Sometimes we choose our destiny and sometimes our destiny chooses us. Maybe destiny plays a little bit of both roles in Maureen Donadio’s life. As the Founder of Cornerstone Recovery Center, Maureen’s life revolves around saving other people – but at one point in her life, it was Maureen who needed saving.
Growing up in AA
Maureen has fond memories of growing up in New York with, as she calls them, “great parents.” She even remembers attending her dad’s AA anniversary celebrations. Even though she grew up with Alcoholics Anonymous in the background, she still ended up on drugs. Her parents did everything they could to help her. She traveled down to Florida where she got into some trouble and got sent to jail. Even though it seemed like a harsh punishment at the time, Maureen is grateful. “The judge really cared about me,” she muses. “He kind of saved my life.”
Maureen had the opportunity to attend AA meetings while in jail. She thought AA was her dad’s thing, and that she wasn’t an alcoholic even though she drank and did drugs. But she remembered from her dad’s meetings that they had coffee and cake and cigarettes, so she talked the girls in her cell into going. “There were seven of us in the cell,” she remembers. “But they don’t serve coffee and cake in jail, so we left.” Luckily, there was a woman who took the time to come to the jail and bring the message from AA to them.
This same woman, named Joey M., started the first Narcotics Anonymous (NA) program in Broward County in 1978. When Maureen got out of jail, she started going to the NA and AA meetings and really got involved. Even though she relapsed briefly, she got herself back into the program and had 3 months of sobriety when she got pregnant. “If Joey hadn’t come to the jail – if she didn’t do that – I wouldn’t be here today,” according to Maureen. When she got out of jail, two important women came into her life – her sponsor, Gina S. and Rosie N., the director of Stepping Stones, the first sober living facility in Broward County. Rosie ended up being her mentor and partner.
Life Comes Full Circle
Later, when Maureen wanted to start her own halfway house, she wouldn’t do it without Rosie and they opened their first one together. Over 14 years, the halfway house turned into 14 houses. Maureen would represent some of her clients in court along with a man named Richard Entriken. They would help people who didn’t have serious charges, but were there because of drugs or alcohol – Maureen would help the women, and Richard would help the men. The judge who had sentenced her years before heard about the work she was doing and called her into his courthouse. “We became very good friends until the day he died,” says Maureen.
Eventually, a large treatment center asked Maureen to open a halfway house in a nicer neighborhood. Until that time, most sober houses were located in the poorer areas. The treatment center started sending hundreds of clients to the halfway house, but Maureen noticed a lot of them were relapsing and not getting the help they needed in treatment. This made her think of her parents and what she put them through, which she regretted. She thought of these peoples’ families and dreamt about opening a small, personalized treatment center.
Small Beginnings for Cornerstone Recovery Center
She ultimately found a partner in Diane Hickey. Diane was already a partner in another treatment center, but she felt it had grown too big, so she sold out to her partners and got together with Maureen. Others in the industry heard about what these ladies were doing and lined up to work with them. They wanted to be in a treatment center where people could get the help they needed, as opposed to some of the bigger facilities. Maureen acknowledges that the pay may not be as good, but the staff feels good about working there and being able to really help people.
“When I came home from my NA meetings, a group of us would hang out on the beach on Saturdays and Sundays and take care of each other,” remembers Maureen. “We called it Serenity Beach. My home for the clients is right down the street and we take them there. It’s like a safe haven.” It’s no surprise that Cornerstone is family-oriented and hosts Family Night meetings every 2 weeks. “We want the families involved,” Maureen says.
Of her own family, she speaks with pride of her son and adopted daughter, whose mother was also an addict. Maureen is well-known and respected in South Florida’s recovery community. She recently received the Lifetime Achievement award at Broward National Recovery Month’s annual event. When she talks about Cornerstone, it is with nothing but love. As Maureen puts it, “This was my dream and it came true.”
Cornerstone’s Experience with Recovery Comes from Its Roots
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction or relapse, Cornerstone Recovery Center in Ft. Lauderdale can help offer treatment in a family-like atmosphere. The caring counselors and addiction treatment specialists are on hand to help you through recovery. To find out more about Cornerstone’s rehab and recovery program in Fort Lauderdale, call 888-711-0354 or fill out an online contact form to speak confidentially with an admissions counselor today.