Guest Blogger: The Uniform Project’s Lesley Arfin on Fashion, Fundraising, and Recovery

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

The Uniform Project (UP) brings together style and social responsibility. Uniform Project “pilots” pledge to wear the same outfit – in inventive ways – every day for a month, in order to raise money for an organization of their choosing. This month, UP “pilot” and Substance Abuse Counselor-in-training Lesley Arfin is fundraising for Phoenix House! Here, Lesley tells us about her passion for this cause and shares her own inspiring recovery journey.

PH: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work with the Uniform Project? What does the Uniform Project do and how did you become involved?

LA: I’m a writer and author living in NYC and I’ve been blogging for a long time, on different sites as well as my own blog. Sometimes the focus is on fashion and style, but not always. The Uniform Project contacted me to be one of their “pilots” and I thought it sounded like an interesting challenge for a good cause.

PH: We are thrilled that you have chosen to raise funds for Phoenix House – what brought you to that decision? Why Phoenix House?

LA: Phoenix House was brought to my attention when studying for my CASAC (Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor) at the Resource Training Center. I researched Phoenix House a while ago – it always seemed like one of those recovery places that is really great and just keeps getting better. I have some friends who are Phoenix House graduates as well, and that means a lot to me.

PH: Why is substance abuse treatment a meaningful cause for you? How has addiction touched your life?

LA: This disease has shaped my life. I have been sober now for eight years, and have also been in treatment on more than one occasion. Addiction can be devastating, and the disease itself can often be confusing to a lot of people – not only those who have it, but also those who have to deal with it in their family. It’s crucial to educate people about addiction, so we become better prepared to prevent and treat it.

PH: While raising funds for Phoenix House, what sort of feedback have you received from friends, family, blog-readers?

LA: Everyone thinks it’s a great cause. When I thought of Phoenix House it was one of those light-bulb moments where I was like, “Duh!” It also makes sense for me to raise funds for Phoenix House because a lot of my readers are familiar with the book I wrote, Dear Diary, which really focuses on my personal history with substance abuse.

PH: What have you learned from participating in this project?

LA: Wearing the same dress every day and making it look cute is a lot harder than I thought!

PH: What do you think the future holds for those seeking treatment for substance abuse? How can we strive to erase the stigma of addiction?

LA: I think addiction is becoming more widely recognized as a disease – one for which many people need to seek treatment. It seems like the field is getting stronger and I think awareness is continuing to grow. When there is more awareness, there is more acceptance – and acceptance means a greater hope for long-term recovery.

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