On Wednesday, September, 21, 2011, a Recovery Month Poetry Reading took place at the Phoenix House Academy of Orange County, featuring poet Dr. Maja Trochimczyk (Phoenix House Director of Planning and Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga) along with clients reading their own poems. Men and women in recovery listened to Maja’s stories about poetry as a way to deal with personal issues, help set and achieve positive goals, and express important spiritual ideas. She read a selection of her poems inspired by paintings from the Annual Plein Air Art Workshop at the site of the former Manzanar Internment Camp for Japanese Americans, and by artwork from the Pacific Asia Museum, by Stephen Lindsteadt, and Susan Dobay. The poems highlighted the themes of self-improvement, compassion, gratitude, and hope even in the most difficult circumstances. Maja also conducted “The Forest Game” – a psychoanalytic exercise helping understand one’s place in the world, sense of purpose and obstacles on the path to success.
Following the reading, all residents and staff participated in the Balloon Release Ceremony. In the garden outside, a circle was formed everyone holding balloons in all the rainbow colors of Phoenix House’s new Wings of Hope emblem. Clients attached to the balloon strings their notes about commitment to recovery, or in memoriam of a personal loss. After a brief introduction by Bobbi Johnson, Director of Adult Services, all the balloons were released and the expressions of hope for recovery rose up to the sky.