Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Stephen (center) poses with his sister and Victory Programs' President and CEO Jonathan Scott


In 1993, Stephen Thomas was newly sober after several years of battling his addiction to cocaine, heroin and other substances, estranged from his family and staying in the Shattuck Shelter with few options for services to help him take the next step in his recovery and stabilize his life. In his heart, he knew there was one place he could turn for help. Even then, Victory House had a reputation for opening its doors to even the most complicated cases, including those who had self-detoxed, like Stephen, or those with a dual diagnosis of substance addiction and HIV/AIDS. And for Stephen, that was the sticking point; as a closeted, young, gay man he wasn’t sure he wanted to seek recovery services at a program so strongly associated with the LGBTQ community during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Ultimately, however, there was nowhere else to go. He reluctantly picked up the phone, went through intake, and was lucky enough to be granted a bed that same day.

For active users seeking treatment for substance use disorder, low-threshold access to treatment at the time they make the decision to work on recovery is critical. 25 years later, Stephen says that getting a bed at Victory House when he needed it most made all the difference for him. “I am grateful for the gifts of recovery. Most of all I am grateful to have become someone other people can rely on,” says Stephen, who is now a top decision maker at a bi-coastal firm with more than 400 employees.

Stephen and his late husband met in recovery at Victory House 25 years ago. They had discussed sharing the bounty they had found in their recovery by making a significant gift of $25,000 back to the program prior to his husband’s unexpected passing last year and for Stephen, making the gift now serves as an important way of honoring the love of his life. “We were both so grateful for the support and community we found here,” Stephen shared during a speech to a full house in the crowded common room at Victory House included current clients; program staff; two of Stephen’s siblings, one of whom worked at the program under Victory Programs’ President and CEO Jonathan Scott; also in attendance; both of his husband’s brothers and several close family friends.

Stephen’s visit had a profound impact on all of those who heard him speak, including those currently living at the program, who have asked staff to consider renaming the common room in his honor.

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2018 Red Sox Raffle

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Win the chance of a lifetime to throw out the first pitch on PRIDE night at Fenway Park on Thursday, June 7 with our exclusive raffle! Prize includes four tickets to see the Red Sox face-off against the Detroit Tigers from the State Street Pavilion at Fenway Park, four Red Sox PRIDE hats and flags, dinner for four at Boston Chops and one unforgettable moment. Raffle tickets are $100 each and limited to 200 sold, one winner will be selected on May, 2 at the Boston Pride Committee Meetup, proceeds benefit Victory Programs and the Boston Pride Committee.

Posted in Boston Living Center - What's New, Revision Urban Farm - What's New, Victory Programs - What's New | Leave a comment

Guest Blog: Why Stress?

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

By Charissa L. Zapata, Assistant Grower at ReVision Urban Farm

In this high paced world we live in, trying to juggle everything that comes our way, we are constantly reminded that somewhere in our schedule, our time, we need to be mindful of our health. Everything from the latest superfood, smoothie madness, to the latest diet, we try to incorporate all the things that will bring health into our lives.

What’s the fastest most convenient way to turn my health around? What can help you lose the most weight, blood pressure, and other health risks may be at the top of those health concerns. On the other end, you might feel like you have tried it all, you’ve got down a rhythm and your good to go, or you’ve tried it all and nothing has stuck in your attempt to navigate this rather vague and confusing world of information and results.

In all of this health talk, have we considered the importance of rest, and reducing stress in our lives? Did you know that studies have shown the significant impact that stress has on the human body and its repercussion causes most of our health concerns?

When our body is in the state of stress, you are telling your body that you are in survival mode. It activates your flight or fight response. In this state your body can shut down or “…suppress immune, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems, which may cause them to stop working normally.”

When we are in constant state of stress from day to day living, and you’re constantly shutting or suppressing your body from healing, this can have some serious consequences in the long run. Stressing while you’re driving to work, bills, work, can really add up a big chunk of your time. It is critical for us to understand its source and how to deal with it.

Understanding our triggers and how to make time to de-stress and combat it at its source, is critical to our health. It is probably one of the primary health conscious efforts we should all make, to manage stress in healthy and sustainable ways.

So here are some quick tips you can start doing now to managing your stress that I pulled from the NIMH Site:

  1. Recognize the Signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy.
  2. Get Regular Exercise. Just 30 minutes per day of walking can help boost your mood and reduce stress.
  3. Try a Relaxing Activity. Explore stress coping programs, which may incorporate meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other gentle exercises. For some stress-related conditions, these approaches are used in addition to other forms of treatment. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy and relaxing activities. Learn more about these techniques on the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) website at (
  4. Set Goals and Priorities. Decide what must get done and what can wait, and learn to say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload. Note what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
  5. Stay Connected with people who can provide emotional and other support. To reduce stress, ask for help from friends, family, and community or religious organizations.
  6. Talk to a professional if serious health concerns persist.
  7. And last but not least Breathe. Mindfully closing your eyes; even if it’s just for 2 minutes, and taking deeper and slower breaths, has shown over and over again in stress trials that it can instantly drop your heart rate and stress levels significantly.

So remember, the next time you’re driving, dealing with your kids, or at work in a stressful situation, every moment of stress is harmful for us and we need to actively seek time and have our intention set on reducing stress in as many ways as possible.

But if all of this seems like too much to think about and thought of incorporating one more thing seems stressful enough, remember to just Breathe! It’s free, it’s a gift, and if directed with intention can change your life in the simplest most profound ways!

For More information on stress and its effects check out:

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Severe Weather Expected 3/13/2018

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Due to the expected severe weather, both the Boston Living Center and Victory Programs Admin offices will be closed on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Please stay safe and warm!

Posted in Boston Living Center - What's New, Victory Programs - What's New | Leave a comment

Purpose Through Participation and Leadership – Rob’s Story

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Back in 1993, Boston Living Center member and 2017 Brenda Bellizeare “BIG” Better It Gets Award winner Rob was living in New York City and working in pediatrics, providing support for children who had been diagnosed with HIV.

“I was a runner. I noticed I was fatiguing early.” His doctor advised him to get tested for HIV. Although Rob had tested negative five months earlier, he wasn’t terribly surprised when the test came back positive. “I knew there were times that I was engaged in high risk behavior,” he explains.

Rob spent the next few years struggling with his diagnosis and the substance use he turned to as a coping mechanism. Eventually, he was successful in stabilizing his life and committing to recovery, however, his illnesses had taken their toll on his heart. He knew he’d have better options in Boston, however, now virally suppressed he needed to transfer his care team, find housing, and build a new support network without relapsing.

Rob found the resources and support he needed at the Boston Living Center. “As soon as I walked in the door I felt this warm welcome,” he shares. “I felt an immediate connection. Most importantly, I felt safe.” The staff at the Center helped Rob find the resources he needed to successfully secure affordable and stable housing, transfer his healthcare team and connect with peer support. “Coming to the Center for meals was also a great opportunity to network,” says Rob.

Over the years Rob has taken on a leadership role at the Center as a volunteer, founding the “Working POZ” peer support group and helping with the BLC Soup blog. “I like to give back to the groups and individuals that helped me,” he says. “It was really the BLC that empowered me to move from Western Mass to Boston without jeopardizing my health or sobriety. I love that BLC will recognize a need in the community and step up to do something about it.”

In 2017, Rob’s peers at the BLC nominated him for the Brenda Bellizeare “BIG” Better it Gets Award in recognition of his progress from where he started and anticipation of what he will do going forward. “When I found out I was getting the award I was blown away,” he says. “When you are recognized by your peers, not only for where you’ve been, but where you are going, there is no greater reward. It’s nice to have that feeling of having meaning and purpose in my life again.”

Please click here to learn more about the  Boston Living Center.

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