New Facility Beams a Beacon of Hope for the Addicted in DC

In December 2016, we brought you the story of Washington D.C.’s Community Action Group, a local addiction recovery ministry that has been serving those suffering from substance abuse in our nation’s capital for nearly 20 years.

At that time, CAG – as it is known in the District – was eagerly anticipating the opening of its new outpatient facility and community center at the corner of 15th Street and Independence Avenue in Southeast D.C.

On a sunny morning this past Friday, the group’s goal was realized in a fanfare of joy and gratitude from the local community as government leaders cut the ribbon on the dazzling new facility, which stands as a beacon of hope and perseverance for the residents of East Capitol Hill.

The phrase “nevertheless, she persisted” gained nationwide popularity after Sen. Elizabeth Warren was lionized for running afoul of Senate rules a few months ago, but it’s probably better applied to Janice Desasso Gordon, CAG president and co-founder – who oversaw the long-awaited completion of the project. For, without her persistence and that of others, Friday’s celebration simply would not have happened.

As noted in our earlier profile, the remodeling project has been completed through many obstacles, including the death of founder Harold “Hal” Gordon – the namesake of the new facility – and was held up by a seemingly never-ending mix of bureaucratic wrangling, funding measures, and a wall collapse that threatened to stop the project dead in its tracks. Now, CAG’s headquarters are back in their historic location on Capitol Hill.

In her ceremonial remarks, Gordon was gracious to what she called a team of “angels” who “surrounded” her and helped finish the project when it was at its most difficult point.

“What we had was the support that was so solid,” she told those in attendance at the ribbon cutting, “that there was no way that we would not persevere.”

The new two-story facility features a spacious auditorium with a stage and industrial kitchen to support the many different programs and approaches that CAG uses in its innovative, client-driven approach to combatting addiction. The auditorium will be used for the group’s weekly fellowship meetings and by its multiple artistic groups, like the CAG choir, who performed at the event. There is also a conference room for group therapy and a library.

Shanta Belton Carter, president of the CAG alumni association – a group of recovering addicts and alcoholics who have gone through the program and have organized to assist each other – says that she is so “grateful … honored, and blessed, to just be a part of today’s grand opening.” She also expressed hopes that the building will serve as a reminder that there is always help waiting for those who are still suffering.

“I pray,” she told me, “that this building right here will reach out to the community … that it’s a place where they can come and get help and not feel like they’re ostracized from society … where they can get some sort of hope.”

The event is an emotional one for Carter, who has been clean and sober for over a decade thanks to CAG.

“I am honored and touched just to be a part of it,” she concluded, “because CAG is home to us … Just to be back home, I can’t even describe what I’m feeling right now.”

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