By David Coe, Executive Director, Colonial Behavioral Health
My office at CBH isn’t really different from any other office. It has a desk, chairs, computer, papers, books on bookshelves, pictures on the wall (including family), a clock, etc. – the usual stuff. However, there is one item, a small picture frame holding a coin in place, a picture that tells a story I never tire of sharing.
I was born and raised in the south central portion of Virginia, and had the privilege for 14 years to work at the local Community Services Board (CSB) in that area. There, I worked with several different populations, but none so much as those persons with substance use disorders. We had thousands of persons come through our programs during those years, each with their own unique individual struggles. As a Division Director, I did not have the opportunity to work with most of those we serve very closely, but I did often get involved in our most troubling and difficult situations. Such was the case with Jeremy (not his real name).
Jeremy was a young adult from our area that had developed a full-blown addiction while in college, and had returned to work in a professional field – but as a “functional addict,” meaning he could hold a job and “keep up appearances” for others to see. That didn’t last long, and Jeremy ended up losing almost everything. He received an education both in the classroom and on the streets. His addiction progressed, and he became involved with services at the local CSB.
Over the years, Jeremy failed treatment many times, and the local CSB invested many thousands of dollars into those services. His was a case that many would say was hopeless, and more than a few persons expected Jeremy to die at an early age. However, a mixture of perseverance and circumstances came together for Jeremy, and he began the road to recovery – with a vengeance. He got clean, dedicated himself to repairing the damage he had both suffered and caused, and became a strong advocate for recovery. In a few years, he actually came to work for that CSB and immediately began impacting others (consumers and staff alike) as an amazing staff member.
I left that position to come to Colonial Behavioral Health in 2004. In my last few days there, Jeremy’s mother hosted a farewell luncheon for us at her home. There I received one of the greatest surprises and honors of my life. I had not known that Jeremy had been giving away his anniversary recovery “chips” from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) each year to someone that had made major contributions to his recovery. I was surprised, but never so surprised as to be handed his Seven-Year chip.
This AA chip is the framed coin in my office, and it is my most treasured professional possession. It rests in my office, but both the chip and the recovery still belong to Jeremy. After all these years, that chip and Jeremy still remind me every day of the power of recovery.
David Coe serves as Executive Director of Colonial Behavioral Health, providing mental health, intellectual disability and substance use disorder services to the counties of James City and York, as well as the cities of Williamsburg and Poquoson. David has been employed at Colonial since March 2004, and previously held the positions of Clinical Director and Director of Planning & Development before assuming his current position in 2007. David holds a MA in Counseling from Liberty University and a MBA from Old Dominion University.