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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Friday, April 1, 2016

Remembering Sally Lara, a Pioneer in Helping Women Find Sobriety

Sometimes we’re fortunate to meet someone whose smile lights up a room and their dedication to a mission is contagious. Sally Lara was one of those special people. I met her through my late husband, Bill in the mid 1990’s. I clearly recall him saying, “she is someone you have to meet and learn from, young lady.” How right he was.

Sally was a pioneer in developing a women’s addiction treatment program in the Valley to meet their special needs and help to eliminate barriers that women — especially those with children face when trying to recover from alcohol and substances. The model developed by Sally was built on hope, respect, and unconditional acceptance. 

In 1998, it began with the opening of a long term outpatient program which comprised a staff of a nurse practitioner to meet mental health needs, a vocational counselor to help women achieve educational and vocational goals, and a psychologist to aid in healing their trauma. This achievement was the opening of Weldon House, which is thriving and helping women to this day.

Breaking Down the Barriers

Weldon House was created for the many women who face barriers in leaving abusive relationships, sustaining recovery from addiction, obtaining adequate housing, and finding jobs that provide a livable wage. The program helps the women learn the life and professional skills needed to overcome these challenges and improve their self-esteem. “Our program works closely with the women to help them believe in themselves,” said Thelma Ross, CEO of NCADD.
In 2004, six two bedroom units were provided to women with children, a “home” in which to recover, heal and plan for a healthy future. Sally loved these women when they could not love or accept their selves. Today, Weldon House is home to 23 families. 

Another area close to Sally’s heart was providing services to addicted women who were pregnant. Healthy Connections for Moms to Be led NCADD to a new frontier in treatment. Hundreds of babies have been born drug and alcohol free because Sally dedicated herself to helping those who could not help themselves, she gave them HOPE. 

NCADD Phoenix has since added emergency housing for pregnant women until they can be place in a safe environment. The newest addition is “Sally’s Place” named to honor her and her work. Sally’s Place is a Weldon Model for pregnant addicted women who also have a serious mental illness. Sally’s memory and her work live on and continue to impact lives. In December 2015 after a long and arduous battle with cancer, Sally transitioned. 

She was someone who not only touched lives, she saved lives and made the world a better place. Her special qualities are represented in the staff she hired and led who now carry on these programs. Weldon House, Sally’s Place and other programs provided by NCADD Phoenix is a place of real love, acceptance and respect. The work and dedication Sally began will continue for years to come. 

For information on NCCAD Phoenix, Weldon House and Sally’s Place visit www.ncadd-phx.org/weldon.html. Donations of clothing, furniture and items for babies are always needed. 
I was very blessed to know her and may her legacy live on for generations to come.
“Supporting women in building 
a healthy life for themselves
 and their children.”