Hope Beyond Hockey: My Mom’s Mission Finds Meaning in Father’s Day Hero

For years, my mom only saw snippets of my work life – hurried phone calls, nights spent covering the hospital, missed holidays, and the occasional enthusiastic rant about saving lives. 

This all changed when I invited her to witness, firsthand, the heart of what I do. The occasion? The long-awaited grand opening of a brand new outpatient facility for substance use disorder (SUD) treatment in Philadelphia’s Chinatown.

Walking into the facility was like stepping into a haven. Warm light bathed the modern, yet calming space. Gone were the sterile, institutional vibes often associated with treatment centers. Here, comfort and hope seemed to emanate from the very walls. Mom, visibly impressed, couldn’t help but smile.

Witnessing mom’s reaction to the facility (especially the “Zen Den”) and the people who created it, solidified the importance of my work. 

It’s not just a job; it is a chance to support the presence of safe spaces for healing, just like the one we were standing in. It’s a chance to offer a hand up to those battling addiction, just like Chris, Brandt, and Ed were doing so selflessly.

A highlight of the day was mom’s meeting a driving force behind this remarkable facility – former Philadelphia Flyers’ defenseman and proud dad, Chris Therien. 

Chris, a name I frequently mention with admiration, exuded an infectious passion for helping those struggling with addiction. He spoke with such sincerity and dedication that even the most skeptical listener couldn’t help but be moved. Mom was particularly touched by his unwavering commitment to making recovery accessible and dignified.

When Chris shared his personal recovery story, and the full-circle story of this much-celebrated treatment center, she was inspired. 

Here was a man who had seemingly achieved everything, yet had also grappled with his own demons. His presence, his passion, and his willingness to be a beacon of hope for others, resonated deeply with everyone present, my mom included. When Chris told the audience, “I sell hope…” we all wanted to get in line.

When Chis, in a pre- Fathers’ Day inspiration, talked about celebrating his happiness and success through the great success of his children, she heard that as only a mom could. 

Knowing that successful treatment of SUD must include support from the community, I was very pleased to see members of the Philadelphia and Delaware County law enforcement and justice systems. When families, employers, and neighbors understand addiction as a treatable illness, they can provide encouragement and a safety net, fostering a more hopeful path to recovery.

On Thursday, the line between my professional life and personal life blurred beautifully. Mom saw the tangible impact of recovery work, the passion that fueled it, and the lives it aimed to touch. It was a day of shared pride, a deeper understanding, and a renewed sense of purpose. 

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