July 10, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

The journey is over. We are pulling into After.

Hope for New Hampshire Recovery is reopening weekdays from 3-7 pm beginning next Monday. Read on for all the details, but before you do, let me say congratulations to all of you. You made it across rough seas with few folks falling overboard or being completely laid up with nausea. I’ll confess I had times I feared we’d never arrive at this port, thought After was mythical, assumed when Hope reopened it would require hazmat suits and Geiger counters. Instead, in three more days we’ll be able to gather together and begin the task of building a better After than the Before we left behind.

Of course, there will be changes. After all, a case can be made that change is the lord of this universe. Any claim of permanence is as silly as Shelley’s trunkless statue of Ozymandias proclaiming his power as the lone and level sands stretch far away. So what will some of those changes look like?

  1. We’ll be using the back door (down by the meditation room) as the entrance, with the front door used as an exit.
  2. We’ve got three new employees (but not new to Hope) who’ll screen folks when you walk in. They’ll ask you to put on a mask and sanitize your hands, (masks will be provided for those that need them) ask you five questions about your health, and take your temperature touchlessly. If you’ve been out much during the reopening, you’ve probably been through these practices already.
  3. We’ll maintain social distancing—six (6) feet away from each other.

Since the day we closed, the Hope staff has focused on how to safely reopen and we think we’ve got a good and livable plan, but it’s going to take patience (which is not considered a PPE, but should be). If you have an extra bucket of tolerance and compassion, they would be welcome too.

The thing is . . . NONE of us has ever done this before—spent time together in a recovery center in the middle of a pandemic. ALL of us will make mistakes. You will screw up. I will screw up. We will screw up. I’ve preached to the staff until they’re sick of me (actually, that point may have been reached long before), we are going to be kind when folks get too close or slide their masks off and forget to put them on. After a while, this will all become second nature. Until then, we’ll all have to have extra patience and remember we want a fistful of grace ourselves.

There’s not time or space to post the whole reopening plan here, and even if there were, that’s not exactly what these letters have been about. Yes, they’ve shared information, but writing them has been a chance to remind all of you and myself that we are good, decent people in recovery, wanting to support each other and ask for support.

I’m super excited to see you Monday or Tuesday or whatever day you come in. Recovery is possible. Hope is not a building but a community. You are worthy—and so is everyone you’ll see today. I can’t wait to get back!

You matter. I matter. We matter.

Keith