Peggy Albrecht: Saving the Day for 30 years.
Sometimes, particularly lately, you might feel there are a lack of heroes to look up to; fewer role models than there used to be, fewer people guided by an unerring moral compass. I get it. Life gets busy, traffic is bad, weekends are crammed, kids have soccer, facebook is calling - for many reasons, there are fewer of us that are able and willing to step up, take charge and give selflessly. Are you in need of a 'shot in the arm' to restore your faith in humanity?
Angelenos, look no further. Peggy Albrecht, the 87 year old Executive Director of Friendly House is on the job.
Founded in 1951, Friendly House was the first residential home in the country for women suffering from drug abuse and alcoholism. For many years it was the only safe harbor for recovering women and it became a model for recovery centers in the US and Europe. With a successful treatment rate of 76%, compared to the hospital average of 35%, much of that success is owed to Peggy's vision. Her guiding force and enormous compassion for the women that seek treatment, has set Friendly House apart. It inspires affectionate alumni, the Grateful Hearts, to return sometimes weekly, to offer support and counseling to current residents, as well as needed fundraising. In 2013, the board of directors renamed the center the Peggy Albrecht Friendly House, in honor of her more than 30 years of leadership. There are now two homes and treatments centers, the organization recently announced a wider range of services and now takes PPO insurance plans.
Peggy stepped up to the plate, because she knows what it is to suffer debilitating addiction. As an executive at a Fortune 500 company in the late 1960's, her alcoholism escalated, almost to the point of suicide. Her brother took her to her first AA meeting on May 10, 1971 and she has been sober since that day. Peggy has been a den mother and support system to literally thousands of women over the years, and at 94 she has no plans to retire anytime soon.
I want to point out that Peggy began this journey when she was at retirement age for us mere mortals. She has committed herself to her second career with more zeal than most of us find for our first. She believes that, "every woman should have the chance to fight the disease of alcoholism and find a new sense of dignity, integrity and self-esteem".
She's my hero. I want to be Peggy Albrecht when I grow up.