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South Valley Journal

Riverton outpatient facility graduates four individuals to life-long recovery

Jul 01, 2022 09:43AM ● By Dylan Wilcox

By Dylan Wilcox | [email protected]

In 2010 Dr. Joseph White started the Foundation for Family Life, an outpatient treatment facility in Riverton for individuals suffering from things ranging all the way from substance and alcohol addiction to issues experienced in marriage and family relationships. Since its founding 12 years ago, the Foundation has provided support and life coaching for dozens of individuals and their families. On May 27, four individuals graduated from the 6-month program.

Will Toon, Josh Anderson, Sateki Lao and Joseph Villalobos each were presented a plaque indicating their completion of the Foundation’s Redwood Recovery program, which aims to help participants to set a life of complete and total sobriety. White acknowledged that this program is not for everyone, but he attested to the effectiveness of it.

“The Foundation for Family Life has developed two programs specifically for those with substance abuse challenges transitioning from incarceration.  These programs are designed to equip those who want to change with the tools and resources necessary to make sustainable, lasting change.  We never push; we only invite.  In fact, clients often come back if they aren’t ready the first time around,” White said. White says that their approach is individual-focused, meaning that they will work on helping each person with their own unique struggles and circumstances. “The overarching goal from the creation of these programs has been to provide the most effective tools, resources and environments in which successful recovery can happen,” he added.

The Foundation’s purpose, as written in its framework, is “to help families and individuals learn, practice, and commit to health communication, effective parenting, enriched relationship skills and lasting recovery.” And its mission is “to empower individuals and families to improve their lives through quality programs and services." 

Will Toon, one of the program’s graduates, said he is grateful for being able to complete the program. Toon experienced bouts with addiction and run-ins with law enforcement which created an untenable life for both himself and his family. After living in New Hampshire, he decided to relocate to Utah to get away from the rebellious lifestyle he decided to leave behind.

“I never thought I would complete this program, I never thought I would be sober,” Toon said. “I was able to turn it all around through this program. I was able to find a job, put time in a company, and stop drinking. I recommend this program to people who are serious about recovering,” he added.

Jennifer Toon, Will’s mother, said it was very difficult to deal with Will’s struggle with alcoholism and encounters with police. She said she didn’t play a specific role in Will’s recovery but knew that she had to continue to support him through his journey, no matter how difficult that journey would be.

“I had to set my boundaries, but luckily all the growth has been for the positive,” she said. The Toons unfortunately lost a daughter to addiction but believe that this program helped to save their son. “Will lost a sister who died when she was 25. We all have those addictive behaviors that we have suffered from, but I am so proud of Will, and I hope he’ll continue to stick to [his recovery],” Jennifer Toon said.

Will’s older sister, Aubrey, was deeply moved when Will got up to speak in front of the room packed with people about his recovery. “I am just really proud of you, Will,” Aubrey said. “It was a lot of stress on our family for a lot of years. You came out determined to be different and to change and you really, really have,” she added. Aubrey’s relationship with Will has changed for the positive, even saying their ability to communicate together has improved.

Will’s father, Bill Toon, echoed his family’s sentiments about Will’s recovery. Bill said it was very difficult to deal with the challenges their family experienced, having experienced a couple family members passing away, namely Bill’s father and his daughter. The struggles that Will had compounded to an even more difficult time period for their family.

“Those were unbearable years, Will was in and out of jail, in and out of lawyers,” Bill said. “I lost my father, I lost my daughter, and Will was in and out of prison. It gets to a point where you say, ‘You can’t do it all, you’ve got to do this on your own.’ This is the first time that I’ve heard Will have self-reflection that this is his issue, not everybody else’s. I’m very proud of him that he’s taken ownership,” Bill added.

Alec Beaulieu, Will’s friend and mentor, flew out from Portland, Maine to celebrate Will’s sobriety milestone with him in person. Alec and Will lived together as roommates in New Hampshire. “The Will today is totally different from the Will I knew six years ago,” Beaulieu said. “Back in the day, Will would fall apart at the drop of a hat. He would be very angry, but today he’s much calmer and more rational,” he said. Beaulieu said their friendship was rocky because of Will’s argumentative attitude. “Will is calmer, he’s a calm person now. We used to argue a lot back in the day, but now it’s different,” Beaulieu said. Bill joked that their friendship sounds like “a working marriage” now.

Josh Anderson began his program in August 2021 and nearly 8 months later, he successfully completed the program. Anderson learned about the Foundation’s program through a probation officer. He said this program was different, having been through a couple other addiction interventions in the past.

“I’ve been through four or five different programs I just couldn’t graduate,” Anderson said. He said that the other programs were difficult to get past after 60 days from a combination of the strictness of the plan and his own decisions. After deliberating his options with his probation officer, the officer suggested Anderson undergo the Foundation for Family Life’s program.

“[The Foundation] is willing to work with you. Other programs have a two-strike rule. This program will work with you. If you relapse, they’ll work with you. They’ll take you to an inpatient detox as long as you want to do it. That’s the biggest difference I would say,” Anderson added. He said that White’s team was “very supportive” of everyone in the program. He cited the team’s welcoming camaraderie and understanding point of view, given that some members of the Foundation’s team have experienced being in prison.

Ray Flitton, a current participant in the Foundation’s program, says the program has been a positive experience thus far. Flitton has been in the process for two months, even becoming a House Lead to “keep an eye on things, make sure there’s no problems” at the facility.

“This has been a blessing,” Flitton said. “They do focus on the subject of families. And as men, we sometime lose our way, but [the program] gives us the tools to lead a healthy and fulfilling life again,” he said. Flitton said this program has helped him immensely, based on his experience with two other programs before. He cites the Foundation’s mentorship and ability to help participants without being overbearing in the process. Flitton dealt with homelessness as a result of his alcoholism, but finding his way back through the program has been a lifesaver for him and his family.

Flitton, a diesel mechanic who worked on heavy machinery, said his wife and kids have been supportive throughout his time with the Foundation. He has viewed the program as a new lease on life and is strongly considering becoming a mentor to help others in a similar situation as he was in. “I just really admire what they’re doing and we need more people to do this, the need is there,” he said.

For more information about the Foundation’s work, visit https://rr.fflut.org/