February 9, 1988, was a day that changed our lives forever. On Vilas Road, in Central Point, a drunk driver crashed head on into a car being driven by Betty Frederick. Heather, Betty’s fifteen-month-old granddaughter, was killed and Betty was put in a wheel chair not knowing if she would ever walk normally again.
While in a wheel chair Betty became a part of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. A lot of good was being done there. But, Betty saw many angry, bitter people there and resolved not to become that way. To Betty there had to be a better way. Betty wanted to have an impact to prevent others from suffering the same fate. Putting people away after they harmed other people was not her idea of solving the drunk driver problem. She thought if she could save just one family from experiencing the same tragedy, her life would have had real meaning.
Now, twelve years after the day that changed our lives forever, many women are clean and sober due to the efforts of Betty Frederick. Somewhere in Southern Oregon there is a family with a smiling child full of life that was not killed by a drunk driver because the driver that would have been drunk, was sober. And no one knows who that family is.
In November, 1994, after much research, Betty opened Heathers Haven, the first Clean and Sober Housing for women in the State of Oregon. There were many successful Clean and Sober houses, but they were all for men. None were for women. As far as is known, Heathers Haven is the first successful clean and sober housing for women in the United States. Betty has proven that clean and sober transitional housing for women can work. There now are several in operation across the country, including another new one right here in Medford.
Early in the history of Heathers Haven, Betty was invited to speak before a small group of community leaders. She did not know it was for the purpose of asking for their financial backing. After Betty’s presentation the group discussed it and the consensus was that it would not work. If it was for men, it would have a chance. They told Betty that since it was women there was no chance. Women would eat her up. Betty let those community leaders know that she was not asking for their money, just their blessing and with or without it, Heathers Haven would work. And she proved it. To be fair, there were two men out of the group that had hope that it could work. After the meeting they let her know of their hope, and have been very supportive ever since.
In a way, they were right; it has been a financial failure. But Betty did not let that stop her. She obtained the status of a tax-exempt charitable organization. A few people have donated money. Some of the businesses in Medford have helped with donations of furnishings. A little private help comes in now and then. There is no government funding, and no government strings attached. The costs are financial, but the rewards are emotional. Heathers Haven is the most rewarding thing Betty has ever done. Without it Betty believes she may have become bitter as others have whom she has seen struck with such tragedy.
Betty Frederick, My Wife:
Betty has given of herself to help many women to become productive citizens, to help themselves to go on to be a success, to be a good person who helps their neighbor, to be responsible, to have a good job, a car with insurance, a good credit rating, and a home of their own.
The financial cost has been insignificant compared to the effort Betty has put in and the emotional reward Betty has received. We have spent well over half the family fortune helping people free themselves from the shackles of addiction. The money we put into Heathers Haven alone we could have bought Betty a new car every year. Instead, My wife drives a fourteen-year-old car with a cracked windshield.
To many of the women at Heathers Haven, My wife, Betty Frederick is the Mother Teresa of Medford, Oregon.
People with addiction problems, in general are people with a low tolerance for emotional pain. Conventional wisdom says cause addicts enough pain and they will reach bottom and change their ways. We have found there are many with no bottom. The more pain you cause them the more the drive to turn to something that will remove the pain. That is what is filling our prisons with the failures of our system for handling addiction.
True, for the majority of the population, those without a low tolerance for emotional pain, there is a bottom to which they can sink at which time they will turn their lives around. The most of us are like that and to the community of recovering addicts are called normies. A normie cannot understand anyone who cannot just say “no”. In a normie’s experience anyone who cannot just say no is just weak willed. And deserves to be punished.
Helping an addict to avoid emotional pain is just enabling them to continue in addictive behavior.
But there is a better way. Helping an addict to learn to avoid emotional pain by ways other than drugs, or other addictive behaviors, is to help them to overcome their addiction. At Heathers Haven Betty has provided a place where women can overcome addictive behaviors. One of the keys is to develop close relationships with other people for mutual support. Not only are the close relationships there to help the addict, but also the addict gets great reward from being there to help someone else. That is the big basis for reward, the good feeling that comes from helping someone else.
Women generally leave Heathers Haven for one of three reasons: (1.) They get kicked out for disrupting the serenity, or for using drugs or alcohol. (Betty has and enforces a zero tolerance policy. Anyone using must stay out for 30 days before being allowed to return.) (2.) They leave because of a life-changing event such as getting their children back. (3.) They leave because they have grown to where they believe they are ready to face life on life’s terms. No one “graduates” from Heathers Haven. Many of our “success” stories are those who have been kicked out of the environment where they once tasted the reward that comes with being connected with others they can count on for mutual support.
Many women come to Heathers Haven with the attitude that what they do in their time is no one else’s business. Few leave with that attitude unless they get kicked out for exercising it. One of the greatest rewards in life is the good feeling that comes with helping someone else succeed. One of the greatest hindrances to recovery is “taking someone else’s inventory.” Taking someone else’s inventory is pointing out, or listing the faults or failures seen in someone else. This fosters a feeling of I’m better so I do not need to improve. There is a subtle difference between someone else’s private affairs being my business and taking someone else’s inventory. Betty teaches women to take the high road of helping others in their personal affairs, and accepting such help from others, without falling into the trap of taking someone else’s inventory.