Alumna Puts Gratitude into Action

Alumna Kim K. puts her gratitude into action
Two friends walking together in the city at sunset
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Kim K. credits her parents, shown with her here, for providing unconditional love and support throughout her recovery journey. Kim's father felt such gratitude for her recovery that he joined Hazelden's New York Board of Directors in 1994 and later served as chairman of the Hazelden Foundation Board of Directors.

"When we give, we receive—and we recover."

At age 29, Kim K. defined success as working hard and playing hard. And she excelled at both.

"My job as a television producer was a dream come true. I had a fabulous apartment in New York City. Lots of friends, rewarding work, a loving family—and, it appeared, a very big life."

On the flip side of that big life, though, Kim was struggling. While alcohol had been a steady companion since her teenage years, cocaine was fast becoming Kim's new best friend. It was a reckless relationship, demanding more and more of Kim's time, attention and resources.

Worried that her drinking might be spiraling out of control—but careful not to reveal her cocaine use—Kim confided in her parents that she might be an alcoholic. It was a problem she was prepared to face. In fact, Kim had the perfect rehab plan all worked out. She would spend spring break at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California, which happened to be located just down the road from the family's vacation home. Kim's spring break treatment proposal appeared somewhat suspect to her parents, who told her she wasn't an alcoholic; she just wanted to be "warm and tan."

Six months later, when Kim's parents discovered that cocaine was in the picture, everything changed.

"My father happened to show up at my apartment unannounced," said Kim. "It was the middle of the day—a workday. My place was filled with drugs and alcohol and people. I was a mess. My father saw it all up close and personal."

An intervention soon followed, involving Kim's employer.

"Working as a television producer meant the world to me, so my father knew enough to get the people I worked for involved. They told me I was really talented and creative, but I wasn't dependable. They couldn't count on me to show up. I was devastated to hear that."

Freedom from addiction

After researching treatment options, Kim and her parents arranged for her admission to the inpatient program at Hazelden Betty Ford in Center City, Minnesota.

"My family made sure I boarded the plane to Minnesota, and off I went. That was July 4, 1989—my so-called Independence Day."

Two weeks into her treatment program, Kim's parents traveled to Center City to take part in the Family Program. Kim had reached a breaking point. She was experiencing the pain and confusion of withdrawal, felt terribly lost and alienated, and was questioning whether she fit in at Hazelden. Her answer arrived through a series of uncanny coincidences involving two rocks she found on Hazelden's trails, the July 16 meditation from Twenty-Four Hours a Day, and a heart-to heart with her parents. Long story made short: the Universe conspired to let Kim know she was, indeed, exactly where she needed to be.

Gratitude in action

Fast-forward 26 years. Kim has, in her words, made her "mess" her "message." She works as a clinician and is the founder of Butterfly House, a women's recovery residence in Palm Beach County, Florida. Kim has made it her life's work to help others find freedom from active addiction.

An enthusiastic and active Hazelden alumna, Kim also decided to celebrate her recovery by designating the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in her estate plan. She describes her legacy gift to the Foundation as an act of gratitude.

"If not for Hazelden, I would not be here. I would not be alive," Kim attests. "I received the gift of my life back from Hazelden, and in turn, I give back by staying sober and helping others achieve sobriety. That's how I show my gratitude in action."

For Kim, giving and receiving are the same. "When we give, we receive—and we recover."

A 1989 Hazelden alumna, Kim K. works today as a certified addiction professional, licensed mental health counselor, certified trauma therapist, and board-certified professional counselor. In 2008, she founded Butterfly House, a women's recovery residence, in Wellington, Florida.

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