Mariners Inn Serves as Anchor in Troubled Lives

Alyssa Witzleben

| 4 min read

Black and white image of man sitting on a bench.
“Recovery is possible and real … and begins at Mariners Inn.” This philosophy drives the life-changing work that happens at Mariners Inn, a nonprofit agency in midtown Detroit focused on lifting people up from homelessness and addiction, strengthening families, and breaking a sometimes-difficult cycle of substance abuse that can flow through and impact generations. Their mission is to “serve as an anchor for those struggling to navigate the treacherous waters of homelessness and substance abuse by providing professional and compassionate residential substance abuse treatment for homeless men, and providing youth, adults, and families within our community the highest quality prevention and intervention programs”. Mariners Inn aims to treat addiction as a disease through a peer-driven recovery support system to help clients achieve a sober lifestyle and reduce the likelihood of a relapse. With the opioid abuse epidemic in the United States at an all-time high, programs and treatment centers such as Mariners Inn are crucial community resources to help those affected by it. In their 2017-2018 fiscal year alone, more than 700 men were served through Mariners Inn, with 75% of them struggling due to mental health and substance use disorder. The organization also reports that 86% of their customers leave to a positive housing destination. In April, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation provided a $20,000 grant to Mariners Inn to support peer recovery services for men suffering from substance use disorder and mental illness. The foundation also previously provided grant funding intended to reduce the number of preventable hospital re-admissions for substance abuse relapse and mental health crises by treating addiction and mental illness simultaneously. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has also sponsored the organization’s annual River Rhythm Gala for the past several years. We were fortunate enough to speak with Dorothy Vukmirovich, a recovery housing therapist at Mariners Inn. Here, she generously answers our questions on the remarkable work Mariners Inn staff and volunteers do in the community. 1. What makes Mariners Inn different from other recovery programs in Michigan? Mariners Inn operates two aftercare programs, the extended residency program (permanent supportive housing) and the recovery housing program. Mariners Inn provides a structured environment for those consumers who have chosen to continue on the path of recovery. The consumers in the recovery housing phase of treatment are provided and offered community involvement opportunities as a way to engage in sober-related activities as well as person-centered services that adhere to the consumer’s mental, physical, social, and emotional dynamics through the use of a therapist, peer coach, and service coordinator. Consumers are also connected with programs aimed toward addressing the unique needs of the family through our prevention services such as the Strengthening Families Program (SFP), SHE (Strong - Healthy - Empowered) for young women, and Residential Youth Prevention Program (RYPP), which focuses on rebuilding the family connections and preventing modeling at-risk behavior. 2. If you had to describe Mariners Inn with one word, what would it be? Dedicated. Mariners Inn has a staff that is dedicated to the mission of Mariners Inn. This dedication is demonstrated during the personalized attention that each consumer receives as he or his family is faced with homelessness and substance abuse, by providing quality care through core values, such as compassion, integrity, and dignity and respect of the consumer and his family. 3. What are the struggles of operating a nonprofit such as Mariners Inn? The highlights? The struggles are recognizing that some community members lack awareness of the need for non-profit programs such as the ones offered by Mariners Inn. They may therefore lack the awareness that when one person is helped, his family is also helped and the community is positively impacted. The highlight is seeing the many lives, families, and communities that have been positively impacted and ultimately changed by entering Mariners Inn. 4. Do you offer volunteer opportunities or accept community donations? Yes, Mariners Inn offers several avenues for volunteerism and donations. Volunteering is possible through an internship, community members offering to hire consumers, and community volunteers. Monetary donations and donations of goods and services are also accepted. 5. How are peer coaches providing one-on-one support to men seeking services through Mariners Inn? Peer coaches are an integral aspect of the recovery efforts. Peer coaches provide the unique prospective that comes from them having been through the process of regaining their lives through the services and programs that many of the consumers are currently receiving. Many clients have connected with the peer coaches and have regained their sobriety through the use of the peer coach. Peer coaches help clients develop a recovery plan, find resources for harm reduction, detox, treatment, family support and education, local or online support groups, or help a client create a change plan to recover on their own. To learn more about services offered at Mariners Inn, visit their website. 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Photo Credit: jaminwell
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association