By Gil Diaz
With the holidays just around the corner, it’s a precarious time for people in recovery.
“The holidays are always difficult—we see plenty of relapses taking place during the festivities,” says Kristen Anderson, the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s manager of addiction recovery services. “By January, unfortunately, we see an uptick in clients asking for help because they found themselves trying to get back on the wagon.”
Anderson says the Center’s Mental Health Services receives many referrals year-round for clients who need to go through detoxification before they begin the Center’s Intensive Outpatient Program. For many years, the Center has sent clients to an LGBT-friendly residential treatment center in the San Fernando Valley. However, many clients have bemoaned the treatment center’s long distance from the LGBT meccas of West Hollywood and Hollywood.
Their concerns are about to become a Spirit of Christmas Past because there’s a new treatment center in their backyards.
Located in the Melrose-Fairfax neighborhood, Revive Recovery and Detox Services is providing up to six beds per year to be used exclusively by the Center’s clients. Additionally, Revive—considered a preferred treatment center by the Dr. Phil show—will fully pay for clients’ recovery services which are not covered by their PPO health insurance for up to 30 days. The scholarship is made possible by the newly-established Ian Stulberg Living Legacy Fund named after the Center’s former Director of Mental Health Services.
“I wanted to recognize the man who guided me early on with my career and helped me become my best self,” said Revive founder Dr. Ronaye Calvert.
Nearly a decade prior to opening her treatment center, Calvert was selected by Stulberg to serve as an intern for the Center’s Mental Health Services. One of her first duties was to handle the ‘crisis hour’—a term to describe the emergency situation of a client—which often occurred after a client learned from one of the Center’s medical providers that they tested positive for HIV. The Center’s protocol during the crisis hour was—and is still enforced today—to ensure the client was given immediate access to vital resources, such as a face-to-face consultation with an MHS staff member followed by a visit to the Center’s first-floor pharmacy at the McDonald/Wright Building to pick up a 30-day supply of antiretroviral drugs.
“They were young, scared men who just learned that they had seroconverted, and I would try to hold it together when talking with them. After they left my office, I would begin to cry,” she lamented. “As someone just starting out in my career, I was afraid of what Ian and my colleagues might think if they saw me crying, but Ian assured me that not only was it okay, but that it was positive. He told me he’d be more worried about me if I didn’t cry sometimes while doing this work.”
Stulberg, who was the Center’s manager of clinical training at the time, was responsible for hiring interns, like Calvert, for the 12-month clinical rotations.
“Our intern program was the Center’s gem,” said Stulberg, who began his tenure at the Center in 1999. “We were increasingly receiving applications from those who identified as heterosexual and had no significant connections with the LGBT community yet they applied because of our esteemed reputation as a clinical training site. Ronaye was one of those applicants, and I remember her enthusiasm and motivation to learn.”
Nearly 15 years would pass until Stulberg would hear from Calvert again.
“Oh, my goodness. I was taken aback when she told me about the scholarship she wanted to name after me,” said Stulberg, who is now retired. “I didn’t realize how much of an impact I made on her life.”
“Ian is one of the most compassionate people I know,” Calvert told LGBT News Now. “His work was important, but he—as a person—is just as important. With this scholarship, I want to honor the man behind the work.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Revive’s six beds will be divided among three bedrooms, with each of the beds socially distanced at least six feet apart. Temperature checks and COVID tests will be conducted each time a new resident moves in, and face masks will be enforced. According to Calvert, her treatment center has a minimum staff-to-client ratio of 3:1, an indication of the personalized treatment which Center clients can expect to receive.
“The Center taught me the importance of a community which comes together in the face of adversity. During my time there, I realized LGBT people face oppression and marginalization every day and, yet, they remain resilient,” said Calvert. “With Revive’s help, I hope LGBT people in recovery are reminded that their lives are valued.”
For more information about the Center’s Addiction Recovery Services, ranging from 12-Step group meetings to individual therapy, visit lalgbtcenter.org/recovery or call 323-993-7500.
For more information about Revive Recovery and Detox Services, visit revivedetoxlosangeles.com