Step 6-Change of Heart

Step Six: “Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses."

Willingness is the key in this step. I have not had a moment in my life, in which I have asked my higher power to remove all of my defects of character. I clearly understand that without asking for the help and being willing to do the work needed to change, I will not be freed from the bondage that is associated with my defects of character. I also understand that after working on and writing about my sixth step, that I have the rest of my life to increase my willingness. This is not to say that I want to remain stuck, however just to say that freedom is not free.  My defects of character have helped me to navigate through life, at times (I think), that I’m ready to ask for the removal of them all. Then suddenly, I act out on about three of them at once. I may or may not be aware of the behavior instantly, however, I do check in with myself at the end of my day and explore my overall behavior. I want to gain a clearer insight spiritually and see my defects of character flaring up, before I act out on them. The only way that this can happen, is for me to continue my recovery and maintain open mindedness. 

-Christine, PILLARS Member

Step 5- “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."


When taking the 5th step in recovery, I needed to read it, process it, and then pray on it, to share with another how spiritually ill I was. It helped a great deal to have a recovery coach who I trusted to bare my soul to. From my earliest days, I was sent to a church and they often said “God is going to punish you for this or that”. When I became convinced that God forgives me when I wake up after going to sleep at night, and with every breath I take. It was easier to forgive myself for all the unhealthy things I’ve done to other’s as well as to myself. Our mother was the first person who I found the courage to address, with all the pain I caused her. My first born was next. When she said “I thought you didn’t love me, when you left mom”. I felt so small, that I caused her to feel that way. Her acceptance of my present state in recovery, surely inspires me to continue on this healthier journey. I actually feel very blessed to have been introduce to eastern traditions. These traditions along with training in the NADA 5-point ear therapy treatments, drives an internal engine to find peace in each present moment. I read all the fellowship literature that was suggested (Still do today) and read a book that suggested I say “goodbye to guilt”. Saying goodbye to guilt was huge for self-forgiveness. My high power (the universal god), lives inside. All external things are not as important as they once were. These 12 steps and traditions have,and continues to be a reminder of the deep despair I felt for so many years.


A New Outlook on Healthy Living

On Saturday April 7th, Sonja Herbert the founder of Black Girl Fit & Well in collaboration with The PILLARS curated an event called The State of The Healthy Black Girl. This event was centered around Black women, health and fitness.  The panel guests were inspiring Black female fitness instructors/trainers in health and wellness. The panelist specialized in Pilates, Personal Training, Swimming, Spinning, Education and Fitness Consulting, and Holistic Nutrition. Every panelist discussed their stories of personal growth through fitness and explained how important fitness is in Black Women’s Culture and Health. The entire panel explained the importance of exercise and healthy eating because these habits can prolong life and allow everyone to live life to the fullest.

One of the panelist, Ms. Myrna Brady, stressed how important it is to wake up in the morning and take a moment for yourself. She explained that many people fail to realize that a healthy life starts with self-care. Furthermore, that it is crucial to learn to love yourself and embrace who you are through the process of self-care, because then you can truly live life to your highest potential. Ms. Myra suggested waking up in the morning and taking five minutes to tune into yourself. Another panelist, Ms. Crystal Williams, spoke about health care for Black Women. Ms. Crystal Williams shared about her battles with her eye-sight at the mere age of 20 and how this forced her to change her diet.

A major point of the discussion among the panelists was exercising in a way that is feasible to you. Some of us cannot afford gym memberships or don’t have the time in our hectic schedules to devote time to the gym. However, we can exercise in our house for a few minutes a day. There are exercise videos on YouTube that cater to individuals that cannot go to the gym and they focus on utilizing the body as a machine. It is important that everyone discover a technique that allows them to take care of themselves and live a healthy-full life.

After an uplifting and educational panel discussion all the women switched into comfortable attire and worked out for 30 -minutes in The PILLARS. This event shared how to live a healthier life, enjoy a workout and the chance to be encouraged by other women.  Don’t worry, if you were unable to join us for this event because Sonja Herbert will be hosting another event within The PILLARS soon!

-Stephanie Camachoo, MSW Intern at The PILLARS

Now offering- Afro-fusion Dance!

Afro-fusion is a mix of African dances, offered at The PILLARS. This dance combines influences from Caribbean, African America, and African cultures. Afro-fusion has amazing benefits that reduce stress, all the while creating a great workout! By its expression and rhythmic movement, the body remains constantly active. Even more exhilarating is the spiritual experience where somehow your spirit, mind, and soul are connected. When dancing, you can feel a positive energy which helps to free emotions and escape from any stress.

If we enable our bodies to move freely, we empower ourselves. We will be able to express everything that comes from our hearts and put away every fear, stress, anxiety, judgment, or negatives self talk. For us Afro-fusion is more than a dance, its an opportunity to activity live out the  four tenets of the PILLARS. We care about creating new ways of looking at and living life. Holistic care is multi-dimensional and soothes deeper than the surface level, but rather supports a lifestyle worth living for. 

Join us every week for Afro-fusion classes. Feel the rhythm in the beat...

-Yissel Almonte, BSW Intern at The PILLARS

Join Our Community of Young People

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Are you feeling alone, depressed, stressed, anxious, fearful, tired, or struggling with addiction or mental health? Come to The SAFETY Net where you will be welcomed with open arms! You deserve to be supported and do not need to rely on negative coping skills any longer. Today is the day that things can change! Stop on by!

Being young and juggling everything that is demanded of you can be stressful. It is exhausting to be in school all day, partaking in extracurricular activities, working, completing homework and making time for a social life. It is not uncommon to feel isolated and like you are not being supported. The overwhelming stress, anxieties, and frustrations are too much to handle alone. So many people resort to drinking alcohol, using drugs, isolating or using other maladaptive behavior; however, these are not long-term tools and can become destructive.  

Good news though: you are not alone and you do not need to handle everything by yourself. Come to the SAFETY Net and become part of the supportive young people community. You will meet other teens and young adults who can relate to what you are going through and who can offer support. The community here at The SAFETY Net is welcoming to all and a safe place for everyone to come to.

In our center, we have a computer lab to do homework in, FREE classes to help manage stress, weekly game/movie nights, a space to relax and more! Furthermore, here at The SAFETY Net we provide alternative tools to manage stress and life’s changes, so that you do not need to rely on negative behaviors. Every week we offer yoga, reiki, acupuncture, and dance classes. We practice a holistic approach to help everyone who walks through the doors. We can also connect you to other services if you need support with mental health, addiction, eating disorder, etc.

Call or email us for more information about The SAFETY Net (OPENING MAY 2018)

-Shannon Blanch, BSW Intern at The PILLARS



Never Underestimate the Power of Gradual


Almost everyone I’ve ever met has lived a portion of life in the midst of a belief system that says he or she can finesse what’s necessary for themselves, if only they’re smart enough to think quick and take that punch. Timing is crucial, but if only I can jump on that big opportunity and pull the trigger, I’ll be set, done. No worries. I’m good.

That’s not how it worked out for me. Not that I didn’t have memorable and intense experiences, modest success in my vocation and avocation, and impressive social contacts. I started to live in a spiritually inefficient way. I spent several decades gradually laminating the layers of the thickening walls of my tiny dungeon of substance abuse and behavioral isolation. I was, in a word, disappointed in life, ignoring much of what anybody else could do for me or say about me. I felt cheated in life. I took the stuff so I didn’t have to care about me, or others. I quit. I ran my life like a predetermined wreck, enjoying the self-pity, thinking I was a loser, in bad faith and bad self image, believing the stigma of a street-stupid junkie was deserved but resenting it all the same.

In my mid-fifties, I finally had enough, admitted to friends that I needed help, and got it.  Eventually, I accepted the unique gift of recovery and acted as if I deserved something that huge. Never underestimate the power of the gradual to heal. I have never looked back.

That’s how I found The PILLARS. Through ongoing training and perseverance, I am allowed to, as we say here, “meet you where you’re at” when you walk in the door. As a Peer Advocate, I am actually qualified to meet you by virtue of my lived experience. Who could have imagined I would be of service by sharing what I have in common with others in recovery!? This grateful addict is able to have a purposeful conversation with someone he just met, listen actively to him or her, ask the right questions to discover where, exactly, his or her strengths lie, what’s been successful for the person in the past, and where we go from here, just for now. Holistic Recovery Support at The PILLARS is all about the freedom of self-directed recovery. Free! For the mind, body and spirit, the whole person and his or her family and community.

I believe the key to this ability is that my contribution is from the heart. I can’t be your counselor or treatment clinician; that’s somebody else’s lane, and I’m happy to refer a recoveree to our colleagues in the field who have the necessary skills for a friendly handoff. My task is a joyful one of cheerleader, active listener, lifestyle mentor, confidant, resource broker, advocate for pathways of wellness and recovery, and concerned friend and sounding board.

It’s also rewarding to share my experience with recoverees who express an interest in the twelve step program of my choice, when appropriate. My personal history more often than not has some similarity to that of the person now before me, making a commitment to his or her own wellness and recovery.

The PILLARS: Recovering people helping people in recovery

-Byron Stevens, Peer Recovery Coach at The PILLARS

Pregnant? Pass on the Pot

Many women understand the dangers of drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes while pregnant but are unaware that smoking marijuana while pregnant is also detrimental to the baby's health. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical compound found in cannabis, is able to cross the placenta and enter the baby’s system. Additionally, THC and other chemicals can pass through breast milk to the baby while mothers are breastfeeding. A baby exposed to THC may have issues like interference with fetal brain development, lower birth weights, higher risk of admission to the neonatal intensive care unit, and more. Additionally, an ACS case is immediately opened when a baby tests positive for THC. 

  The PILLARS Chief Executive Officer, Felecia Pullen, rallying the team outside of the Ulysses. S. Grant Houses. 

The PILLARS Chief Executive Officer, Felecia Pullen, rallying the team outside of the Ulysses. S. Grant Houses. 

In partnership with Safe in Harlem, Harlem Hospital, the New York Police Department (NYPD), ThriveNYC, the Army National Guard Counter-Drug Task Force and the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, The PILLARS began a campaign within Harlem NYCHA Developments to disseminate information to women on the topic so that they can be prepared to have a healthy pregnancy and in turn a healthy baby. The campaign began on Thursday March 29th at the Ulysses S. Grant Houses.

  Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, with partners disseminating information at the Ulysses S. Grant Houses. 

Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, with partners disseminating information at the Ulysses S. Grant Houses. 

The PILLARS is offering a FREE eight-week program called "Love Yourself, Love Your Baby". This program will be offered to pregnant women who want to learn holistic ways to deal with stress. We believe we can't just ask them to put marijuana aside without helping them pick up something in its place that is healthy and sustainable. The program will begin on Thursday April 26th for eight consecutive weeks, and will include services like yoga, meditation, and acupressure.

Check out the following article in the Manhattan Times for more information:

-Miranda Cazin, BSW Intern at The PILLARS

In Brett's Honor

 The PILLARS ribbon cutting ceremony

Brett should have been there.

Ann Bacek’s son Brett was a close friend of Felecia Pullen, who held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for her new facility and was joined by elected officials and community partners for the happy occasion.

But Bacek explained that her son died from substance abuse in December 2016.

After being clean for nearly 13 years, Brett suffered a relapse.

“I thought I was good, I thought he’d made it,” said Bacek. “It shows that the battle of addiction is ongoing. It never stops.”

She spoke at the opening of Pillars Recovery Center, a new space in Harlem providing free services for people recovering from substance abuse as well as their families – together with Felecia Pullen, its Chief Executive Officer, and Brett’s friend.

Harlem's PILLARS Recovery Center

City and State officials celebrated the opening of Harlem’s first center for substance abuse recovery Tuesday afternoon.

The new Pillars Recovery Center on 289 St. Nicholas Avenue near West 125th Street will help people maintain sobriety after drug addiction treatment through services such as support and educational groups and 12-step programs, officials said Tuesday.

The program was created by Harlem resident Felecia Pullen. The Fordham News reports that Pullen is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate School of Social Service researching how addiction affects her Harlem neighborhood. She is the president of Let’s Talk SAFETY, Inc., a not-for-profit dedicated to substance abuse prevention for teens and youth. And she is the chief operating officer of The PILLARS, a recovery center in the heart of Harlem.

Manhattan's First Addiction Recovery Center Opens In Harlem

The new Pillars Recovery Center on 289 St. Nicholas Ave. near West 125th Street will help people maintain sobriety after drug addiction treatment through services such as support and educational groups and 12-step programs, officials said Tuesday.

"One you're through with treatment you need that support in the community," New York State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said Tuesday. "Only places like this will support people in sobriety for a long time."

Governor Cuomo Announces Grand Opening

"Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the grand opening of the new $1.75 million Pillars Recovery Center in New York City. The center will increase access to free services for people in recovery from a substance use disorder and provide support to their families. With the opening of this center in Harlem, OASAS now has a recovery center in every borough of New York City."

I'm Seeking Job Elimination in 2017...

During my own addiction, I traveled down a dark, tumultuous and extreme winding road of despair. My designer-draped external shell was a mere smokescreen for my brittle-boned skeletal frame, which protected the directionless compass of my mind and ill-fated spirit. Despite all appearances, I was hopeless and rooted in fear and self-pity, my life was unmanageable, I was the queen of emotional manipulation, I abused others around me, I took numerous hostages, and I could care less of the wreckage which I left in my wake. After drugs and alcohol ceased to ease the pain, and to quiet the noises, suicide seemed the only way out. But, after several attempts to end my life, it became obvious that death was not the plan for me...but, why did I live?

That question crosses my mind everytime I lose someone to addiction. The answer is fraught with survivor's guilt; but, it is also grounded in gratitude. I lived so that I can tell my story of addiction, depression AND recovery. I lived so that the ultimate sacrifice, my life, did not have to be my way of giving back. I lived so that my journey in addiction would inform a new way of living. I lived so that I could, through a career in social work, substance abuse prevention and addiction recovery, help others to know the joys of a drug-free life too. I lived so that I could make amends for the pain I caused others. I lived so that I could change the way some view addiction. But, most importantly, I lived so that I could truly peace, in harmony with others, and in happiness.

Everyday, I work toward the eradication of substance abuse. Everyday, I actively participate in the vision and creation of a drug-free world. Everyday, I aim to teach others how I did that they can do it too. Everyday, I seek for my work to be focused in RECOVERY!

So, here's to being gainfully an addictions specialist in 2017!