2009 Fellows

    Caroline Leone

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“I have always been afraid of drug addicts.  In my mind they were all scary, dirty, unconscionable people.  I never imagined that they would be people whose lives I could affect for the better, and that they would be able to change my life.  But now, after only ten weeks of getting to know and work with former drug users, addicts, and current drug abusers, I can say that I can count many of my patients as my friends.”

“This summer I worked as an intern in the methadone clinic, which is also a rehabilitation center for substance abusers, at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City.  My basic, clear cut tasks as an intern were to do a lot of paperwork.  I filed, I faxed, I copied, I filled out forms.  But as I became more familiar with these tasks, and as I got to know the clinic better and the patients better, my role developed into something much deeper than just an ‘intern’. As my supervisor and the other employees started to count on me for more than just administrative work, I stepped into bigger, more fulfilling shoes.  I did everything from leading therapeutic and activity to groups when the usual facilitators were not there, to making the clinic’s group room an open space for patients to hang out, to becoming an ear for patients’ problems, to making coffee every morning for a group of people who were more appreciative of their coffee than anyone I had ever seen.”

“My experience has informed my social consciousness by helping me to realize that people are people; including drug addicts. People who abuse drugs and alcohol need the same things I need, and we are not so different from each other. My experience this summer has opened my eyes, and more importantly my heart, to a whole group of people to whom I was previously blind. Not just addicts, but the homeless, the destitute, and people who might just need a smile and a kind word.”