Today I went to speak in downtown Houston, and navigating was difficult, even in a car. Luckily I wasn’t on a bicycle, as it would have been impossible, and I was even more luck I didn’t have to drive – John Shiflet was taking me. He took me to all my speaking events, and by the end of the day he had heard me tell my story 5 times!
I arrived at Right Step and told my story to some patients with their families. They asked a few questions and John was able to talk about his program at U of H. I learned that he was also going to tell his story for a Young People conference fundraiser that night. We had a fun time joking around and were remarkably similar in some ways. He was beyond helpful in setting the talks up and taking me around and I really appreciate his efforts.
After Right Step, we headed to his space at University of Houston and began to set up for my talk there. One of the APG’s showed up and most of his students from the center, as well as the community. I spoke for an hour and then stayed after to talk with some of the kids who all wanted to ask questions and take pictues. I learned more about “Cornerstone,” the name of their Alternative Peer Group. They had just been on a three week dog sledding trip in Alaska, and are going to Oregon this summer. How cool is that?! They invited me to go mountain biking with them the next day, and I told them I would try if I had time after speaking. We hurried from there to go to the event to hear John Shiflet speak.
He delivered one of the most powerful talks I ‘ve heard. He went back to school when he was 36 years old, having dropped out in the 9th grade, and receiving his GED while incarcerated. He got the opportunity to go Texas Tech after being sober for a year, and graduated in 2012 in the Addictive Disorders and Recovery Studies program, earning his BS. He came back to Houston and counseled adolescents where I spoke the day before. He then got an opportunity to volunteer with the CRC at U of H and just this year got the position as the Director. He was chosen from a pool of 94 applicants and I can see why. He is extremely passionate about education, and recovery, and is very the way he interacts with young people is truly inspiring.
This guy went above and beyond for me as a guy passing through – I can only imagine what he would do for his students. Most importantly he shows his gratitude not only through words, but how he lives his life, and in his compassion for others. There were hundreds of young people excited about the International conference, which is going to be held in San Antonio in a few months. I told some people about what I was doing, but I was getting a little burned out from talking, and decided to do more listening. I was so happy to be able to hear John’s story and we talked the whole back to his house about our lives and the common peril we both had and the awesome opportunities we had today because of recovery.