Why We Do It
“Recovery is a change of ideas, a change of perspective. You don’t get that overnight.” We look at drug addiction as a dis-ease, not a criminal activity. Treatment programs can remove drugs from the body, but they can’t supply people with life skills they may never have mastered.” ~ Vaile Leonard
Reverend Vaile Leonard, Founder and CEO of the Light of Truth Center, had a clear vision about what a successful recovery program should be. She is very open about her path and what brought her to this work. Now in recovery herself for over 22 years, Vaile says she had a real time of it. “Trying to get clean was very difficult and staying clean even more so.” (Listen to Vaile’s recovery story.)
The problems with the programs that were available left her with a deep desire to do something different. Vaile wanted to provide a place that felt like home, where the women could feel the love and not feel like they were in a facility. In Vailes’ words, “Often the more conventional programs treat the case and not the person. Each woman who lives here can be on her own path and do what is best for her situation.” When a favorite uncle died in 1999 and left her his house, Leonard began to implement her innovative vision of a home filled with love and encouragement where women could take the time they needed to heal “from the inside out.”
With aid from Lucent organizations like WILL (Women in Leadership at Lucent) and ABLE (Alliance of Black Lucent Technologies Employees), as well as individual donors, Vaile filled her uncle’s house with beds, curtains, kitchen equipment, and books. But furnishings were only part of making a home. From the start, Vaile and volunteer staff members at the Light of Truth Center focused on creating an environment that would make residents feel safe, respected, and loved — feelings most of them had not experienced for many years.
To achieve the right environment, she limited the number of residents to six, so that the atmosphere would be intimate and family-like. She insisted on rules that would keep the house a pleasant, safe place for everyone. She didn’t put a cap on how long women could stay, though most have felt that six to nine months was enough. And she found ways to teach them skills that many people take for granted. Many women have to learn or re-learn certain skills, including decision-making, having conversations or identifying emotions. Leonard and certified volunteer counselors work with the women to help them learn what they need to know. We tell them ‘If you want a new life, you can have it.’ We encourage them and try to give them the skills they need to make it happen. We’re geared to helping them be successful, she said. According to Vaile, her uncle was a wonderful man and a pillar of the community. This is a monument to him in some ways.