Marsha Williamson finds divine design in reducing stigma of addiction, recovery.
Marsha Williamson came to the Dallas 24 Hour Club as a fundraising consultant in November 2013 and wasn’t impressed.
“I can remember touring the facility and thinking that this ramshackle building is going to catch on fire, and people are going to die,” the Highland Park woman said. “I was frightened by the number of homeless people who were trying to get sober who were literally crammed into every nook and cranny in an unsafe facility.”
Before a year had passed, she’d become interim executive director. Williamson credits God’s design for that.
“All of a sudden, I could see the miracles happening, in spite of this overcrowded building, full of those just off the street,” she said. “The program of recovery was working, and I was ALL IN, much to my husband’s chagrin.”
“I desperately want to take away the stigma of both things and find lasting help for the suffering addict/alcoholic who may also be dealing with mental illness.”Marsha Williamson
Her gifts center around solving complex problems, and the Dallas 24 Hour Club had plenty: no donor base, no website, no fundraising history, and a miserably maintained, century-plus-old building siphoning away what little money the nonprofit had.
She secured a Citizen HKS Award for $250,000 in architectural services, recruited Michael Young to lead a fundraising effort that brought in $1 million-plus, and enlisted Steve Van Amburgh, CEO of KDC, to galvanize the Dallas construction community to build, mostly pro bono, a $5 million facility.
The 14,000-square-foot, 75-bed facility opened Feb. 28, 2018, and served more than 600 residents in its first year. Visit dallas24hourclub.org.
“I experienced the devastation of substance abuse and mental illness in a loved one,” Williamson said. “It not only devastated him but our entire family. I desperately want to take away the stigma of both things and find lasting help for the suffering addict/alcoholic who may also be dealing with mental illness.”
PN: What do you want other North Texans to know about the Dallas 24 Hour Club?
Marsha: The 24 is not a place to rest your head. It is a place of healing, accountability, and structure which focuses on helping our residents embrace long-term sobriety and become contributing, self-supporting members of society. Addiction is devastating and is not discriminatory. When people walk in through our doors, they have lost everything, including their families. Our staff and residents become their family, which encourages them to work a strong recovery program, get a job, be fiscally responsible, and begin re-connecting with their families and friends.
PN: What’s the best leadership advice you ever received?
Marsha: My dad has told me since I was a little girl to “always be myself, and people will like me.” I think that is true. I also love one of Winston Churchill’s quotes:
“The POSITIVE THINKER sees the INVISIBLE, feels the INTANGIBLE, and achieves the IMPOSSIBLE.”
PN: Tell us a fun fact. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
Marsha: I am a sports fanatic! I love baseball and college football the most, but really any sport will do. COVID has NOT done me any favors in this regard. I can’t imagine life without College GameDay on Saturday morning.
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