What a Family Weekend!
The Schnellenberger Family Foundation and Recovery Boot Camp recently took over Marriott’s Fairfield Inn and Suites in Delray Beach for the inaugural Family Weekend. And the results were even better than our best case forecast!
The program began with Friday night’s Introductory dinner. Hosted by Howard and Beverlee Schnellenberger, as well as their son Tim, the participating client’s families got to meet one another, as well as the staff from Recovery Boot Camp. They also got to learn of the Schnellenberger family’s long struggle with its own addicted members, Tim’s personal and professional battle against the disease, and the reason behind their concerted efforts.
“I want to send all of the men home to you healthy and happy,” said Tim. “When I realized that the families also needed help, I got my parents involved so that we could educate everyone affected.”
Basic Training: Family Edition
And this first Family Weekend was more than a little educational for everyone. Saturday morning found the families in an intensive Basic Training: Family Edition workshop with Rabbi Mark Rotenberg. As every attendee of Basic Training: Family Edition knows, RBC’s Minister to the Community has a breadth of recovery experience. This session distilled into four hours a heaping helping of the knowledge and wisdom found in that weekly educational webinar. It also came with a touch of gentle foreboding.
“You will come into conflict during this process,” warned Rabbi Mark. “The addict doesn’t understand the family, and the family doesn’t understand the addict. Because of this, there will always be tension and conflict and pain. However, tensions and conflict lead to change. And without conflict or pain, you won’t change. That’s the beauty of it.”
Change was also the decided goal of the Multi-Family Group, which was the second part of Saturday’s program. Centered around a “hot seat,” the afternoon encounter used family impact letters to effect transformation. And from the emotions raised by families and their loved ones, it was indeed a transforming experience.
“When I arrived on Friday,I was resentful and angry,” said one of the attending Moms. “But yesterday meant so much. The impact letters were so special. I got real emotion from my son. He was honest and I feel like a real weight was lifted.”
Saturday night found the families left to their own devices, provided those devices included attending an open AA meeting with their loved one. And Sunday morning found both clients and attendees right back at it with Rabbi Mark.
The a.m. kicked in with a seminar on Boundaries/Enabling, one of the most crucial issues affecting families who are struggling with a loved one’s addiction. “Boundaries protect against the bad behavior,” said the Rabbi. “They also foster behavior you want to see.”
That session was followed by one on Compassionate Communication, which too often is missing from the family’s recovery equation. Are parents being heard? Are sons listening? And if so, to what degree? Rabbi Mark answered those questions and more, and he did so with his customary compassion.
What was the overall take-away from the inaugural Family Weekend? Well, we’ll let one attending family member speak for everyone.
“I have a lot of faith in the staff here,” said one of the Dads. “I saw where my son lives. It seems he has a sense of place of where he is. And I implicitly trust Recovery Boot Camp and the team here. The weekend couldn’t have gone better.”
We at RBC and SFF wholeheartedly agree. Our first Family Weekend could not have gone better. We’d also like to wholeheartedly Thank each and every attending family member for exhibiting such great courage. Recovery isn’t easy for anyone; with work, however, it can be successful.
We at the Schnellenberger Foundation would also like to extend a very special Thanks to Diane Kaufman and the family of the late Mark Kaufman. Sadly, Diane lost Mark to the disease of addiction. But we hope the good Mom finds some small comfort in knowing the funds she’s raised since her son’s untimely death are being spent to help spare other families such a tragic loss.