Gratitude during pandemic holiday times

Positive-Directions-Equals-Change-Zoom-Recovery-Network-meetings-1221, Gratitude during pandemic holiday times, Culture Currents

by Cregg Johnson, Cedric Akbar and Andria Bagwell

It has been an extraordinary year as we have faced both real and imagined death and loss of our ability to be with the people we love, loss of our plans in the suffering of a two-year global pandemic. While witnessing clients grapple with depression, anxiety and substance use during the pandemic, Positive Directions Equals Change has also seen profound expressions of gratitude and connection. Despite all, there has never been a better time to be genuinely thankful than this holiday season. 

On Sept. 7, 2021, the organization opened the Positive Directions Treatment, Recovery and Prevention Academy, an alternative-sentencing program that serves up to 84 formerly incarcerated men. Program participants receive up to 30 months of transformational support in a structured residential setting – at no cost to them. 

Spearheaded by Steve Adami, director of San Francisco Adult Probation Department’s Reentry Division, and in partnership with Westside Community Services and Positive Directions, the academy works to help former prisoners live honorably and independently. 

PDEC-group-photo-breast-cancer-awareness-event-110421, Gratitude during pandemic holiday times, Culture Currents
PDEC took a group photo at the Nov. 6 breast cancer awareness event!

The TRP Academy is a culturally responsive, peer-led, abstinence-based, therapeutic teaching community (TTC) and transitional housing program. The mutual self-help community has a recovery orientation, focusing on whole-person care and overall lifestyle changes, not simply abstinence from drug use. ​​

The TRP Academy infuses a strength-based approach into the program’s culturally responsive guiding principles of respect, interdependence and accountability. The model supports peer-to-peer interaction and instruction, creates a sense of family, and fosters a support network that reaffirms prosocial values and behaviors. 

A core tenet woven into the fabric and ethos of the program is community service – it is a foundational part of the TTC (therapeutic teaching community) and provides students the opportunity to give back to the community. The overarching goal of the program is to advance racial equity and teach students how to live. ​​

The program is open to all justice-involved men in San Francisco. TRP’s priority population are individuals who are on probation, state parole, federal probation, or those released on pretrial.

Community service

To whom much is given, much will be required. Whatever the challenge, it is so important to have a community of supporters, and exercising gratitude along the journey is monumental. In the current crisis, volunteering is comforting, helping people to overcome feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. 

For many of the homeless, holidays are just another day without food or shelter. To ensure the spirit and tradition of the holidays are shared with the less fortunate, some 300 meals were served during the organization’s annual Thanksgiving community event.

Throughout the pandemic, Positive Directions Equals Change joined with community-based organizations and churches to deliver daily meals to folks and families in need. That community service was also seen at its health and wellness community meeting where the audience learned about Black-African American women’s breast health journey and what’s on the horizon to create sustainable, community-driven solutions for improving breast cancer outcomes and to reduce cancer disparities. 

That community service was also seen in helping to eradicate the food desert in the Bayview, in partnership with St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church. Positive Directions Equals Change provides volunteers to distribute produce on the first and third Saturday of each month from 12 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

Community service allows volunteers to feel part of the community. All of this is made possible by the organization’s members and interns, community partners and supporters who donated their time, talent and resources throughout the year.

Many thanks to the San Francisco Bay View newspaper and its owners and staff for the opportunity to share our vision for a better tomorrow with the “Recovery corner.” You make the difference!

If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Positive Directions Equals Change, a community-based organization in the Bayview, offers classes and support groups each day of the week. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at 415-401-0199 or email our team at The schedule is below and all are welcome.