How to commemorate a special relationship at the Dewey Center

It started five years ago for Will Merry. He needed surgery for a hernia. Only a year and a half later, Will was diagnosed with cancer that required two major surgeries in 30 days. In each case, opioids were prescribed for pain. So soon after his hernia surgery, this pain management regimen turned into what he called “unmanageable abuse.” 

Like so many people who are prescribed opioids for pain, Will fell down the slippery slope of dependence and addiction. So in August 2017, Will joined the Dewey Center’s addiction recovery programs to keep from falling farther.

His rock

When Will first came to the Dewey Center, he joined its partial hospitalization program, or PHP. It’s a short-term treatment option that helps reduce or stabilize symptoms while still living at home. He spent four weeks in the program, and it was there that Will met Holly, his PHP therapist.

When a patient would graduate to the intensive outpatient program [IOP], Holly would give them a rock to remember their time with her group. “Calling her ‘Rock Lady’ was a fun nickname I gave her,” Will recalled.

To thank Holly for the impact she had on him, he purchased a brick in the new Dewey Center Serenity Garden, commemorating that special bond.

The bridge

The Dewey Center’s intensive outpatient program helps patients learn to respond to stressors in a healthy way while maintaining their daily routine. An IOP therapist named Shae helped Will focus on skills that would help him handle life’s challenges and enjoy its gifts.

“We set small, achievable goals together, and her favorite phrase was, ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it’,” Will shared. “I bought another brick as a way to say ‘thank you’ to Shae.” 

“I knew the Dewey Center was special”

Will hadn’t sought treatment before, but knew he’d found the right place when he found the Dewey Center. Holly and Shae both cemented his gratitude. His two gifts to the Dewey Center Serenity Garden are his way to show how grateful he is to be a part of the “Dewey community.” 

“I feel the Serenity Garden is a place to reflect on our pasts while preparing ourselves for a positive future,” Will concluded. “Not only is it a great place to inspire hope, but a great place to find acceptance.”

There’s still time to support our Renew, Restore, Rebuild campaign, which has helped increase patient access and enhance addiction recovery services at the Dewey Center on the Aurora Behavioral Health campus. Please call Judi Strout at 414-615-5935 or email for more information.


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