In December 2022, The GateHouse celebrated its 50th year of offering people a meaningful path to recovery. As part of this celebration, we are spotlighting prominent staff, leaders, and alumni and sharing the stories of their time at The GateHouse.
Surrounded by a wonderful community and filled with a passion for the arts, David Morgan leads a rich life in recovery.
He said he’s always had an interest in classical music and discovered that both the opera and the ballet stir great emotions in him.
“The first time I went to the opera, I ended up crying,” David said.
The GateHouse is partly responsible for those tears. It was actually a connection he made here that led David to discover his interest in the performing arts. In fact, he and his wife have remained on good terms with that connection—Vicky Parker, his former counselor at The GateHouse—and her husband. They still make regular outings to The Met.
David’s appreciation for the performing arts and the sense of artistic fulfillment he gleaned from it wasn’t built overnight, however. He says members of the recovery community, which included people like Vicky, were his saving grace. When he first came to The GateHouse, he was in desperate need of such a community.
“I was beaten down,” David said. “I came close to death a couple times.”
David Morgan Needed Something Different
David arrived at The GateHouse after his fifth rehab.
His counselor told him about Bruce Caldwell, who at the time was the director of The GateHouse, and suggested he try the program.
“I got drunk every time I went home again, so my counselor thought I should try something different”, David said. “I would do whatever I was told to do.”
Because David had to pay out of pocket to participate in The GateHouse program, he found he had a real stake in the outcome. He knew he had a lot to work on and recognized his need for a community that would hold him accountable and help him meet the high expectations he had set for himself.
“It was really great being in a group with twenty other guys,” David said. “They didn’t tolerate my ego.”
Vicky and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Changed David’s Mindset
A key to making these changes was getting “locked in” to Alcoholics Anonymous.
“The GateHouse really taught me the importance of AA”, David said.
The fellowship he experienced in AA offered him the structure, tools, and community he needed to forge a new path forward.
David also began doing a lot of service work, serving as both the General Service Representative (GSR.) and an Inter-Group delegate for his home group.
“It was a great restart for me”, he said.
Between AA and the work he did with his counselor Vicky, David began to gain new insight into the nature of his substance use disorder and the path forward for his recovery journey. At the time, David and his wife were separated, and he frequently expressed to Vicky how he needed to repair the relationship.
“Vicky helped me understand that I wasn’t necessarily powerful enough to just ‘fix things,’” David said. “I really had to go within and work on myself.”
A Renewed Love of Life
After three years of separation, David and his wife got back together – a testament to the progress he made in AA.
After leaving The GateHouse, David worked as a roofer in Lancaster, staying with the company for quite a while and finding community in unexpected places—like his superintendent, who was on his own recovery journey. This shared experience allowed David to be open and honest with his employer, which made his first job after The GateHouse a very positive experience.
“My whole life now revolves around AA,” David said with a grin. “All my friends, people I go out with, people I do things with, they’re all in AA. And it’s a great life.”
To this day, he continues his work with the AA community and finds great meaning in acting as a sponsor for other members.
“Getting sober is the best thing that ever happened to me”, David said.
When asked what he found to be the most rewarding part of his journey to recovery, David said it was finding a “sense of willingness”.
“In your head you think you do everything yourself, but you can’t figure it out no matter how smart you are,” he said. “You have to be willing to listen and change.”
The GateHouse is Central Pennsylvania’s leader in accredited addiction recovery care, recognizing the unique challenges individuals face on their journey to recovery. For 50 years, we have helped individuals in our community restore their lives and rediscover the strength of the human spirit.
We provide each client with a support system that helps them break the cycle of substance abuse disorder and put them on the path to recovery. The GateHouse is here for you, whether you need outpatient support, transitional living conditions, or resident treatment programs. Reach out to us today!