Toni's House is a 501(c)(3) organization that has been serving the Las Vegas community since 2010.
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The Story of Cliff Butcher

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From the Director Monique Gordon Ellis: Cliff Butcher Is proud of his Native American roots. Born on a reservation in South Dakota, he was adopted at the early age of 5 years old and moved to Northern California with his new family. Cliff became addicted to drugs during his teen years.

Like most addicts, Cliff made a lot of mistakes and bad decisions while in his addiction. He is proud of the fact that he's been sober since November 1, 2012 and he's done it with little support outside of his Toni's House family. The only professional treatment Cliff received was a 3 day stay in the Westcare Detox program. It's been amazing to watch this young man work his recovery. Beating a 5-year heroin addiction is a major accomplishment.

He understands there is always the risk of relapsing but is confident his future will be living life drug free. Cliff is one of the most loyal residents we've had come through Toni's House. When times got tough, and I started to doubt what I was doing, I would remember all the obstacles this young man had to overcome. His accomplishments gave me the strength to keep the doors open.

In Cliff Words: In December of 2010, I heard a man speak at the Westcare Detox facility located in downtown Las Vegas. I approached him afterwards, asking where I could go to work on staying sober. He called the director of Toni's House on my behalf, and before I could change my mind I was given a phone number and told there was a bed available and waiting for me.

I called the Director, Monique Gordon-Ellis, and before I could blink I was being picked up near Detox from a woman I'd only talked to over the telephone. I was scared of the unknown, but I was also equally excited of what my new life could be without drugs. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was determined to use this opportunity to move forward and not look back.

When I first moved to Toni's House, I had trust issues, was paranoid and refused to give anyone eye contact. I'm proud I have worked through my insecurities and I'm much more comfortable in my new surroundings and lifestyle. I have transitioned from my mother paying my rent to being employed, paying my own bills and attending college. I'm now living life with a plan. I'm working towards becoming a licensed plumber.

Ms. Gordon-Ellis is always reminding me I'm a living advertisement for the Toni's House mission statement. She said seeing how far I've grown is a testament to what sober living is designed to accomplish. As a senior resident, I advise some of the new residents, assist in overseeing the Men's House, chair our Wednesday night speaker meeting and help with improvement projects at both properties.

If someone told me two years ago I would be where I am today, I would have thought they were on drugs or didn't know what they were talking about. In the program, we're told to take one day at a time. This is what I've done, and I'm a witness. It works.

What I'm most proud about for the first time in my life I have a plan. I have short term and long term goals. I understand my weaknesses but I'm willing to work to overcome them. I look forward to celebrating multiple years of sobriety and to one day having a family and help supporting my mother and siblings.

I went from being lost and not caring about others to being excited about my future and being a caring, supportive son, brother, partner and friend. I'm loving life and look forward to the future.

The Story of Sandy Dillman

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From the Director Monique Gordon-Ellis: When Sandy moved to Toni's House, she was struggling with grief from losing her husband. I was concerned about her will to live. She was married to the same man for over 20 years, and it was obvious she missed him. I was fearful she wouldn't fight, because she didn't have a purpose for living. It's been exciting to watch Sandy smile and get excited to start a 12 step book study, volunteering her time serving the homeless and being a support system to the younger girls. We call Sandy "Momma", and momma is what she's been to many of the girls. Sandy makes our house a home, like Cliff Butcher, she's our Women's House bedrock.

In Sandy's Words: My name is Sandy Dillman and I'm a recovering addict of narcotics and painkillers. Unlike many of my housemates, I didn't have the luxury of going through an intensive treatment program. I'm an alumni of Westcare Dextox, which is a short term 3 day detoxing process. I struggled when I lost the love of my life. My husband was the only family I had. I watched him slowly die of cancer, and when he finally succumbed to his disease, a part of me died with him. I don't have words for the pain I felt losing my soul mate. Part of me wanted to give up, I felt I had nothing to live for.

I had some hard knocks after my husband's death. Even though I receive a retirement check, I ended up living in a rundown sober living home. The conditions were deplorable, which helped spiral me into a deeper depression. I bounced around to a few other places until my very good friend LaShonda Bussie rescued me on July 5, 2011. She said she had a new place for me to live. I was worried, because I was out of money. LaShonda told me not to worry and assured me I was going to be okay. It was her calmness and assurance that gave me a sense of security.

She drove me to a house she was the manager of at the time; Toni's House. As soon as I walked through the door I knew I was finally home. I say this because the home I shared with my husband before he died we lost in a fire along with our automobiles and all our personal belongings. I lost a big part of my life in that fire. A couple months later I lost my other half. My husband died of colon cancer on June10th 2010. It was the death of my husband that forced me to decide what I was going to do with the rest of my life. This wasn't an easy decision to make especially since I was still using and I was struggling to get over the grief and being a widow and hard of hearing.

With all the obstacles I had to deal with, I've been able to overcome all my struggles by praying to my God as I understand him. I do a daily meditation and a prayer asking my God to maintain my sobriety and to change my life of old habits, old thinking patterns that were acquired by my active addiction. Because of Monique (Director of Toni's House) offering me a home I'm forever grateful to Toni's House. My new home has provided me with having friends and a family. I have a lot of friends within the recovery circles. They help support and guide me through working the 12 steps of recovery. I feel my husband is watching over me like an Angel.

When I first moved to Toni's House I struggled to make it because of the grief. I didn't know how to be comfortable with Sandy at 60 and how to get comfortable with myself and to overcome coping without any drugs to help kill the pain. Today I might add I'm in a good place and I'm learning to love myself and others. I feel I'm in a position to share my situation at Toni's House. I want to share my experiences and strengths in hopes that sharing my story may help others find a new life in recovery and like me get saved from drugs and alcohol.

Today I'm enjoying knitting and writing about my struggles and what I've been through. I'm trying to get some of my writings published. I crochet a blanket for all the girls in the house when they reach their 1 year sober birthday. Today I'm living one day at a time and loving it. Please visit the Toni's House Blog to read some of my stories. My most current is "Relief from Grief". I love my new home and more importantly, I love helping save others from the jail of addiction.

Sincerely,

Sandy Dillman

The Story of LaShonda N. Bussie

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LaShonda Bussie graduated from Clark County Drug Court program the evening of Wednesday October 26th and a few weeks prior she graduated from the Las Vegas Westcare Healthy Families program. Both are major accomplishments. Toni's House is proud to have a graduate of these programs on staff.

LaShonda's Testimonial: I was born and raised in Chicago, IL where gang violence was a part of everyday life, but thanks to my family, I managed to escape it. I come from a family of ministers, evangelists, authors, postal workers, cooks, railroad workers and such. My parents were decent hardworking people and they instilled morals, values and a strong work ethic in me. Sister Maryann and her yardstick helped too!

Unfortunately, my mother died at a very young age and this altered the course of my life. My family dynamics changed, and life as I dreamed it was not to become my reality …

I was always an excellent student and achieved great academic heights as I became the Battalion Commander of my high school J.R.O.T.C., and I was awarded two full scholarships. Even still I have yet to earn a degree. I had my first son the winter after I graduated high school, and this propelled me into the workforce and kept me there for many years as I went on to have four more children. My work ethic carried me as far as the Director of Operations for a growing business before drugs and alcohol consumed me.

Addiction has afflicted my family for three generations, and I am here to break that cycle! Have I always made the best choices ~ No, but I am truly grateful for every heartbreak, because it has given me purpose and allowed me to open my heart to help others not make the same mistakes or endure the same struggles alone. I have been blessed with the opportunity to do just that and not just for my family but for many others as well.

I believe that there is a population of people who want to live a better life and just don't know where to start. I have experienced the frustrations in reaching out for help and having no one there to grab my hand. It has become my mission to prevent others from feeling that same sense of hopelessness and helplessness. I want to help those who want to help themselves.

Toni's House is a loving, supportive environment, a strong foundation for people to begin the process of rebuilding their lives from the inside out. Every story can have a happy ending, if we choose to create one. I am proud to say that today I am a full time student, the director of a mentoring program, and I get to help other people like me.
Update 25 / May / 2012: LaTonya Logan has moved in with her son and daughter-in-law and is helping take care for her grandchildren.

"Willingness is all it takes to make a new start." ~ LaShonda N. Bussie

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Click here, for more success stories from other Toni's House residents.

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