April 29, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

We’re still sailing the Sea of During. The pandemic continues, and we don’t know when we will arrive in the Land of After. I wish I could tell you when Hope will reopen. I can’t. All I can tell you is we will reopen when it’s safe to reopen. I understand how frustrating this is, but we will get through this and get back to the business of helping folks discover the power of recovery.

I was in a meeting this morning, where someone was talking about the pandemic bringing about fear and chaos. I don’t want to question that person’s feeling, but I strongly encourage all of us to transform fear and chaos into excitement and change. We don’t know what’s coming next, but that gives us the chance to prepare for and explore a lot of possibilities.

Chaos doesn’t have to accompany change; that decision is up to us. Change is the universe’s only constant and we can influence if not control change. Chaos brings confusion and disorder, usually by trying to stop or deny change. I choose to accept and learn to surf with change, and so can you.

When Hope prepares to reopen, when we draw within sight of After, that won’t mean we all pile up by the exits and prepare to rush down the gangplank into the future. The leadership at Hope knows we don’t know everything about anything. We know we don’t know anything about some things. We know that some of what we think we know may be flat wrong.

We do, however, know some things with rock-solid certainty.

  1. Member and staff safety will come first. This will include mandatory use of PPE for the foreseeable future. We are working to raise funds and find sources for masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and disinfectants. I know how tedious this stuff can be, and wish things could somehow be loosened, but all of us need to think about folks with compromised immune systems who come to Hope. The lucky ones know they’re at risk, but many folks don’t know they’ve got HIV, Hep-C, diabetes or any number of other underlying conditions.
  2. Meetings will combine in-person and virtual participation. Hope has purchased and is installing state-of-the-art technology (large-screen televisions in each meeting room, robotic video cameras to automatically focus on whoever is speaking in a meeting, upgraded audio, etc.) to try to reproduce the in-person experience. I know. I Know. I KNOW this is impossible, but we’re doing our best. We will provide training and support when we reopen and will continue it into the future. It’s not going to be the same as it used to was—nor can it ever be again—but we’re going to do our best.
  3. We will maintain social distancing (even though we know it’s going to be weird and awkward at first). Six feet will be six feet will be six feet until we get different advice from local health authorities.
  4. We will support all pathways to recovery. Speaking very personally, I’m incredibly proud of the way Hope has brought together folks from all the different recovery pathways, with a sense of celebrating differences and learning from other ways of doing recovery. Whether you follow a 12-Step model, SMART Recovery, Three Principles, Recovery Dharma, some hybrid of these or your own damn model, we will continue to support you in finding recovery.
  5. We will be creative, energetic and, we hope, fun. Art will be back, but it may be different. Music will be back and it’s going to be better than ever. (Can’t go into detail yet, but big and very cool things are on the way!) Haircuts will be back, but they may be different. (And, by the way, Susie does a great job as a volunteer. If you possibly can, slip her a five or a ten.) Meetings of all kinds will be back, and they will be different.

In short, everything will be different, and we can make every effort now to help make the Land of After a kinder, gentler, more loving world, a land filled with changes, but lacking chaos.

After all,

You matter. I matter. We matter.

Keith