I have dozens of pages worth to really tell you of my life’s success since leaving Kiva, which I will attempt to condense here at this time. As it happens, I married a motivational speaker and together we run a non-profit organization–a mentorship program for at-risk youth. I have several books on the way (my life dream as a writer being fulfilled), as it is my life goal now to “give back” what was given to me.

“Life” was given to me, and there are no words to describe what it is actually like to “have a life.” I now have 6 years totally clean and sober, even cigarette-free after having smoked 2 packs a day for ten years. I have strong ethics against lying, tardiness, procrastination, and other such things. I drive legally now, pay bills and taxes for the first time, return lost things that I find, put other first more often, etc. I am no saint, but just a whole healthier me.

I am living proof that your words took root, they ring in my ears all these 6 years later, they are music to my soul, hope for a future, endurance to press on.


Even the hopeless, helpless, chronic relapsers sometimes recover. 3 years sober on the 14th!


From the first day I walked into Kiva, to last evening as I walked across the stage, it has been a long, often difficult journey. A journey full of changes, old hurts, new beginnings, feelings and lots of hard work but it’s a journey I am very grateful to have traveled. I shared the stage with 12 fellow Kiva women, four of whom I lived with during my stay there. In the audience was my dad & mom and best friend and boyfriend. These are the people who supported me along my journey; who have stood by and believed in me. As the group of us walked to the front of the auditorium, I was overcome by the enormity of our individual accomplishments. Words cannot begin to express my feelings as Jeanne McAlister handed me my certificate…then Maria handed me my very own Kiva Gold necklace. At that moment I was filled with such gratitude! I am thankful for a program that gave me the opportunity, and the tools, to live my life clean and sober. I will wear my Kiva Gold with pride for my accomplishments, with humility because I know where I have been, and as a reminder that as long as I don’t pick up, I never, ever have to go back.


For the last 8 months, I have gradually seen the rebirth of my son ~ that son that I bore ~ that brilliant child. The love, the caring–it is still there. He just had to find it again. During those first few months in your program, we had long conversations about what he had learned about himself and where he wanted to go. Your programs taught him a lot–especially the fact that “being clean really feels good.”

Last evening, my son had dinner with us. Do you know what we were discussing over dinner? 401K programs, investments, and insurance benefits. My son was accepted into the Plumbers’ Apprenticeship Program. He is working regularly, going to school and making a new life for himself.

As he left, I felt compelled to write you this letter to personally thank you and your staff for giving my son a chance. Nine months ago, the thought of sitting down with my son over coffee and discussing how to invest monies into his 401K program just never occurred to me.

He’s come a long way and I thank you and your programs for that. I hope you continue with your fine programs as they truly work. If a person has the desire, with the help of your man programs, their dream of a better future, drug-free life can come true.


After 26 years of using drugs and alcohol, all the beauty and color was black or white. I was no longer the mother that my children deserved. When I looked in the mirror, it wasn’t me that I was looking at. I ran to a payphone and called someone who I knew would get me somewhere safe.

By the next day, I was at McAlister Institute. After a five and a half month journey from detox to Kiva to Luke Lane Sober Living, I felt human again for the first time in years.

Today, I work as Program Manager at East County Detox, where it all began. The thing that I am most proud of is my title as grandma (Jeanne and I have that in common)! I got clean 15 days before my oldest grandchild was born, and I now have six grandchildren. I still get emotional knowing that I can’t change the way I raised my own children, but I can sure as heck make up for it by being the best grandmother I can today.

Thank you, Jeanne McAlister. Without you and the programs you have, I would not be the person that I am today. It began at McAlister Institute, and here I will remain as long as they allow me to. I owe you my life.


It hit. This place isn’t punishment. It’s a last chance at life. It brings you in with no judgment and helps you. This program has opened parts that I truly wasn’t aware of like how to deal with my anger and why I always felt the need to run and hide when things got bad. It has given me resources to use and clean people with good intentions for the beginning of a support group.