Bill’s Story: “If You’re not Giving Back, You’re Missing the Goal”

The first time he set foot in Renascent’s Paul J. Sullivan Centre (Sullivan Centre), “I had no idea what I was getting into,” Bill Smith admits.

He came to Renascent having relapsed after four and a half years of recovery – the result, he says, of “lots of meetings and no Steps.”

“I was sober for a stretch, but the truth is, I hadn’t done the real work,” he says. “The real work comes by following the Steps; Steps Four and Five, which are really tough, are especially essential. They had a profound effect on me.”

After graduating from treatment Bill stayed active in Renascent’s alumni fellowship, often driving from Cambridge to Whitby to attend meetings. Just over a year later, he was back at Sullivan Centre – but this time, he was working the overnight shift. A trusted counsellor, confidant and volunteer, Bill continued to devote time there in various capacities, helping out wherever there was a need.

“I wanted to help the place that had helped me,” he says simply, “and I did all I could to support the house.”

He didn’t stop there. For over 30 years, Bill has made it his mission to help those new to recovery understand the Steps. At present he sponsors nearly ten people, and he’s begun conducting 12-step meetings online that reach hundreds more in India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangladesh, Dubai, U.K., and USA.

A true believer in leading by example, Bill champions volunteerism as a pathway to healing and challenges his peers to do the same.

“I always hear people say they’re so grateful Renascent has given them their life back,” he says. “Well, what’s that worth to you?  Don’t tell me you’re grateful; show me. Take the time to become an Alumni Contact for someone else. Use your skills to help others, help the organization.

Gratitude is an action, not a feeling.”

Three decades and countless contributions into his recovery, Bill recently received a Yielding Family Legacy Recovery Award in recognition of the excellence and commitment with which he impacts the recovery community. But while he appreciates the accolades, he’s proud of his legacy for more personal reasons.

“I come from a long line of alcoholics,” he shares, “and I want to emphasize that even with that history, you can break the chain. My two grown sons swear they have never seen me drink. After all those generations, I am so grateful we’ve broken the link.”

Now in retirement, Bill devotes even more time to the cause so close to his heart. “I was a good executive,” he says, “but I think my calling is counselling. One I do for money, the other I do for inner peace. That’s the payoff.

I don’t know what will happen next, but when it does, I’ll be there to suit up and show up.  If you’re not giving back, you’re missing the goal. This is where it’s at.”

About the Authors

Renascent Staff
The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery – with compassion, respect, empathy and understanding. Our staff includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.