The Rhoades to Recovery

The Rhoades to Recovery

It was Emily Dickinson who said, “I dwell in possibility.” One of those dwellers is Marianne Taylor-Rhoades, a nurse and counselor who, for the past 16 years, served as the Chief Operating Officer of a homeless shelter for men suffering with a Substance Abuse Disorder. She tackles the current opiate epidemic in the United States head-on, looking back on a long career of instilling hope in those afflicted with addiction.

The motivation to become a nurse came into Marianne’s life late, when her children were 3 and 4 years old. The nurse who helped her as a new mother revealed how fulfilled she was, and how many opportunities there are for nurses, inspiring her to go back to college to study at Misericordia School of Nursing. She graduated as an RN in 1980, which is when she began noticing how many of the people in her life were experiencing problems with chemical dependency.

The effects of war were prominent in her life, as many of her friends were veterans who were returning to the states after serving in Vietnam. Marianne began working at a V. A. Hospital as a nurse in an alcohol treatment program for veterans — work that was both compelling and rewarding. “It was then that I became educated in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and Mental illness,” she explains. “My interest grew deeper as I witnessed so many Veterans in despair.” She studied hard and passed the state exam to become a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor. Marianne just recently graduated with a Master’s Degree one year prior to her children graduating college; her dedication to helping others is quite literally a lifelong passion.

Running a shelter is a job requiring Marianne to perform a myriad of duties, many of which are hard to even put into words. “My job was to insure that the men we cared received the most optimal treatment to restore their dignity and self-worth and accomplish recovery,” she explains. Working as both a nurse and a counselor after graduating from nursing school, Marianne knew she wanted to continue to work in the Behavioral Health Field. “My career opened many opportunities and truly melded together all the of the social determinants that effect a person’s life,” she says. She enjoyed working in a field that was “truly holistic and treated all aspects of a person; physical, emotional and spiritual.”

The reward for Marianne’s efforts was always the permanent sobriety of her patients, instilling a feeling of pride in both her patients and herself as they worked together to restore dignity and self-worth to a person who was once lost. It’s dismaying, the number of people addicted to substances in the United States, with numbers growing all the time. “It is truly heartbreaking that so many families are affected,” she laments, adding that it is always devastating to learn that another life was lost.

With such a challenging and physical job, comfort and breathability are of the utmost importance when choosing the day’s outfit. “It’s always important to look professional at the same time as being comfortable,” Marianne reveals. Business casual is always a safe bet for her, and in her field it is always important to set an example for the clients with whom she is working. Her ideal work outfit is “comfortable, neat, some type of knit pants/leggings with a casual knit/cotton top and either a knit/Cotton/wool, and a jacket or sweater that compliments the outfit.” Sensible, professional, and ready for anything. Sounds like Marianne in a nutshell!

If you were moved by Marianne’s endless plight to restore dignity to those afflicted with addiction, you can donate or volunteer to your local substance abuse shelter.

Jesse Erin