Testimonials and Reviews From Residents

MELISSA

April 9, 2012

I’m writing this to share that my experience with Hugh McGee has been nothing but wonderful and life saving. I’ve had many many trials throughout my almost 8 years of being clean when I’ve had to call on Hughie to help… to listen… to stop me from crying… to help with my ex-boyfriend/my son’s father when I was at my wits end. Not to mention to help with sponsorees that had nowhere to go and didn’t know which way to turn. He’s ALWAYS been there. He’s ALWAYS been helpful and loving and caring. I truly believe there have been many instances where just helping someone for that second, that minute, or that one night saved their life. I got into a relationship while I was in drug treatment, got pregnant, started using again and got clean only to have my son’s father continue to use, get clean, start using, get clean, start using… over and over and over again. I’ve asked Hughie to intervene and try to help him when I’ve had times where my young son is involved with his father was possibly putting him in harm's way and he’s been there every time. I feel fortunate to call him friend and to know what kind of person he is and how big his heart is. I know all attempts to help people are not successful because at the end of the day it’s up to each of us as an individual to decide when we are done living that destructive lifestyle… but it sure helps to have even just one person to tell you it can be different and to lead by example. That’s what Hughie does. None of us are perfect but the one thing I see him do consistently and perfectly is stay clean and pass what he has onto others… as many as he can. He’s true to heart and his only agenda is to help people and see them live life to the fullest.

MIRIAM

April 5, 2012

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am honored to be writing to you regarding your potential investment into the recovery home that Misty Higgins and Hugh McGee are working towards setting up.


I speak to you as the family member of someone who suffered with drug addiction for most of his life. Despite this letter being very painful to write because my beloved passed away a mere month ago, I feel very strongly about the importance of what Misty and Hugh are trying to put together. The ‘Program’, as it is called by addicts, is paramount in the lives of people who suffer from the diseases that come from overuse and misuse of drugs.


I used to believe that drug addicts were people who simply, purposefully, made immoral, lazy, selfish and dishonest choices in their lives. I believed drug addicts to simply be the scourge of earth, the bane of society and should all be considered criminals who deserved societies disdain. I also, ignorantly, thought all drug addicts were jobless, homeless, bums. I was convinced that drug addicts were in control of themselves and simply chose to be drug addicts, and that they all got what they deserved in life. Pretty harsh thoughts and opinions in terms of the judgements of others.


Then, I met and fell in love with someone who was a drug addict. Clearly falling in love with someone clouded my view point of this person individually, but as the years passed with this person, my education, knowledge, and understanding grew about this disease and about drug addicts as a whole.


I have come to know that everyone is a product of their environment as they grow up in life, and that everyone has to deal with different forms of stress. I believe that how our psyche deals with these stresses changes us and that sometimes certain people encounter things that they simply cannot deal with and they therefore turn to drugs as a way of coping with and escaping from life and its difficulties. Physically, and chemically, drugs change you. Some people are affected slowly over time. Some people are affected immediately, permanently, with just one first encounter with a drug, and then their disease is born. Often times these drugs have been prescribed by well meaning doctors who never realized the devastating effects their script would bring. This is what happened to my beloved. Where I used to believe that drug addicts had a choice, I now know that they did not and that in order for them to overcome their disease, just like in diabetes, heart disease, or leukemia, extraordinary measures must be taken to help cure these people of what ravages not only their bodies, but their lives and their souls as well. I now know that these people with the troubled lives are some of the most honest, most real, and some of the kindest people I have ever encountered in my whole 50 years on this earth.


My whole world collapsed a month ago and despite the fact that I might not ever recover from this loss, and have had a difficult time trying to want to even stay on this earth for the rest of whatever is left of my own life, I am at least proud to say that for his sake and as a testament to ‘the program’, this disease is not what ultimately took him from me.


Drug addicts believe that unless you are a drug addict that you cannot understand what they go through, but I can tell you, after living and ‘dealing’ with one for the past 13 years of my life, I do thoroughly understand what they, and their families go through. I saw firsthand the struggle, the conflict, the angst, the financial burden, the shunning from society, the problems with the law, and the heartbreak for children unlucky enough to be born into these tumultuous family conditions. It was all a world that I was never exposed to in my younger years, but one that I have come to have a clear understanding of.


To that end, I cannot stress enough how the places like Hugh runs are ESSENTIAL not only for the ‘recovering drug addict’, but to their families, and in the bigger sense, all of society as well. Drug addicts prey on everyone around them and will do whatever they have to to get the drugs that will satisfy their disease. They throw away their whole lives in this pursuit. They often ruin the lives of those around them. Despite this strong drive, I now know that no drug addict chooses this as their life. No person wants this as their way of living and as much as they want their drugs, they wish they could change and ultimately save themselves. Unfortunately there are very few places geared towards helping the addict and his family.


You have before you now an opportunity to create just such a place. Hugh McGee offers that place where addicts can go and begin their lives again. Not only does Hugh take in and offer a new way and a fresh beginning for the addict, he also takes the time to work with the addicts family to help them understand how their lives as non-addicts have often only served as a negative ‘enabler’ to the addict. Hugh helps you learn and understand how the behavior of the non-addict negatively affects the addict, and how the family can change their ways so that going forward the suffering addict has a real chance for survival for the rest of their lives. The aspect of including the family, I believe, is one of the many key reasons for the success of Hugh’s program.


In short, Hugh creates an environment of safe shelter, support, and learning how to live again. His program is strict and harsh and it is exactly what the addict needs. It is a no-nonsense program where those who finally realize that they cannot overcome their disease alone can find the help they need. Without places like Hugh’s, I wholeheartedly believe that the sadness and tragedy that exists in these people's lives will certainly continue. Hugh creates a niche that is desperately needed by the addict, their families, and society. Anyone who endeavors to embark on this journey with Hugh stands the best chance for a better way, a real and fulfilling way, of life.


Anything you are able to do to support Hugh McGee’s enterprise will not only definitely return you a healthy financial return, but also reward you in the richness that comes from the knowledge that you may very well have saved someone's life. Hugh’s program saves lives. Invest in these lives. You won’t go wrong.


Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


Sincerely Yours,
Miriam

HANNAH

April 3, 2012

My name is Hannah and I'm an alcoholic and an addict. My sobriety date is March 18, 2011. I met Hugh within the first couple months of my sobriety. I was very new and yearning for a new way of life looking for someone to show me the way. Hugh was speaking at the Independence Club before a dance. I was speaking to chairwoman of the meeting and she introduced me to Hugh. He talked about "being spoiled" and having more than he could ever have asked for in life. He had this because he was sober. He was and is very motivational. He gets people's attention when speaking. He spoke about "staying" instead of "keep coming back" and "stop starting over!" I still remember it to this day. We talked about life for a couple hours that night and our friendship was sealed. We talked about how the only answer to life is love. And he told me of his ranch of animals and people and addicts having a safe loving place to get sober. It all sounded magical. So the next week I went to the Saturday night bonfire meeting. And it was all the magic he had described. Everybody was so welcoming and I became a part of the family. I bring friends with me sometimes and brag about Hugh and is magical house. I call him anytime I need to and anytime anything big happens. Funny thing...early in sobriety I started nannying for a family in my parents neighborhood and I told them about Hugh. It turns out the lady I work for was Hugh's ex-girlfriend many years ago and I was able to bring the family out to the ranch and they were reunited and he got to meet her family. God is awesome. So today I am still a part of the Hughie family and make it down there (I'm from Burke, Va, about an hour away) almost every weekend.

Love, Banana

HEATHER

April 3, 2012

To sit down and try to explain Rivendell to someone who has not experienced the magic that occurs there is no easy task but I will try.

I suppose I start at the beginning. I met my husband when we were 15 and looking back now I see that I fell in love with, married and had 4 children with an addict. We struggled for 20 years, years marked by the raging insanity of active addiction punctuated with brief periods of abstinence. Together we tried every way to battle the disease of addiction. We moved, thinking it was a location problem. We went to church hoping to pray it away. We changed jobs, friends, we found the world’s best medical help all to no avail.

I got counseling and eventually a restraining order. I was defeated. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was losing my husband and without a miracle he was going to die. I had lost all hope until the day we found Rivendell and Hugh McGee.

I don’t remember a lot about his first night there, just that I had a raging addict for a husband who seemed hell bent on killing himself by continuing to use. Hughie and his sister Marianne sat down with us and gave us the most important gift I have ever received. He gave me hope. He told me that it is possible to live happy joyous and free. Free from active addiction, free from white knuckled abstinence that doesn’t last. He promised us that if we followed direction, if we allowed the process to work we would one day live a life beyond our wildest imagination.

Now over 4 years later I can tell you that if I had written down that night what my “wildest dreams” for myself, for my husband for our 4 beautiful children were, I would have sold my family short.

It has not been easy, and it has not always been pretty. It was a long process during which we lost everything we thought mattered to us. We lost our home, our cars, jobs, pets and just about every material object we were certain we couldn’t live without. At times it has at times been ugly and quite painful, but today I am happily married to the man I always knew was under the addiction.

We have an amazing house, new cars, jobs that pay more than we ever thought we would earn. We also know that all those things mean nothing. We know that if all that vanished today, we would still be the richest we have ever been because we have the gift of recovery and that is because of Hugh McGee, Rivendell and our time there.

Heather K.

WENDY K.

April 2, 2012

My name is Wendy and I am a grateful recovering addict, free from the bonds of addiction since November 15, 1999. As I struggled to find meaning in my life and a sense of purpose and worth to my seemingly wretched existence, Hugh McGee gave me hope for the first time in many years. His sterling example of reaching out to others like myself to build something of value from the wreckage of lives spent in destructive behaviors of every type, opened my eyes to a new way of living. Service to others has become the hallmark of my daily life, and it was what I learned from Hugh McGee about reaching out to those in need that helped me make the decision in 2006 to move to the island of St. Croix, both to pursue a lifelong dream finally made possible by my recovery and also to bring my message of hope to an extremely insulated community with few resources, rampant substance abuse issues in the community and very little recovery. In the spirit of Rivendell, I now work closely with the only treatment center in the 3 US Virgin Islands to bring a weekly recovery meeting to the long-term inpatient clients there. We have started another meeting open to all in the community, and have also reached out to other local organizations including other Caribbean and Latin American recovery resources to try to bring that same spirit of hope and promise of freedom to a community with a long standing culture of substance abuse. I am grateful for my life, where I see the changes in the lives of others and see the rewards multiply and grow, but if I had not left Virginia, I would be at Rivendell. I believe in the spirit in which it works- the resources of personal experience and positive example in a strong mentoring program. What I have learned about life in recovery is what I learned from Hugh McGee many years ago- together there is hope for all of us, and together, we can make the world a better
place.

In loving gratitude,
Wendy K.

JESSICA

I've been clean since Jan 23rd 2011. Hugh Mcgee has been an integral part of my recovery. For almost three years I ran in and out of the rooms of narcotics anonymous barely able to put together a couple months. Hughie never gave up on me and was always available to talk when I needed it the most. He would tell me to "stop starting over." He took me to meetings and even helped host my baby shower shortly after getting clean this time. Hugh is an amazing man and helps so many people. I am truly blessed to have him in my life.

Jessica

STEVEN

To Whom it may concern Hughes McGee is the main reason I am alive today. December 23 2000 I was released from the Fairfax county adult detention center and had no place to go or no one to call all though I did the wherewithal to call my now deceased sponsor Kevin Adams he directed me to Hughies residence and I was welcomed there with much love I had a 25 year history of relapse and was beyond hope in most people's eyes , I had over 8 years of jail time under my belt and had been to over 50 some rehabs dating back to 1976 , I latched on to Hughe and friends learned about doing service work and have been clean ever since . My two sons now have a great Father and my parents a loving son without Hughes help I be dead or doing long term jail time I now own a two businesses employ over thirty people and feel as if I a productive member of society thank you Hughie

Steve C.

NICK

I met Hugh McGee in November 2008 when I was 19 years old. I had just tried to commit suicide after two failed attempts at inpatient rehab, and my parents had no idea what to do with me. After talking to a friend of Hughs, my parents, much to my displeasure, decided to send me to Rivendell. At this point in my life I had no desire to stop using drugs. All I wanted to do was go back to college in North Carolina and continue to be supported financially by my parents. Hugh immediately saw my true motives for entering treatment, but it did not stop him from extending unconditional love. I left Rivendell after 2 months against the advice of Hugh and the other recovering addicts in his program. I lasted about 45 days in North Carolina before I was arrested for numerous felonies and held at $54,000 bail. Of course my parents bailed me out, and I returned to Pittsburgh with the intention of staying clean. I ended up shooting dope everyday for 3 months. After being arrested for possession of heroin I finally realized that I could not stay clean on my own. I called Hugh and asked him if I could return to Rivendell. Obviously the answer was yes and thus began the happiest 6 months of my life. Hugh and his program taught me that I could have fun without the aid of chemicals. Until I met Hugh I really believed that this was impossible. He also taught me the importance of having real relationships with people. I made lifelong friends through Hugh’s program that have helped me though some of the most trying times.

I would like to say that I stayed clean and completed the program at Rivendell, but unfortunately that was not the case. I was too impatient and decided that I could get clean an easier, softer way. After leaving Hughs in 2009 I tried Methadone, Suboxone, Naltrexone implants, and Rivea shots. Some worked for a little bit, but I always went back to shooting heroin. And much to my annoyance, Hugh had been right about things getting worse every time I went back to using.

In March 2012 I finally decided that I’d had enough. I knew the only way I could get clean was through Narcotics Anonymous. The only time I could remember being happy without the aid of chemicals was the time I’d spent at Hughs. Although I could not afford to reenter Hugh’s treatment center, I did return to the Winchester area and am currently staying at an Oxford House. Since returning, I have been to the Saturday Meeting held at Rivendell every week. It is the only place I feel comfortable sharing openly and honestly which is paramount to an addict’s recovery.
I know that I would not be clean today if Hugh had not planted the seed of recovery in my head at the age of 19. His work with addicts is truly miraculous and it would be a disservice to every person struggling with an addiction if he was not able to continue.