The Center for Spirituality in Twelve Step Recovery was founded by the Reverend J. David Else in 1988.
Rev. Else has devoted his life to the field of recovery from addiction. His work has been recognized and praised by two former U.S. Presidents – Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton. Although he recently assumed Emeritus status at the Center he remains a vital and active part of its life.
“A Visionary for the Addicted”
Dave’s concern for addiction disease grew out of his being the youngest “lost” child of two late stage alcoholics. In his late teen he was headed toward alcoholism himself but was redirected, miraculously, before crossing the line into addiction.
In his late twenties Dave’s life took a drastic turn when his mother’s alcoholism led to her suffering dementia and he felt powerlessness. Though an atheist he, in desperation, sought God’s help and received it. Within a few years Dave entered seminary and was ordained an Episcopal priest.
After five years in parish ministry Dave experienced a calling to refocus his ministry to persons and families suffering from addiction disease, working in programs both inpatient and outpatient, funding a community outpatient program and in 1976, establishing the first Drug and Alcohol private practice in this region.
He came to realize that the focus in addiction disease care had drifted from recovery support to medically /psychologically-based treatment. He wrote a published essay, “Recovering Recovery” and it became a mission statement for the program he founded, The Center for Spirituality in Twelve Step Recovery. He retired but continues to share his vision, support, and direction as Director Emeritus.
In 2011, Gina R. Hickman joined the Center for Spirituality in 12 Step Recovery as Executive Director.
Mrs. Hickman began working in the field of social work after losing her eldest son to gang violence. This catastrophic loss evoked a strong and powerful desire for her to become a catalyst for change in the community in which she lived and where her son was tragically gunned down.
Gina began this process by mobilizing and forming a small group called WINGS, Women In Need of God’s Support. Her choice was prompted by individuals who had also experienced the pain of loss. The group would meet in order to share their experiences; and would strengthen and give support to one another. She realized that she needed more; so she sought out other support groups and help in order to continue healing emotionally and mentally. Her journey continued as she began volunteering in various community groups.
It was at that time, that Mrs. Hickman made a decision to attend school to become a social worker. Immediately during the course of her studies, she began to focus and concentrate in the area of drug and alcohol. She realized she had much to offer in the area. Her secondary focus of education was computer technology.
After working in many treatment centers throughout Allegheny County, in 2004, she was offered a position with The Center for Spirituality as a Care Manager, where she has now served as well as escalated going into her 8th year. Gina states, “Truly, this has been one of the best decisions I could have made. Here at The Center, we are a family that prays in order to strengthen one another so that we may bring strength to our consumers. We do not carry the consumer nor do we try and fix them, we simply give them a message of hope through our mentorship and our experiences.”