Faces of Recovery

Faces of Recovery

These are the faces and stories of recovery. Stories of resilience, hope and dignity. In this ongoing project I sit down with members of Recovery Cafe San Jose who share stories from their lives while I draw them. 
Many of us know of addiction and homelessness through statistics and reports. No names, no faces, no real people: the sort of data that makes empathy, understanding and kinship difficult. Through these individual stories, I hope a different narrative emerges. One in which we will be astounded by the human spirit and it’s ability to overcome what seems unsurmountable. One that helps put a face to homelessness and addiction.
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This is Izeda.
“You could make a movie of my life. Quentin Tarantino should direct it.”

1_Izeda
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This is Diana.
“I shared my story. I stopped feeling dirty. I felt free.”

2_Diana_Wildflower
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This is Rosanna.
“Because of Recovery Cafe, now I can say it was great to be alive.”

3_Rosanna
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This is Tony.
“You learn to watch your back in prison. You do your time. You get out.”

4_Tony
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This is Alan.
I decided “You owe yourself a better life.”

5_Alan
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This is Agustin.
“I was ashamed. (Now) I smile. I am light.”6_Agustin

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This is Cindy White.
“I left home at 17 and it took me until I was almost 30 to complete high school but I did. I persisted.”

10_CindyWhite

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This is Toni.
“After 20 years of homelessness I’m in independent living now.”

11_Toni

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This is Mike.
“Recovery Cafe fills that need for family in my life.”

12_Mike

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This is Perry E Jackson.
“This is my safe haven. I show up and talk to people here. It’s the least I can do to give back.”

13_perry
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This is Hector Schneider.
“I paid rent to my parents since I was 13. I worked 4 jobs for the money.”

13_hector

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This is Rose Isabella.
“22 years ago I decided to go clean. Why? Because I had to, to not lose everything.”

14_Rose_Isabella

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This is Monica Lopez.
“Being homeless means no showers. No bathrooms. You watch your back all the time.”9_monica_lopez

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This is John Duckworth.
“Here at Recovery Cafe we want to blur the lines…Everyone is included.”7_John_duckworth

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This is Gabe.
“Compassion. Second chances. These are important.”
8_Gabe

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This is Nat Duran.
“I’m clean now. I say hi to people when I meet them.”
nat_face

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This is Matthew.
“I volunteer in the kitchen here at Recovery Cafe twice every week. It gets me out of bed, it makes me feel productive.”
matthew_face

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This is Linda Rogers.
“My daughter says to me: The light in your smile hits your eyes again.”
linda_rogers

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This is Dean Chen.
“At Recovery Cafe everyone is here to improve themselves. I like that.”
dean_chen

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This is Marianne.
“it was a terrible time. It was a wonderful time. Terrible for the lack of meds, the pain, the death. Wonderful for all the people who stepped up to help.”

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This is Chris.
“I was given the gift of recovery. Someone threw me a lifeline. I got to re-write my story. I have the choice to give back – to be the role model I never had. It’s a gift.”

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This is Sharon Grennan.
“Love is love. The heart goes where it has to go.”

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This is Terrence Arnold.
“Recovery is not a conclusion, it’s a journey.”

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This is Tonie Doose.
“My dad died when I was two. That was hard.”

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This is Ray Castellon.
“The hospice nurse found me, one week later, in the room with my mother’s corpse. I spent the next 10 weeks in El Camino hospital.”

She’s seen tough times but through it all, Jane Stroud has been given at least as much as she has received. She works as a caregiver for the elderly and spends all her free time crocheting scarfs and blankets, most of which she gifts, often to friends at Recovery Cafe.

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Alex Burchfield and I sat down and chatted on an important day: he was marking 6 months of being clean, getting back to completing his GED, taking Peer Mentoring Classes at Recovery Cafe, all while dreaming of going back to school to learn movie-making.

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As a 10-year old Jean Paul Bettencourt suffered unimaginable trauma. And it’s brought him to believe that his calling in life is to be a healer.

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I’ve lived as a man and a woman.” says Triza Laxmi.”I’ve seen things both ways. It makes me a very inclusive person.”

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Andres has lived in group homes since he was 1. Having schizophrenia and a learning disability makes every challenge he faces even harder. Yet he hangs on to his dream, to own a harmonica and record a CD.

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Samuel Alex Martinez didn’t want to say much about himself on the day we sat together. But he did tell me how much he loves his music.

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May 6th, 2022 will mark 30 years of sobriety for Doc Waite, a landmark he is proud of.

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Jane is one of the most positive, joyful people I have sat down with. And her enthusiasm is infectious. “I want to be for other people what I want for myself,” she says, “A companion; Someone who makes today a little better.”

Meet Alicia Prioste, who never gives up. She’s working towards a degree in child development.

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“Faces of Recovery” is an ongoing project with members of Recovery Cafe, San Jose.  

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Meet Don Martin, 6 years in recovery. A man who loves people dreams big and looks ahead.

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This is Claudia Puentes. At 26, she decided she didn’t want to die (like many of her friends around her). She’s now been in recovery for 20 years. Her dream is to get back a job she lost with Downtown Teams, helping the homeless.

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Raman taught a mindfulness class for a while and he now teaches what he found to be a healing practice for himself, and one he hopes helps cafe members: Tai-chi.

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The Culinary and Nutrition Class, called “From Food Bank to Table” was taught by Diana Garcia from Second Harvest Food Bank and used fresh and canned food that you could pick up at the Bank. Participants used their imagination (no recipe provided!) to put together a nutritious dish.

Second Harvest of Silicon Valley provides food to anyone in need of groceries, prepared foods, or fresh produce and without access to them. You can learn more about them here.

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You can read more about and support the amazing work of Recovery Cafe here.