Every year the Washington Recovery Alliance recognizes a community leader with the Vince Collins Recovery Champion Award. This year, we are proud to honor Luis Rosales, Executive Director of Trilogy Recovery Community in Walla Walla.

Luis is an excellent leader who is committed to the spirit and reality of recovery community-building and exemplifies dedication in his work to build recovery capital with youth, adults, and families. Luis is committed to racial equity and justice, and works to ensure that recovery is possible for everyone in the Walla Walla Valley, whether the connection is made in Spanish or English.

His perseverance helped form Recovery Pods for men and women in the county jail, and countless youth who have experienced adjudication have relied on his guidance and compassion during their time spent at the Juvenile Justice Center. Luis takes recovery seriously and works daily to ensure that it is accessible to all by maintaining a fee-free structure for services provided at Trilogy Recovery Community, where he serves as the Executive Director.  

Luis told us more about some of the critical pieces of his work in a short interview:

Can you tell us more about how you started Recovery Pods in the jail? What made this important to you?

Relationships are key to creating positive change. The Recovery Pod project is a perfect case in point. A former board member and person in long term recovery, Norrie Gregoire became Walla Walla County Corrections Department Director that oversees the jail and the juvenile justice center. He has a big heart for recovery and believes greatly in the work Trilogy is doing. When he saw an opportunity to partner with us and other organizations that could help inmates with community reentry services he began to reach out and have conversations. A big factor for us was securing funding to allow us to do this work. Trilogy does not charge a fee to anyone that seeks its services. However, it costs money to operate and have quality staff provide the service. 

What gives you hope and inspiration?

My personal spiritual, devotional life and connection to God provides me purpose and hope. This naturally leads to my family and friends being inspirations to me. Additionally, the people I work with and serve bring me hope and inspiration.  

What changes would you like to see in the behavioral health system?

Better collaboration with grass-root organizations. Direct financial support. Opportunities to try to problem-solve together and address persistent issues and cases to close the gaps and cracks people fall through. Growth in acceptance of the power of peer support, specifically peer recovery support.

Through conversations and exploring options, we were able to secure a subcontract with the county to deliver services to inmates in the jail. The commander at the jail and a local substance use treatment provider worked with us to develop the concept of the Recovery Pod. Additional organizations in the community were invited to participate in the service delivery as well, including 12-step mutual aid groups, a jail/prison re-entry organization, a DV shelter advocate, and others. They’d come in weekly to the jail at set times to deliver their services. Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit and changed everything. All groups came to a halt. Fortunately, we were granted permission to be able to deliver the groups via telehealth beginning in May. That is what we have been doing since COVID-19 hitting.

Recently, the county was awarded a contract by the state to start a residential treatment program at the jail. Because of limited space and needing to fully comply with contract requirements we will be changing the work we are doing with recovery pods and transitioning to provide support to the participants of the residential treatment program (once it is put in place) and working with the three therapeutic courts (i.e. family court, adult court, and recovery court). We will be hiring for a new position to do this work and hopefully, have someone begin in November or at the latest December of this year. We are excited about the next evolution of our work with court services and the individuals we will be working with.

How do you put your commitment to racial equity and justice into practice as the leader of a recovery organization?

It begins for me by listening and meeting people where they are. Inviting others to provide their perspective and share possible ways to improve things. By vetting ideas extensively to ensure we are considering their implications. By asking for feedback and being willing to make changes. Reminding myself that I don’t know everything. By surrounding myself with smart, compassionate individuals. By taking calculated risks. By reading and observing others navigate and put into practice equity and justice into the work they do. By ensuring that I live my values and purpose in how I engage with others. By reflecting on our organizational values and challenging our staff to ensure that in everything we seek to do that we filter everything through those values. By giving myself and others grace as we do this work. 

This is hard work and we will misstep. That’s okay. By saying yes to invitations that bring in other voices or allow you to share with others. By understanding and embracing that there are many paths to recovery and allowing our peers to have choices/options. By paying attention to the language we use to communicate with others. By understanding the history of racial equity and justice in the US, being open to understanding cultures outside of mine, and finally by trying to create shared meaning. 

Congratulations again to Luis on being the 2020 Recovery Champion, and thank you for your dedication to recovery!

If you missed out on the Speak Out For Recovery event this year, you can watch the recording here.