In high school, homecoming felt like a big deal, but it didn’t really make sense. At least in my hometown, no one ever really came home for it. It was something we—the people still living there—celebrated. At The Next Door, people came home this past weekend for our second annual TND Homecoming!

Our parking lot was filled with clients, both current and former, staff, and families all celebrating one thing: recovery. At The Next Door, women come to us at one of the darkest moments of their lives. They want to give up. They want to change but they don’t know how. We walk with them as they fight legal charges, battle the Department of Child Services for custody of their children, and as they learn to forgive and love themselves.

Homecoming is an opportunity to see these women thriving. Some women share cotton candy with their reunited families. Others eat shaved ice with the family of their choice—the community they have built to support them in their recovery. Clients throw balls to drop their favorite staff members in a dunk tank. Old friends catch up and remember where they have been, and more importantly, where they are going. The day is also special for our current clients, who get a glimpse of what life can look like if they dedicate themselves to their recovery. Sometimes, in the beginning of the journey, long-term sobriety seems impossible, and the consequences of substance abuse feel insurmountable. Homecoming is proof that that’s not true. It might not be easy, but recovery is achievable.

One of the best parts of the day is our Roll Call of clean time. Women—current clients, alumnae, and staff—write a number that represents their recovery on their hand. A 4 for four years clean. A 15 for 15 days. Some simply write the date they decided to get sober. A staff member starts a count down, and women raise their hand in the air to show their sober time. Sobriety dates spanned from 15 years to a few days and everything in between, and for every hand that went up, the response was the same: an echo of celebratory shouts throughout the parking lot. Sobriety dates spanned from 15 years to a few days and everything in between.

Working in the field of addiction recovery can be hard. We don’t always see the end of the story. At homecoming, we get to see that our work matters. The Bible promises us that God will restore the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25). At homecoming, we witness this restoration in the lives of our alumnae. It’s a privilege to be a small part of God’s work in their lives.

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