Challenges and barriers I face to creating change are predominately attitudinal, from the community and the population of women that I am trying to help. From a community standpoint addiction remains a moral failing rather than a public health or social justice issue. Because of this women are blamed for their conditions, stigma is widespread and public resources are minimal. Additionally, many women are not willing to seek support because they fear the consequences of speaking out regarding their addiction and family situations, especially if it involves children. Another challenge is financial resources to support the costs of providing life skills and employment training, as well as housing, and supports for the children.

I use grant writing and fundraising activities to support the financial challenges. Through my foundation, SpiritWorks Foundation,, I developed two social enterprises, the SpiritWorks Press and the Wellness/Recovery Compass life management systems. These enterprises bring revenue for SpiritWorks, put a positive face on recovery, and provide life skills and workforce development opportunities. SpiritWorks is in the early stages of establishing additional social enterprises that further address the barriers and challenges described above. The social enterprises being considered allow SpiritWorks to specifically train women to work and give them practice in a safe setting to do so. They allow SpiritWorks to generate additional revenue to support the financial costs of operating the program. And, as SpiritWorks increases the number of social enterprises offered, it enhances the positive face of recovery. Additional social enterprises allow the community to see the productivity of more women and serve as a way to build self-esteem for the women, as they are doing something positive for themselves and their community. Once dependent, users and takers, these women now have something to offer. I learned that the number one intervention for addiction and mental illness is work. By teaching the women to work, supporting their efforts to do so, making sure they have safe and adequate housing and providing support for their children I remove the barriers and erase the challenges.

Currently I use the SpiritWorks Website, which includes my blog and information regarding our programs and services. SpiritWorks has an active Facebook page and Twitter account. I belong to a non-profit social enterprise list serve on which I ask questions, share comments and get ideas from others who are building sustainable social enterprises. I also subscribe to giving and philanthropic online communities that allow me to keep up with funding opportunities. The possibility to use World Pulse and other online communities to exchange ideas from women and men working around the globe bringing about social change is expansive. I will use my blog, the SpiritWorks Website, Facebook, Twitter, and my PulseWire journal regularly to share victories and success stories of the women we serve.

Access to technology means I can change the world. My use of online communities insures that change, And, my participation in Voices of the Future 2011 demonstrates that change. Thank you WorldPulse!

Peace, Jan

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Challenges and Solutions to Creating Change.

Comment on this Post


Your writing and vision are both so clear! Also, your utilization of resources is quite impressive. The work you do is so valuable, as our society does not always support those with addiction and in turn does not acknowledge the destruction this addiction brings to those around the person dealing with addiction. It seems you really put your heart and spirit into your work.

Thank you for sharing your story and experience! Megan

Jan, thank you for this very articulate and wise article. You are bringing a crystal clear vision to critically needed work. I feel sure that any one of the women you work with would feel encouraged and affirmed by reading what you have written here. You are a wonderful and empathetic advocate. I'm impressed by your comprehensive approach; counseling, advocacy, utilizing web 2.0, and reaching out to the whole world. Wow!