Director, Turning Point Center of Central Vermont by Gina Tron
Before Bob Purvis became the director of the Turning Point Center of Central Vermont, he had an op ed column at a Maryland newspaper. Writing has always been a big part of Purvis’ career, so he was thrilled when Writers for Recovery began conducting ten-week long workshops at the recovery center.
“It was a way for me to reconnect with writing so i really loved that,” he said. The center, located in Barre City, became the third to participate in the Writers for Recovery workshops. Purvis said that through them, participants discover they are much more creative than they thought they were. He called the workshop a wonderful adjunct to recovery support groups.
“To get positive feedback for something you’ve written, which is an extension of who you are, it helps further along the process of having a more positive self image,” Purvis explained. He credited that for boosting self-confidence. Reluctant at first, most participants became willing to share and read their writing to their peers.
“The goal is to provide positive feedback, not to criticize,” Purvis said. “So, they’re learning and they receive instructions on how to improve their writing. They listen and they take it to heart.”
It was so well received that Purvis continued a writing group, aptly called the Writers’ Group, even after the sessions ended.
“A lot of people don’t connect with 12-step groups and the Writers’ Group is kind of a way for a person to connect with a larger version of their story, a version that includes other people and things other than addictive substances. It includes fiction and poetry but it’s really a much broader kind of expression of what they are concerned with their recovery. Many of the topics aren’t about addiction and recovery but it often works its way into it in one way or another.”
This fall, Writers for Recovery began a partnership with VTDigger on a podcast series in which Writers for Recovery members read their work.
“There’s a positive effect on the people who do the reading,” Purvis said. “It’s really validating to them.”
He added that he hopes the broader community will become impressed with the talent of the participants.
“Anything that helps to chip away at the stigma and the stereotypes is healthy,” Purvis said. “So you’re seeing people who are clean and sober and they are reading this wonderful, creative and often powerful stuff that ranges from funny to reflective. And, it’s really touching.”