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Faces & Voices seeks more muscle

March 24, 2014
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Changes are affecting the national organization most responsible for mobilizing the addiction recovery community over the past decade, and the organization is crafting a new strategic plan that may shift how it communicates with constituents and how it moves to support signature initiatives.

In an interview with Addiction Professional, Faces & Voices of Recovery acting director Steve Gumbley said the sudden departure of longtime executive director Pat Taylor at the end of February offers an opportunity for the organization “maybe to look at things a little differently.”

One longstanding challenge for the organization has involved translating its success in program initiatives, including the growth of the Association of Recovery Community Organizations (ARCO) and the emergence of the Council on Accreditation of Peer Recovery Support Services (CAPRSS), into broad-based funding support for the recovery movement. Yet Gumbley says Faces and Voices itself is not in imminent financial danger, and adds that the organization's board of directors has no unresolved issues with its former executive director.

“We are in good shape,” Gumbley says, adding, “The board is definitely grateful to Pat for her many years of service. She certainly did a tremendous job over the past 11 years.”

Gumbley, who directs the New England Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) housed at Brown University, says Faces & Voices certainly does not stand alone among addiction and recovery organizations in facing barriers to raising money. “I have talked with all sorts of organizations about the difficulty of raising funds, and trying to build the concept of recovery philanthropy and identifying foundations that want to address this issue,” he says. An infrastructure of dedicated funders for recovery-focused activities does not exist, as most available dollars go to direct treatment services, he says.

Numerous high-profile leaders nationally have offered their support to the organization since word of Taylor's departure spread across the field. Asked how others can get involved at this time, Gumbley says matter-of-factly, “One, send us a check. Two, become part of your local recovery community organization.”

He believes treatment professionals can do much more to fuel the recovery community at the local level, both through their own direct involvement in recovery activities and in encouraging their patients to participate. “I think that providers miss an opportunity to talk to their patients about being active in the community, to talk to them about what anonymity means and what it means to be open,” he says.

ARCO and CAPRSS stand among Faces & Voices' most significant accomplishments in advancing the recovery movement. Around 100 entities around the country are now members of ARCO, which seeks to link state and local recovery community organizations with allies and which offers training and technical assistance. The newly established CAPRSS is boosting peer recovery support services by accrediting the organizations that employ peers as recovery support specialists. The five organizations that pilot-tested the CAPRSS accreditation survey recently became the first CAPRSS-accredited organizations; these groups are not directly affiliated with a treatment center, and the accreditation effort is driven in part by a desire to see peer support services maintain their peer-to-peer character and not get co-opted by other interests in the industry.

Gumbley says the Faces & Voices board has launched a new strategic planning process for the national organization, as Taylor's departure coincides with the near-expiration of the organization's current three-year plan. He expects the process to be completed at the time of the board's June retreat, held in conjunction with the annual America Honors Recovery event.

In the meantime, his message to anyone who has been impressed with what Faces & Voices has been able to accomplish over the years is a simple one: Get involved.