Chaplain William “Bill” Lenters at the organization’s annual conference, held May 19-22 in Phoenix, AZ.
The award recognizes Lenters’ long-running series of recovery-focused columns, which are published under the title “Bread for the Journey.” The award is named for NAATP’s first executive, Michael Q. Ford, who died in 1999.
Lenters, who came to Rosecrance as chaplain in 1998, counsels adolescents and adults in treatment for substance abuse at the Rockford campuses. In his straightforward, colorful and often humorous columns, he addresses everyday life struggles of people who may or may not be in recovery.
“It surprises me to get recognized for writing down what I think is fairly obvious,” Lenters said. “It makes me happy that I might have something meaningful to say to folks who struggle with addiction and other life issues.”
Introducing Lenters at the NAATP conference, Rosecrance President/CEO Philip W. Eaton said the chaplain has helped thousands of patients find the strength and wisdom within themselves to face obstacles in their lives.
“I would say there’s not much about the human condition that surprises Bill,” Eaton said. “Yet, he accepts every person, every story, as unique and meets patients where they are.
“He helps patients dig through layers of loss, guilt, trauma and self-loathing to find and fan a spark of spirituality that can help them sustain recovery for the long run.”
Lenters, an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, previously served as campus minister at Purdue University, parish pastor at churches in Chicago and Cleveland, and chaplain at a treatment center in Phoenix, AZ.
He holds Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees. Lenters is a published author in the addictions field, having written The Freedom We Crave – Addiction, The Human Experience. His “Bread for the Journey” column is distributed to pastors and churches of many denominations in Illinois and Wisconsin, to Rosecrance staff and to many other avid readers. To subscribe, email Diana Youngberg here.
Director of Communications
Rosecrance Health Network
1021 N. Mulford Road
Rockford, IL 61107
815.387.5605 (office); 815.262.4685 (cell)
Email: Email Judy Emerson here
Rosecrance is a private not-for-profit organization offering behavioral health services for more than 14,000 children, adolescents, adults and families each year. Rosecrance provides addiction treatment through inpatient and outpatient programs in Rockford, IL, and services at six satellite offices in Chicagoland. In addition, Rosecrance offers community mental health services in Rockford and Belvidere. The organization was founded in 1916.
Suburban Chicago students get look at spiral of drug abuse
In response to a rise of heroin use in the Chicago suburbs, Rosecrance recently participated in a student seminar at Hinsdale South High School in Darien to help students understand the consequences of drug abuse.
The event was featured in an article published by Sandy Illian Bosch in the Chicago Sun-Times publication The Doings Weekly.
Hinsdale South High School students viewed a video detailing the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. With summer approaching, the school is presenting anti-drug forums during all physical education classes, encouraging kids to make good, healthy decisions over summer.
From the article:
Hinsdale South High School’s students had heard the anti-drug message before. But this time was different, sophomore Amelia Manley said.
“It was better than just being told not to do it,” Manley said after taking part in a forum designed to help kids make good choices as they leave for summer break.
The program, attended by all South students during gym classes on Thursday, featured a 17-minute video in which student leaders interviewed two recovering addicts.
To sophomore Tori Benes, that made all the difference. She said hearing from people who made the wrong choices will help her and her peers make the right ones.
In the news: Thank you from Rosecrance Chairman John Griffin
John Griffin, Chairman of the Rosecrance Board of Directors, thanked the community for their generous support in a letter to editor in the May 12, 2012, edition of the Rockford Register Star.
On behalf of The Rosecrance Foundation board of directors, I wish to express appreciation to everyone who helped make our annual benefit a huge success. Thanks to many generous benefactors, we raised almost $500,000 to serve clients with substance use and mental health disorders. Specifically, the 830 people who attended our benefit on April 16 supported The Kinley Charity Care Fund, which has provided more than $6 million in care since 1984 to families in need of financial assistance for treatment.
Your generous support translates into treatment, and treatment equals lives changed and saved. It is not easy for individuals or families in need of mental health or substance abuse services to reach out for help. The journey toward recovery is made so much smoother when caring people extend such extraordinary support and understanding.
The board of directors also wishes to congratulate one of our own, Jerry Paris, who received the Castle Award at this year’s banquet. The award honors an individual or family for extraordinary commitment and stellar service to the Rosecrance mission of help, hope and recovery. Jerry exemplifies these ideals.
Thanks again to this community for believing in and supporting the Rosecrance mission.
In the news: Youth recovery court starts in Winnebago County
Judge Janet Holmgren, presiding judge of the Juvenile and Specialty Courts Division of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court, smiles while distributing state certificates for Rosecrance’s crisis intervention training (C.I.T.). in February. Judge Holmgren presides over a special youth recovery court for juvenile offenders with mental heath or substance abuse issues.
WREX-13 published an article over the weekend about a Rosecrance-affiliated recovery court for juvenile offenders with mental health or substance abuse issues.
The court system is designed to provide an alternative to jail and is presided by Judge Janet Holmgren, presiding judge of the Juvenile and Specialty Courts Division of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court.
From the WREX-13 article:
Experts know when some people commit crimes, the behavior can be out of those people’s control. Maybe substance abuse or mental illness are a problem.
It’s called Youth Recovery Court, a partnership with Rockford’s Rosecrance. Five young adults are eligible for the program now. There’s room for nearly 40. The idea began to take shape in 2011 when the county won a 250 thousand dollar federal grant. Supporters hope this meets a need for troubled kids in the community.
Youth have to have mental or substance abuse problems and non violent offenses to get into the program. Rosecrance staff will test potential participants to see if they’re good candidates for treatment.
Rosecrance experts answer questions on local news forum
(From left) Rosecrance's Jason Gorham, Charity Shaw-Moyado, Craig Stallings and Joan Lodge are prepared to answer questions about substance abuse and mental illness April 30, 2012, during a live forum on WTVO-17.
Four Rosecrance managers fielded almost three dozen on-the-air telephone calls from area residents over a 90-minute period April 30, 2012, on WTVO-17.
Inquiries were split about equally between substance abuse and mental health issues. In most cases, the Rosecrance managers were able to give the callers solid information about finding the right kind of help for themselves or a loved one.
In the news: Rosecrance Flower Day 2012
There were several articles in the news this week about Rosecrance Flower Day 2012.
WREX-13 posted a piece about the event here. Samantha Jeffrey’s writes:
Shoppers raised funds for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs and services just by buying flowers on Thursday.
Both Gensler Gardens locations in New Milford and Loves Park celebrated the beginning of the planting season with Rosecrance Flower Day. Rosecrance volunteers were on sight to help shoppers find items and help them carry their purchases to their vehicles.
MyStateline.com features a video interview with Rosecrance’s Judy Emerson discussing the generosity of Gensler Gardens and the Gensler family. See the interview here.
Video: Rosecrance's Jerry Paris accepts the 2012 Castle Award
The 2012 Castle Award was presented to a former Board chairman with nearly 20 years experience at Rosecrance.
Jerry Paris, who joined the Rosecrance Board of Directors in 1993 and was chairman in 2002, is the recipient of the award, which was announced at the 2012 Rosecrance Foundation Benefit on April 14. Presenting the award were Rosecrance President/CEO Philip W. Eaton and Jean Castle, wife of the late Millard Castle and daughter-in-law of the late Clarence Castle, longtime Rosecrance board members for whom the award is named.
Paris was chairman when the decision to build an adolescent treatment center was made. His leadership during that process was invaluable and proof of his commitment to Rosecrance is evident in the lives that are changed and saved every day on that campus.
May edition of the Rosecrance enewsletter published
The May edition of the Rosecrance electronic newsletter is now available. This month, we’re highlighting Michael Cavanaugh’s return to the Rosecrance Benefit. The newsletter also includes information on Rosecrance Flower Day, giving opportunities, upcoming trainings, news and more!
ROCKFORD – The 2012 Rosecrance Foundation Benefit raised a record $480,000 to provide services to clients who need financial assistance for treatment of substance use and mental health disorders. The annual event also drew a record attendance of 830.
Entertainer Michael Cavanaugh and his band headlined the event on Monday, April 16, at Giovanni’s. The Benefit also featured presentation of the Castle Award to Jerry Paris, a Rockford businessman who has provided distinguished service on Rosecrance boards for almost two decades. A new video titled “Hope in Recovery,” which features Rosecrance alumni, was premiered at the event.
The annual event supports The Kinley Charity Care Fund, named for the late Verna Kinley, a former Rosecrance board member who was dedicated to the principle that no youth in need of treatment should be turned away because of a family’s inability to pay for services. Since 1984, The Kinley Fund has provided more than $6 million in care to patients.
John Griffin, chair of the Rosecrance Foundation Board of Directors, expressed gratitude for the ongoing support of corporations and individuals who make the Benefit successful. It is the organization’s main fundraising vehicle for charity care, which each year assists almost 300 families.
“We are so very grateful to everyone who supports the Benefit because they believe, as we do, in the power of every human spirit to heal,” Griffin said. “There is hope in treatment, and our event is all about helping people get the services they need, even if their financial resources are limited.
“Through their generosity, Rosecrance donors change and save the lives of people they will never meet.”
President/CEO Philip W. Eaton presented the Castle Award to Rosecrance Health Network Board Member Jerry Paris, who has helped to lead the organization in various roles for almost 20 years. Paris is a past board chair and currently leads the Foundation’s Endowment Committee.
“He has been there for us as we’ve built buildings, expanded programs and struggled to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people,” Eaton said of Paris. “He asks hard questions at the right time so that we can make the best decisions to move our mission forward and offer the best quality care.”
Paris owns several area Midas Auto Repair Centers. He founded the Rosecrance/Midas Golf Shootout in 1992 and oversaw it for a decade, during which time the event earned almost a quarter of a million dollars to support programs and services.
In addition to his work with Rosecrance, Paris has been involved in leadership at several other community agencies. He received the Crusader Community Health Spirit of Caring Award in 2007 for his deep community involvement.
The event traditionally highlights Rosecrance alumni who have been successful in recovery. A video titled “Hope in Recovery” premiered at the Benefit featuring a dozen alums speaking about their lives since treatment to help them overcome addiction.
Director of Communications
Rosecrance Health Network
1021 N. Mulford Road
Rockford, IL 61107
815.387.5605 (office); 815.262.4685 (cell)
Email: Click here to email Judy
Rosecrance is a private not-for-profit organization offering behavioral health services for more than 14,000 children, adolescents, adults and families each year. Rosecrance provides addiction treatment through inpatient and outpatient programs in Rockford, IL, and services at six offices in Chicagoland. Rosecrance offers community mental health services in Rockford and Belvidere. The organization was founded in 1916.