Transformed People, Transform People!

Herren Project celebrates Recovery Month by recognizing all of the individuals who make up our community. Our alumni, recovery coaches, and the Herren Project treatment team who work to create those connections and peer networks that support a successful recovery journey. Many Herren Project alumni now work in the recovery field to help others struggling with the disease of addiction and give back the gift that was given to them. Read some of the heartfelt messages from our alumni and how Herren Project has been transformational in changing their lives!

First and foremost, I’d like to express my sincere and deepest gratitude to everyone at the Herren Project for their ongoing support and commitment to me!!! I am a 60-year-old woman who has battled this disease of addiction for over 40 years!! My journey started with Herren Project about two years ago while serving a 3-5 year prison sentence at MCI Framingham. I wrote to Lana Atamian, expressing my needs and desire to help with funding for a sober home if I was granted parole. I was denied parole and was set back a year. Once granted parole (I waited a year to see them), Lana and the Herren Project were still willing to help me!! Overwhelmed with tremendous gratitude, I arrived at my new Sober home, and the Herren Project came through for me. Not only did they ensure I had a safe and healthy place to live, but they also funded my rent. As a bonus, I received another amazing gift…that came in the form of an AMAZING and loving woman…my Recovery Coach Lacey B.!! Having Lacey in my life for the first six months after being released from prison is and always will be one of my treasured gifts of recovery. She has given me hope, emotional support, and faith to maneuver the difficulties of freedom, daily life, and, of course, the battle I face being an alcoholic and addict.

Today, my life is truly a gift from God, one I could only have dreamed of behind the walls and longed for many, many years. I’m Nana (who actually shows up when I say I am!!). I’m Mom (not Wendy, as my kids called me when I was active). I’m employed. I’m a soon-to-be college grad (Biblical Studies). I have my own apartment (I lost EVERYTHING I owned in a beautiful 4-bedroom home in the country when I was taken into custody). But, most of all, I have my recovery. Without it, I HAVE NOTHING; I AM NOTHING.

Yesterday I celebrated four years of recovery!!! It’s an amazing feeling and accomplishment, only possible with the love and support from the Fellowship and the Herren Project. I NEVER thought this life was possible for an alcoholic/addict like me.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of hope, prayer, and love. And please, don’t leave the Fellowship of recovery. You’re a miracle in the making, and there are big big plans for you and your story. With sincere gratitude for life and Herren Project. Be safe, be well, and Stay Blessed. – Wendy Filkins

Herren Project gave me the opportunity to get the treatment that I truly believe saved my life. They supported me throughout my early recovery and gave me hope that I could get better. Being a scholarship recipient instilled in me the value of helping others in recovery, and I am now honored to work as a recovery coach with them. The team of staff at Herren Project is some of the most dedicated and compassionate people I have ever met, and I am eternally grateful for the work that they do. – Shea Packard, Herren Project Recovery Coach

It took me a long time to lose everything I loved to my addiction, and it took a long time to battle the disease of addiction. But when I was ready, the Herren Project was there, helping me get back on my feet. Herren project made it possible for me to go to a sober home and gave me the support of a recovery coach to help me as I learned how to live in sobriety and its many bumps along the way. I am grateful today that I am able to live independently but still with the support of my sponsor. I am Happy, I am sober, and I am Supported! It doesn’t get any better! – Kerri S.

My name is Katie, and I am extremely grateful for the Herren Project along with my recovery coach Lacey who was assigned to me. I now have four months clean and sober, and I’m not sure I could have done it without the help of the Herren Project. I would be homeless and most likely active if I wasn’t so lucky enough to receive the assistance that you provide. It’s because of your foundation that I was able to be placed in an amazing sober home and get on my own two feet. I want to thank Herren Project along with my recovery coach Lacey for all the support and hope you all gave me. This recovery journey has not been easy, but it has been well worth it! You all made this possible, and I truly am eternally grateful. You all are a part of saving my life! Please continue doing what you all do. – Katie McIntyre

My name is Elijah Mourning, and I’m an alum of Herren Project. Ever since I started my sober journey, everyone involved has been nothing but motivating and understanding, especially my recovery coach Dimitri Bakes. He has been everything and more to me—a friend, a mentor, and even a father figure in some ways. I hope I can be as strong-willed and positive as him one day. But just like he taught me, everything is one day at a time, and you will eventually get there. On that note, thank you to him and everyone at Herren Project for the love and support. I wouldn’t be where I am now without you guys, and I can’t wait to continue this journey, building memories, knowledge, and life experiences on the way. – Elijah Mourning

I am so very grateful for Herren Project and my recovery coaches, Dimitri and Ronnie. In the first five days of September, I have been to several events celebrating Recovery Month. While at these events, I have gotten an overwhelming sense of gratitude for Herren Project and my recovery coaches. Tomorrow will be one year since I left a six-month rehab program, and in that year, the strongest influences and supporters have been my Herren Project Recovery Coaches. The patience, kindness, compassion, knowledge, and accountability my recovery coaches have given me are at the center of my recovery. So much so that I followed their example, and I am now working in the field of recovery and giving back what was given to me. Thank you for playing such an important and incredible role in my recovery! I am forever grateful! – Brian Hughes, Herren Project Recovery Coach

I want to take a minute and thank you for the support I received from Herren Project on March 10, 2019. I was sitting in a Colorado jail, unsure of where my life was going. I have been an addict for over 25 years and knew I didn’t want to use, but had no idea how to stop. I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive a scholarship to Immersion Recovery Center in South Florida. I had the support of my recovery coach JoJo who helped me become a woman with integrity. JoJo encouraged me to see a better life. The best part is that she was a woman in recovery herself and could understand every feeling of shame and guilt I had. I would have never had this opportunity if it wasn’t for the Herren Project. I worked very hard on myself and have 3½ years of sobriety today. I have the honor of working for Herren Project and recently had the doors open for me to be a 12-step contact at Immersion Recovery Center. Words can not express the gratitude I have for this foundation. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in me before I could believe in myself. – Angel Gallegos, Herren Project Recovery Coach

I want to give a huge shoutout to Herren Project. I went into detox lost with no health insurance and nowhere to go. With the help of the Herren Project, I was placed into a great recovery center. With Herren Projects’ help, I was referred to an awesome sober house. Once I got to the sober house, I was placed on a two-month scholarship where I was able to get a job and save money. My recovery coach Dimitri has been with me every step of the way and gives me that added motivation which really helps. Dimitri checks in on me every week and guides me thru this process. Because of Herren Project, I now live in a sober house, my mom and dad, who have never given up on me, are in my life with new hope, and I have never been happier. Thank you so much Herren Project. – Tyler Z.

I want to make my thanks known to Herren Project for their help in supporting me on my recovery road. I can’t say enough about Miss Tara. I really appreciate her time and effort towards my recovery. A special thanks to you. God bless you all, and again thank you dearly. – Juan G.

Almost three years ago, after suffering a near-fatal relapse, Herren Project offered me the gift of recovery by awarding me a scholarship to treatment and sober living. Along with this scholarship, I was assigned a Recovery Coach, Andrew, who guided and helped me navigate those early days in my recovery journey. Over a thousand miles from home, my coach gave me exactly what I needed. He was a friend and companion, an ally and confidant, a motivator and cheerleader. He was a role model and mentor but not hesitant to be a truth teller when I needed it.

When I returned home, Herren Project was still there to support me in my recovery through their Alumni program and online support groups, which I in turn, started to host. Herren Project became my recovery community and my family. To this day, I still keep in regular contact with Andrew, who I now consider a brother.

Today, I have the privilege and honor to work with and serve the same organization that has had such a great impact on my recovery, an organization that helped save my life. In my short time here, I learned and see all that goes on behind the scenes to make this all happen. The tireless work of all these beautiful souls who share this common vision is truly amazing. For this, I will forever be grateful. Thank you! – Dimitrios Bakes, Herren Project Recovery Coaching Supervisor

To All the Herren Staff and future Alumni,
My name is Daniel Nazario, and I am a proud alumnus of Herren Project! I had entered the Farrell Treatment Center in New Britain. After leaving jail and coming off the worst year of my life, Herren Project entered my life at the most critical point in my time on this earth. Last year was a year I’ll never forget. I hit rock bottom and was completely out of possibilities. Along this journey, I met one of the greatest guys I know, Dimitri Bakes. He had come into my life for a reason which, at the time, I couldn’t even possibly think why. He found me in a hospital hallway after seeing my name pop up on the hospital radar with over 60 overdoses, and that were just the documented ones. I was in and out of jail more time than I had ever had been in my life and Dimitri stuck to me like a thorn in my side. After having the judge sit me down for 2 months, on the outside life went on. My wife Jinny struggled with her own depression and demons and all alone on top of me being incarcerated. At the start of 2022, two weeks before I was supposed to come home, I tried to reach my wife, only to find out days later she had died from an overdose. Dimitri knew that my love for that woman was unmatched by everything I loved on this earth, including myself. That year I made multiple attempts on my life, but eventually, I got the courage to get into Farrell Treatment Center with the help and support of Dimitri. He then introduced me to Herren Project and their program for scholarships upon leaving. My new recovery coach, Ronnie, started calling me immediately, and even on those days when I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I still answered his calls, and with his great advice, persistence, and understanding of him, I was able to vent, speak on my feelings and have a safe person I could call at all times. With the help of the Herren Project and all the great staff, facilitators, and coaches they have on their team, I must say it is a force to be reckoned with in our battle against one of the most insidious diseases. Today I live clean in honor of my wife, Jinny Nazario, and wouldn’t have been able to do it without the incredible support from Herren Project and their team. I hope to stay connected and involved with this program to pass on the support I was so freely given in the darkest depths of my life. I promise you if I can do it, you can do it only with the support of others and programs such as Herren Project.

HAVE THE COURAGE TO TAKE THE FIRST STEP. In Loving Honor of Jinny Nazario. – Daniel Nazario

Herren Project has helped me create a successful action plan with the help of my recovery coach Ronnie. I immediately became comfortable with Ronnie and created my action plan, which opened the door for employment opportunities and led me to enroll at Cape Cod Community College to become an Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor. I have been sober for 47 days and keeping my routine with the help from AA meetings, therapy, psychologist appointments, employment, and weekly conversations with Ronnie. I plan, upon completion of the CCCC Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor Certificate program, to become a counselor and help those who experienced the same addiction issues I have. I couldn’t be more grateful for the scholarship that helped me afford my sober house rent and support while I put my plan in motion and continued sobriety. – Daniel Davis

I want to start by saying that I have been 60 days clean, and that’s the longest sober time I have had in my entire life. If it weren’t for Herren Project, I wouldn’t have been put at the 4D Sober House, and my chances of being out here engaging in a sober community, getting the help of those who really want to see me prosper, wouldn’t exist. I want to express my gratitude to a very special individual who has been there to guide and support me in every way. My Recovery Coach, Dimitri has been my biggest motivation. He has been there to get me through a lot, and if it weren’t for him pushing me and encouraging my efforts, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am very thankful for both Dimitri and Herren Project. – Dani Fuerst

I received a Herren Project scholarship for my first month and a half in Tropic House in Delray Beach, FL, beginning in May 2022. Herren Project made it possible for me to leave residential treatment at Immersion Recovery Center and step down into a halfway house within the sober support community I had already started building. During 2021 and 2022 I was in treatment on three separate occasions with no success until receiving help at Immersion Treatment Center that Herren Project provided. I was offered halfway housing in the past but was unable to make it possible with my financial situation. My recovery coach, Angel Gallegos, made it feel so simple and comfortable to transition from residential treatment into sober living. The support I received from her after the transition has been second to none. I never felt alone and always felt that I could call her when needed. I don’t think I would have been successful without these resources. It’s a great feeling to finally feel like I can gain some traction in my recovery thanks to the support and assistance I’ve received through Herren Project. You will always have a place in my heart and story. – Brandee Mackenzie

I have been doing this work for a long time, and a reoccurring barrier we face is access to recovery resources due to financial limitations for our participants. As a Drug Treatment Court we have access to grant and County funding sources, but as with anything, it’s limited. With this particular participant, we were not only working through the financial piece but also the need for an emergency placement. He had been engaged in inpatient AODA treatment and with only 48 hours’ notice, his insurance notified the facility that they would no longer be covering services. In a Google frenzy to find this participant resources I found Herren Project. We had essentially one business day to figure out a plan, and I am so thankful for their quick response and even quicker follow-through. With one phone call, I could tell their dedication to the clients superseded any potential red tape, and the representative I worked with was absolutely fantastic. After hearing about this participant’s situation, the scholarship was approved within the hour. An act, that in the AODA field, is unheard of. This participant is now safe, sober, and thriving. The second chance he deserved. I am grateful for Herren Project and their much-needed mission. – Alisha N.

Herren Project has benefited me incredibly. Coming back into recovery, I was/bombarded with an avalanche of neglected responsibilities, relationships, and financial hardships all while absorbing the new, most prioritized responsibility of maintaining my sobriety and chasing recovery (AA, Sponsor, 12 Steps). The Herren Projects support allowed me ample time to o get acclimated to a new community while searching for employment conducive to my recovery. In addition to the financial support, they also offered a Recovery Coach, Tara, with whom I’ve built an outstanding rapport. She is a woman also in recovery who has personally traversed many common and unfamiliar challenges in sobriety. She has shared with me her experiences, giving me practical knowledge and helping me navigate my early sobriety with more confidence and security. When I found a new job, Tara, along with Herren Project, helped me secure a grant to purchase work clothes, bedding, and other necessities I hadn’t yet the funds to acquire. I have an immense and eternal gratitude for Herren Project and especially the Recovery Coach portion they provide with the grant. All I currently have to offer is my honest feedback about this program and I’m not only glad for the foundation but honored to be able to offer my account of its efficacy. – Travis Hintlian

I am writing to thank you once again for your kindness and understanding. The gift of extending my scholarship for an additional two weeks has allowed me to remain in the Round Pond sober house. During these past two weeks, I was able to concentrate more on my sobriety and not stress about my financial future. This also gave me the confidence to successfully interview (not once but twice!) for employment with The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. I will meet with their president on 9/13 and most likely be offered the job. Without your help, I truly believe I wouldn’t have been able to do this. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for everything you have done for me personally and for our community as a whole. – Lisa Fullerton

It was a cold, dark, dreary morning in February. The rain was coming down and I was huddled in my car.. a lost, cold, and sick man with no hope in sight. There was a knock on my window. I looked up only to see the sight that is so common for an addict in active addiction. It was the Police. They took me out of my car, took one look at me, and called an ambulance. They impounded my car, and off I went in an ambulance to the local ER. I had nowhere to go, no money, no clothes, no Hope. The social worker at the hospital came down to see me. I didn’t have many options. They tried calling many detoxes, but nobody had a bed. About two hours later, right before the social worker was ending her shift, she came running down to me, saying, “I found you a bed.” I said,” where”? She said Mclane Hospital Belmont but it’s non-smoking! I quickly said, “no way am I going if I can’t smoke!” She said, “David please give it a shot; you can do it.” I looked up at the ceiling and said god, please help me make the right decision. I told her I’d go on blind faith. It was raining and snowing out. It was a cold, dark, dreary ride to Belmont. I got there and smoked as many cigarettes as I could before I had to go inside to get admitted. I went in, and they admitted me. From that point on, I truly believe I was in gods hands. I didn’t even think about a cigarette. Maybe because I had two patches on and I was power shoveling snacks into my mouth!! After detox, they sent me to yet another place I had never been to. Naukeag Dual Diagnosis Hospital. When I saw the person who is responsible for placement after treatment, I told him I had no money or clothes so I couldn’t get into a sober house!! He said David, don’t worry, just have faith and let’s see what we can do. Two days later, he called me into his office and told me he got me a scholarship from Herren Project. Herren Project gave me two months of paid rent at Chelsea House. They also assigned a Recovery Coach to me. His name is Dimitri. From the first phone call, Dimitri made me feel comfortable and believe that there was hope. I was facing lots of little hurdles and challenges that I didn’t think I could get through. Again, I had no clothes, no money, no car. Dimitri always gave e me hope and tried to help me maintain a positive attitude about things. I made it through everything, and then just when things got better, my mom died. Dimitri and Herren Project were by my side, offering support immediately. They even sent me a nice card and a book on grieving the loss of a loved one..The Herren Foundation definitely gave me hope and a lease on a new life. Without their help, I would not be where I am today. Sober, happy, and living a productive life. THANK YOU HERREN PROJECT!!! – David S.