Meet ATTORNEY FRANK BOLOCK ,
Today's guest is Attorney Frank J. Bolock, Jr. Frank has practiced civil and criminal law throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania for almost 43 years. In addition to his law practice Bolock serves as the president, CEO of Treatment court Advocacy Center of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation, and he's also the project director of the Recovery Bank, which we'll speak about today to community Recovery Resource Center, developed by the treatment court advocacy. The mission of the treatment court advocacy is to assist treatment court participants and alleviating obstacles to their compliance with the requirements of treatment court, and also to assist the participants in engaging fully in their recovery. The Recovery Bank Community Recovery Resource Center has as its mission connecting treatment court participants and people new to recovery with peers and long term recovery and recovery resources. Frank is also served as assistant district attorney with the Lackawanna County District Attorney's Office, where he prosecuted a wide variety of criminal cases ranging from Homicide to misdemeanor offenses, compiling an outstanding record of success as a prosecutor. Following several years as an assistant district attorney, Attorney Bolock began his criminal defense practice which continues throughout the Pennsylvania federal court systems.
Additionally, Bolock has served as special advocate to the Lackawanna County treatment court. Today Frank comes in to talk about the genesis of the recovery bank and how that came about. Frank is a friend. And we get to speak about this genesis of the RECOVERY BANK over the course of three decades, where Frank was introduced to service, and with that experience, he was able to help shepherd, the recovery bank with a lot of other great people.
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Joe Van Wie 0:02
I am here. We're here with Frank Bullock from the recovery bank. I've known Frank. I don't know since I'm a child, my parents Smith Scranton town. And if I'm not mistaken, I think you might have helped my mother in her separation and divorce. And I think that story was rattling around in my head. Frank helped out, but Frank's here today. And what we wanted to discuss is the recovery bank. It's located in downtown Scranton. And this is a phenomenal story of how it started. Frankie having a vision, being a part of an organization and a board that got an opportunity to acquire property and build a community center that was dynamic involved. With the recovery community could center around and have events. I'm gonna let Frank tell this story and where this recovery bank is going. So I want to thank you for coming in today, Frank.
Attorney Frank Bolock 1:01
Well, thank you, Joe. It's a pleasure to be here. The pleasure is mine. And thanks for having me on. And I, of course, love talking about recovery and my own recovery and, and the and the recovery bank and Treatment Court Advocacy Center of Lackawanna County, which is the nonprofit corporation that I was privileged to be part of the formation of it back in 2008. And basically, the mission of treatment court Advocacy Center was to assist the treatment court participants in Lackawanna County treatment court specialty courts, as they moved from an addictive lifestyle to a sober lifestyle. When we formed the board, we were pretty much looking to to provide funding for unfunded needs of people in treatment court. So if they needed housing assistance, or transportation, or clothing or school, all that kind of stuff. So from 2008, to 2018, it was an all volunteer board, we had no staff, we basically would do fundraising, do some grant writing, and attempt to help the treatment court team, the actual probation team, the judges, as they were developing policy, and as they were looking to, to just kind of help people along. Yeah. We arrived in 2018, the Board did, and we had a Saturday retreat, like a brainstorming session, on my board, are a number of people like myself who are in long term recovery. And and, you know, we're thrilled to be part of the the helping mission that we have with treatment court Advocacy Center, but our honor, kind of weigh in to the rest of the board, which is comprised of judges and DBAs. And public defenders and people on the treatment core team was that there, there's more we thought we should do that more than we knew that we could do to help the process. And and the process of going through treatment court. Yes, could be a year to up to five, yeah, it's typically it's typically somewhere around two years to sometimes can be a little bit longer. Sometimes it can be a little bit less, but there are phases in the objectives of treatment court participants is to meet the goals that the treatment court team, including the judge develops for those folks, you know, whether it's find employment, get back to school, reunite with their family course, real help. Yeah, don't reoffend. Yeah. You know, and in the system really works, you know, the accountability, that the judge judge braces, really the wizard behind Yeah, treatment court of movement in Pennsylvania, throughout the country, that realization? Yeah. Is you know, yes, we're gonna give people a chance people who would otherwise have a felony conviction forever,
Joe Van Wie 4:05
are pigeon holed in criminality that are suffering from a disorder. Yeah,
Attorney Frank Bolock 4:09
yeah. So so here's the deal. We, you can earn the expungement of your record, but you need to abide by these rules. Sure. And the judge and the treatment court team are very serious about accountability. So there are there are certainly there are rewards that are dispensed, but there are sanctions, you know, a person misses an appointment and kind of fails a drug test. You know, doesn't, you know, attend meetings. There's a consequence and sometimes the treatment yeah, sometimes the consequences. Yeah, go to jail. Yeah. Sometimes it's a person being dismissed from from treatment
Joe Van Wie 4:51
and going back into the regular legal system at the drug court. Yep.
Attorney Frank Bolock 4:55
Yeah. So it is very successful. The success rate probably 87 88% nominal. Yeah. And, you know, works all the way around taxpayer save money, you know, it's two main it's the main, I guess people chance they can earn the expungement of the record. But the folks on the board, including myself, what we observed about treatment court participants, is that they would, in many instances, come to me recovery meetings, and they would just kind of blend into the woodwork, you know, get their paper signed, yeah. And they'd leave. Not everybody, some people would, would become a center of continual engagement. Now, I don't know that they fully understood the language of recovery, or what it was about, they were just going through that motion of Well, I have to get my paper signed. Not everybody, and some people really did well, they've embraced recovery. They, they were very successful.
Joe Van Wie 5:57
No, there was in 12 Step community, a little backlash, where all these papers being said, but that's all we settled down. But I remember that being there was an issue in the late 80s 90s, where we have nothing to do with the court systems. But I think that growing pain has passed.
Attorney Frank Bolock 6:14
Yeah. But we said, we the other members of recovery communities, on our boards, you know, we we think there's a way we can maybe help to help treatment core participants to become more engaged in their recovery to embrace recovery. And we started talking about just really trying to connect people, we have lots of friends who are in recovery, who are interested in helping because it helps their recovery, just like
Joe Van Wie 6:46
we're pretty spoiled here. Recovery wise, it's a long commute, history of a community and 12 steps that we have a dignified court system, many treatment centers. I think we're not regular, we're not the average here. A rich understanding of recovery. Yeah.
Attorney Frank Bolock 7:08
So yeah, so we, you know, we observed that. And we thought to you, if we could if we could bring people together, people who have experienced recovery successfully with new people, wouldn't that wouldn't be a helpful thing. You know, in my own case, just, you know, I was privileged and honored and so blessed to be in recovery. Now, since 1986. I started my recovery journey, a little bit prior to that, I had somewhat of a rocky start, reluctant to recover, as they said. So I did manage to get to treatment in 1985. And I learned about alcoholism, even though I was living in it. But I learned about the layout intellectually, I guess I'd say understood it, but I had some trouble really putting it into, to my life. And so So I struggled. I ended up a year later coming back into treatment after a relapse. And then sometime after that, some months after that, I received a call from really a famous lawyer who, who said, you know, I'm in recovery. I've been in recovery for a long time this guy was reached out to you. Yeah. For Philadelphia. He said, I understand you're, you're doing well on recovery. So at first I was paranoid. Yeah. Who told him what list to my end? He said, Well, yeah, whatever, you know, I get up in northeastern Pennsylvania. So I hear about that. He said, and so we're, we've been trying for about 10 years, we meeting the lawyers who are in recovery in Pennsylvania, to develop a peer recovery system for lawyers. And, you know, we've had our struggles, you know, the whole Philadelphia versus Pittsburgh, who's going to get on top rates, hourly rates. We think if we could get a younger person from the hinterlands who's in recovery, like you, Frank, maybe that'll help and they did reach out to some other people. So we had more of a geographic balance that was invited to meetings to talk about how are we going to do this thing where attorneys, yeah, it ended up being called lawyers concern for lawyers. Does it still exist still exists? No. And so I was a young lawyer at the time over a lawyer now. And I, I remember saying to my sponsor at the time, Leo V. I said, Leo, that I'm down here, there's lawyers, I mean, out there just famous, fabulous, famous lawyers. They've all been in recovery at that point for 2030 years. And he was Yeah, yeah, of course, you know, yeah. And I said, and there's will able to practice and do wonderful things. He said, Yeah, that might happen for you too. Yeah. Lawyer, lawyers and chefs parties, man. Yeah. So the name of the group, the name of the organization was and still is lawyers concern for lawyers. Is that statewide or national organizations? Well, it's it lawyers concern for lawyers of Pennsylvania is a statewide or was really a front runner in the idea of peer recovery support for lawyers. When I told Leo the name of it, and he said, Well, what was his I said, his lawyers concern for lawyers. He's perfectly said, because who the heck else could care? He said, sort of, I think there's not enough lawyer jokes. And so, so I'm privileged to be a founding member of that organization, which is thriving today.
Joe Van Wie 10:54
And that connected was that the first thing that connected you to distinct service, like there's something outside of just my regular personal program of recovery? Like I could, I could do something that's combating stigma, adding specialized privacy to my profession.
Attorney Frank Bolock 11:10
And that's what it was, you know, it was first, you know, to try to help lawyers participate in interventions help lawyers get into treatment, help them, you know, sometimes the lawyer have to go to treatment, and they have a caseload. Well, our volunteer group. So that's complex. That was pretty neat. You know, so that was in the, you know, mid 80s. And, and that organization has grown and for decades, yeah. It's so that I have that experience. Boy, we, you know, we, yeah, we're in recovery. But you know, we, we also share this other thing, our profession, and it made a difference, it helped my recovery
Joe Van Wie 11:50
experience adding up to come to this the genesis of the recovery bank. Yeah, that makes sense. I didn't know that. Yeah.
Attorney Frank Bolock 11:57
So. So. So anyhow, you know, I in my practice, I was an assistant district attorney many, many years ago, on that side of law. Yeah. And then, yeah. And then, as my alcoholism progressed. And then actually, as I got into treatment and and into recovery, I started to do more criminal defense. Yeah, it was the pirates. Yeah. And away from the squares playing. It but but you know, what, what started to develop just in my law practice was the idea of what what we were calling the recovery defense, it really isn't a defense, it was using a person's recovery as a mitigating factor in sentencing.
Joe Van Wie 12:42
So this, that idea that you're saying, that's internal, that's your office? Yeah. But it now this is an institutional? Originally, that's yeah. So Wow. So but it just makes sense. Like, because you're in recovery, and you're sitting, this has to be a recovery. Wow, I didn't. So that's interesting.
Attorney Frank Bolock 13:01
I went from, how can I be a lawyer and be in recovery to? Well, I'm in recovery, and I can now incorporate lots of the things of my recovery into
Joe Van Wie 13:12
my professional life. What year was this? 1986 1987 let me explore this, because that's the late 80s. Right? War on Drugs is is just booming, it's being the infrastructure is just being exponential every two years of budgets for law enforcement tactics. And it's great, and you're designing the idea of a recovery defense and in a criminal case. And you Judge Michael brace, you're coming up in the system together. And this is just making sense to you that wait a minute, where does the line of criminality versus mental health where's it being drawn? Because the laws aren't matching the help that's needed? This, this is all kind of working pieces coming together. This, this interests me because you're the guys that started to say peel this away from just straight criminality. People are suffering. Yeah. Wow.
Attorney Frank Bolock 14:11
So so interesting. Judge Michael brace was was District Attorney Michael brace in that time period. And, you know, was and is law and order. Yeah, yeah. So I would come in with my, you know, recovery. Talk, you'll be defensive. And not because I did such a great job of presenting it. But I think because he was perceptive enough to say, gee, you know, this could actually work and some of the people that he's brilliant, that's brilliant, gave an opportunity. They were successful, and their success helped to kind of move things along. Yeah. So then a couple of years later, da brace becomes judge brace and I'm still pitching away my defense again, not a good fight, though. It's not not saying to the judge, hey, forgive this person because they were addicted or alcoholic, but they are now in recovery and things are changing. So let's look at well, yeah, you know, the value
Joe Van Wie 15:22
of this is different, the criminality is going to disappear. The criminality is being caused by a disorder of death. Yeah.
Attorney Frank Bolock 15:28
And it wasn't just me preaching that it was it was guys like Michelangelo and, and he actually introduced me to some lawyers in Texas, who actually coined the phrase, the recovery defense, and kind of helped me to put that together. It's a story,
Joe Van Wie 15:44
it's just doesn't seem accessible to me. I'm in recovery. 20 years I've known you. I didn't know the details of the story. And it's interesting, this is how policy and culture and society changes in the south stigma disappears. Yeah, that you, you know, it could be uncomfortable going around your peers and colleagues, I'm an alcoholic, I'm in recovery. You don't do that? Or you're defending someone, same way. You want them to get off, what could some drug addict is now not responsible for his growth? And it's not the story you're projecting? Yeah, that's great.
Attorney Frank Bolock 16:17
And, you know, I didn't then don't know, walk around, you know, with the sandwich board, saying, Hey, I'm the recovering lawyer in the community. That's not, no, that's not the way I operate. And
Joe Van Wie 16:30
I've never seen that. But you also have a reputation though, of understanding, I've called you multiple times, your your, your the list of people that understands you'll understand a client that might not understand himself. At that point, it could help.
Attorney Frank Bolock 16:46
So I don't normally lead with a client saying, Hey, man recover. Sometimes it never comes out that directly. Yeah, sometimes it does. Sometimes I know. Because a lot of the people that I deal with are people who are kind of wired just like I am, and I think I can can help them a little bit. And if I think you can help, then I reveal my, my recovery, let intuition kind of guide your hand there. Yeah, yeah. So. So it's, it's really, it's been just kind of working out what I was told, which was like, just focus on your recovery, the rest of the stuff will take care of itself. And it really did my practice, you know, just increased exponentially as my recovery. did. You know, I used to say, you know, I can, I can see the progress in my practice, as I move along, because of the number of file cabinets and yeah, back when we have file cabinets and closed files, from the years when I was in my addiction, and I was actually doing good work as a lawyer, just not enough of it because I was sidetracked with, you know, with drinking.
Joe Van Wie 17:56
I want to pause right there. Because we were we were talking Off mic. Of that's that is an expression that people in recovery, say focus on recovery first. And that's that's a huge broad idea. If someone doesn't know, recover, what does that mean? Just not drink. But there's a lot in there in those few words. And I know what that means. And we were talking about it and we're spoiled in that sense. I can't solve my problems like a normal person when I stopped drinking. I thought drinking was the problem. And I was out of money. Or these scenarios, the other external fires. And every time I tried with great effort to solve those problems, like anyone else would consider, they got worse. Yeah. And when we talk about a spiritual approach, the spookiness can be taken out of it by that those few words focus on recovery first, what's that mean? involved in the community, facing off with some my relationship
Attorney Frank Bolock 18:52
problems, forget the money, everything else, that's where I feel spoiled and grateful. When I'm in that zone, this is what matters, all the other problems, kind of, they start to solve organically. It's weird. We're lucky, very lucky. Very lucky. And, and I wish in my own case, I could say well, gee, you know, I've experienced that. I know that. And, and good. Let me just go from there. But but the way I'm wired is I still need to be very, very active in my recovery, in order to, to maintain perspective on my life and be able to stay in that place where, you know, really, recovery is the most important thing in my life. I have a beautiful family, wonderful children, you know, great relationships with, you know, friends and colleagues and whatever. But it all comes back to Yeah, and I couldn't blame all that if I don't
Joe Van Wie 19:50
that's the eyeline for for me and you when I lose it, I my relationships suffer. I feel cheated. I have a really bad thing. start to change and I'm not even drinking. Yeah, that's
Attorney Frank Bolock 20:03
yeah. And for me, you know, lasts about a day or two, like if I'm not at a meeting every day, or talking to other people in recovery or doing something about recovery. Yeah, parts of every day. Yeah, I can, I can lose touch with that I can get overwhelmed really easy. I can, you know, get off the beam. So I know that. And I have people around me who know that about me. And I've given them licensed. Yeah, to reel me back in. And it's good. It's good
Joe Van Wie 20:33
to talking to Nick about it. To have someone I my my sponsor, we're not like friend friends. We're a we're recovery friends. He says things to me, my friend, my friends I grew up with wouldn't say to me, like, challenge me, hey, you're being selfish. You're not looking at this the right way. But that is the long lasting guardrail to my own thinking being the final analysis. I don't feel like I've lost privacy, or will. I feel like my life more enriched because I'm part of this community, someone can challenge me. Yeah, you're not doing well, Joe. Let's say we left off, you had this 2008. You're on a board. It's a nonprofit, it's, it's filling the gaps in funding, say, for housing and needs of people that are now in the drug court getting a chance to complete a program that's clinical, but it's being administered by the court. If they complete it, they can get their criminal record expunged. You're a part of a board that's fill in the gaps of certain other needs, that could help this experience for that person who might not have the resources to fill in the gaps from county funding. Having fundraisers, you have a weekend retreat. And in this retreat, the idea of the recovery bank is born.
Attorney Frank Bolock 22:01
How would you decide? It was the idea of we have to intensify peer to peer connections? How are we going to do that peer peer to peer connections? You know, where are we going to have a center where we're going to call it the recovery dot that? Yeah, that was it was the idea of connection. Because really, in my own experience, in the experience of the other people on on my board that are in recovery, it was finally the ability to connect with somebody else that helped us in our recovery. Many times, I didn't want to be connected, I want to isolate. But I had people I mentioned Nick and Leo and 10 other people, yeah, who would show up on my doorstep and would say, Let's go we're doing this. And somewhere along the way, instead of them dragging me kicking and screaming, it was like, Oh, this is okay. Like, I'm, I'm part of something
Joe Van Wie 23:00
here, wake up. Yeah, you kind of wake up, I've feel that way.
Attorney Frank Bolock 23:04
And that really helped me. And as time went on, I was seeing less and less of that, obviously, in people because the pace of life, you know, just really sped up. And so you spend less time lost and thought you're actually you're busy. So is everybody else? The world is spinning faster? Where were we could all these methods of communicating but that people were being less and less connected? And yeah, so we were we were saying, look, we got to be able to get more FaceTime with people slowed down a little bit, you know, and that was kind of what we talked about. And then, you know, we had the fundraiser and then I had an opportunity to submit a proposal to Community Care Behavioral Health, which is a local entity in their
Joe Van Wie 23:56
large. Annually, they distribute, I would you know, somewhere up to two to $300 million in clinical mental health services. And a bulk is a portion of that drug and alcohol treatment for Lackawanna Luzerne County with 36 counties. So this organization, you this is who you're proposing this peer to peer.
Attorney Frank Bolock 24:19
Yes, they have they Community Care Behavioral Health CCB ah, had accumulated a fund from savings that they had accumulated because of what they do there the game theory job, behavioral health, Jim Gavin, Tina y Dean, their staff, and they had their awesome idea of which the idea of a peer community recovery Resource Center was starting to crop up in other parts of the country. Philadelphia
Joe Van Wie 24:51
Bucks County had them and they wanted a Yeah, it was, you know, just just a little footnote that I that idea as I got articulate to it. It was data driven. Yeah. And it was data driven by talking to addicts from the bottom of late stage addiction, homeless, destitute, no sources, to middle class working insurance, alcoholism, you know, maybe, you know, the first stage of addiction. But the message was clear what you're saying, disconnection. Where can we and peer to peer being? What Why is that distinct? Peer to Peer is no power. We're on the level. I'm you. You're you're me. But guess what?
Attorney Frank Bolock 25:34
something's changed for me. Can I share that with you? If you don't want it? We're not selling cars, right? Yeah. And so, you know, of course, that's not a particularly novel idea. It is actually the fundamental idea of Alcoholics Anonymous, one alcoholic helping the other. 35 When AAA was founded, that's, that was the main point and continues to be. So so we just thought we got to develop this. We got to amp this up in Community Care Behavioral Health made that possible for us. That's awesome. We began a search for a location where are we going to do this? What
Joe Van Wie 26:18
year are we at now it is 2018. So we you had a retreat, in May 2018, develops to proposal, let's get a place. And let's let's make these programs that are starting to be kicked around in all these discussions, peer to peer Career Services. So this started now you're looking for a place
Attorney Frank Bolock 26:37
like RiverPlace. We're also traveling down to Philadelphia to Bucks County, to their recovery support centers, looking at what they're doing. We excited we're seeing tremendous, and, you know, there's a fabulous recovery support center in North Philadelphia that we visited. There's one in Bucks County, they're both operated by the same entity, but they're so different, because their communities are so different. But we took a little bit from each of those. We read tremendous amounts of materials about other success stories. Connecticut, Massachusetts, where they had centers, and then we we had the benefit of a consultant, Dr. Herbert, who had been really involved in the development of that recovery communities in southeastern Pennsylvania who kind of helped us along
Joe Van Wie 27:33
and they're not cookie cutter, the intelligence is there tailored. It's the community center.
Attorney Frank Bolock 27:39
Everyone's a little different. Yeah. So. So we saw we started looking around for space, and we thought we had a place and that didn't work out. So we kind of stumbled upon what was the former third national, their national bands 120 Wyoming Avenue. Coincidentally, at one point, I had a law office in this building. You did? I did? I didn't know that. Yeah. Oh, that's crazy. Yeah. So that building where even where a law office had been, had been vacant at that point for about eight or nine years, the bank hadn't used the facility in 30 years. So years, but the properties very well preserved. There's a jewelry store. Yes. Levy jewelers, it's been there throughout everything. Still there. Anyhow, we we we met with John Bass illega was the was the owner of the property and good visions for Yeah, he's a visionary. Talk to him about what it is we're looking to do and how much space we're gonna need. Building is a huge building. We ended up leasing 10,000 square feet in in a building that's 30,000 square feet. We were on the first and second floor of the building to develop this peer support center. Yeah, we we ended up putting in our lease arrangement and an option to purchase the building. We weren't sure how they were going to go. But we thought, well, let's let's see our goals. We have some ideas for this other space in the building, which I talked about. So so this was 2018 into 2019. We invited in a vision team comprised of many of our provider partners in the community who had worked with treatment court advocacy over the years, outpatient facilities, inpatient facilities, other people in the recovering community come together. We're sitting in this space at 120 Wyoming Avenue, and we're talking about what are we going to call this place and when there's a bunch of different names that we're coming up with. And somebody says, Well, gee, we're in a bank. Why don't we call it the recovery bank? It's a great thing. Yeah, it's a bank that so so the we we everybody says that's it recovery bank. And then somebody says well, and the tagline could be where we make the right change. Yeah, no so, so it just kind of there that's a good idea is universal, it just gels. So we get the space ready, you know, all volunteers I mean the community pulls together we go in, we paint the place, clean it up, paint painted, get it all puts, I was I got roped in I put a couple chairs together
and, and then developed programming and all the advice we got was, look, just focus on focus on the programming, do everything you can to get people in here, make it accessible. Information for families, information for the community. Yeah, recovery skills, life skills, fun
Joe Van Wie 31:01
2019, momentum, vision, a lot of people gelling and, you know, having a collaboration which is hard in itself, even to help other people to collaborate. Not everyone has the same ideas. This is gelling, big, big changes. So you're leasing,
Attorney Frank Bolock 31:18
releasing, things are going great guns. We're moving along through 2019 I mean, really, hundreds of people 1000s of people through and when we're doing programming, everything from typical was exciting recovery meetings, and we acknowledge and honor all pathways to recovery. So we have smart recovery. Celebrate Recovery a NA,
Joe Van Wie 31:42
I saw Dharma and refuge material there. Yeah, that's that's picking up. I've enjoyed it. I've gone online. I really liked it. Frank helped me meditate. Yeah. We do meditation. We do yoga, hockey puncture. I've done yoga down there. Yeah. I've been to a cooking class. That's one of our most, you have a book signing tonight. This will air after for Tony Quinn. And it's active things are happening. It looks beautiful. But this is pre pandemic.
Attorney Frank Bolock 32:15
Yeah. So we we are moving along. And, you know, in 2019, you know, the other thing we tried to do is reduce stigma. So through the recovery bank treatment court Advocacy Center and all of our peer providers who are on this vision team, we conduct the first ever recovery walk in Lackawanna County. Yeah. That's September of 2019. Yeah, I think we had 450 people. It was the pictures I wasn't able to attend. And, you know,
Joe Van Wie 32:46
I was just getting back into my mind. I was coming down. I was still drinking. And I wanted to help because it's my community. And I'm just nuts right now.
Attorney Frank Bolock 32:56
But it was exciting. Very exciting. It was great. What we need it great. We're television coverage, all kinds of coverage. We had the script and show mobiola. Place close the street down. Fire Department and police department helped us a block the streets.
Joe Van Wie 33:15
Same Street in the 70s. You probably stumbled up and day was pirates town. You're in front of a recovery brain bank. Could you ever dream that this was the life that was coming for you?
Attorney Frank Bolock 33:28
Absolutely amazing. So that's September, you know, we have a couple other projects we're dealing with. And then of course, COVID hits, and it really put us brag to what we were doing.
Joe Van Wie 33:42
So that's March Yeah, march COVID. Second, third week, it starts to shut down tap in two weeks later. Yeah. What what are you seeing? Are you are you taking this month by month? Do you have no idea at this point? What this is looking like it's a years ahead of us. But what did it look like? May? April, May I remember everything shut down?
Attorney Frank Bolock 34:06
Was this scary? It was very scary. And of course, you know, we're trying to be optimistic. Well, this is going to end soon. But you know, one day goes to the next week to the month. We're closed like everybody from March until June. Yeah. How are we going to help people? So what we did was we switched to trying to do meetings and one on one contacts virtually Yeah, I didn't know anything about zoom numbers. Nobody. But myself and their staff got really familiar with that. And we were able to through with telephone and those virtual, just want to pause real quick. So this is happening, but you have staff. So that's the one thing we mentioned. So when this pandemic broke out, you're in full swing momentum is happening to the full vision that you you want it for this place. Do you have a staff that's unique though there's it's the first time.
You know, it's a new CRS programs and it's a certified recovery specialist. We talked about this on the program before but this is a peer to peer qualification that gives you a standard of ethics practice of what can be where you are as a paraprofessional, you're not a therapist, but you could meet people where they're at. Most of the staff at this time have that certification, right?
Yes. So we didn't have a lot of paid staff. We were really populated with a lot of volunteers. Yeah. But we did have some some certified recovery specialist three, actually, I decided I better take the training. So I did in the summer of 2019, and a few other things going on. But I did take the training, and it's totally great. But I thought, Gee, I know everything. What could they possibly tell me, but they really did. I'll be down in the fall to take it up the recovery. They're coming down. Right, right. So yeah, so we had staff and our staff on with us, our volunteers hung with us. And we were able to, to in June of 2020, to reopen on a very limited basis. But we really knew that it was essential that we get back to live programming. Yeah, we needed. So we're hurt, you know, paint a background. Just locally. I was getting calls every two weeks. I'm sober a year now.
Joe Van Wie 36:35
My life's changing, my mind is coming back. I'm getting calls guys, I was just getting sober with that we're good for nine months, they're gone. They're gone. And you're hearing that a lot more recovery. Banks closed no in person contact zoom. It was dark. It's not we're not being dramatic. It was horrible. Yeah.
Attorney Frank Bolock 36:54
You know, zoom in the phone helped. Yes. And there, there definitely were a lifeline. But it was not the same. And so we our vision team, our board got together our staff and we need to really develop our COVID protocols here, make it safe for people and but get people in here face to face. And so we were able to do that we had we one of the things we do at the recovery bank is we have a food pantry. We partner with Wineburg Food Bank, and we have a huge of food drive in in June and June kind of get us back up and go. So just to take a little want to put that under a microscope. I
Joe Van Wie 37:50
you know I have the anxiety anyone else's Sharon. I did not want to drink I'm starting to feel sober again. But this extra increase of that we're all feeling from COVID I haven't really we haven't ventured out outside of our neighborhood walks. This happens a food. Margie calls me Margie Durkin, and I went down there and picked up a couple other guys and we're handing out food. Wyoming and just that experience of doing something that I couldn't believe how was our house but the cars were lined up down the street. People were just opening their trucks. Were putting sweet potatoes good food, like healthy food very.
Attorney Frank Bolock 38:31
I felt alive. And I was like, Holy God, I hadn't been around anyone in person. Yeah, the protocols were wearing masks going in and out of the building.
Joe Van Wie 38:43
It was awesome. I felt like oh my god, this is great. This is our recovery community. But that was hubbed because you started the recovery bank we had a place to do that from
Attorney Frank Bolock 38:56
yeah it and and so that day we had 650 people that we serve but we had so many of our volunteers come back and have that same experience like Oh, life is life is here. And so with that, you know we started to build back our fermentum and programming and very carefully though we have had very strict COVID protocols sure that you know we sanitize the place we got lots of help with that Scranton area foundation, you know gave us financial assistance to help with the you know the constant sanitizing of the of the property. We got plexiglass screens all over the place. Masking social distancing, taking temperatures having people sign in, but it you adapt it quickly adapted and people you know struggled with it a little bit but but you know, we said look, we want to stay off and we don't want to have it outbreak. Yeah, people understood
Joe Van Wie 40:01
that in you know, you have older volunteers, people at risk that, you know, have compromised immune systems. Yeah. Everyone kind of just played ball it didn't matter. Right left politics was always left at the door there. I've been in that room with all types of people. And we were talking about one thing. Recovery.
Attorney Frank Bolock 40:18
Yeah. Yeah. And, and it really that's, that's the bottom line. We don't do treatment in the clinical sense. We don't do that. We do peer to peer to peer to peer, we try to help people navigate their way through our wonderful recovery system in our in our county.
Joe Van Wie 40:39
Let's just, I just want to take a look. Right today, like you're adding all that in peer to peer, what does that mean? Well, so you, you're a place to facilitate and have meanings. You have CRS services, CRS is can help people get in contact with not only Medicaid, maybe some career services, you have access to a computer lab, you have someone to talk to. You have food, you have the food drives, you've you've you've had diaper drives, for mothers and females, single females that need a safe, protected place to discuss and then you have yoga, acupuncture, cooking classes, cooking and recovery, that that class was so intelligent and thoughtful. It wasn't just here's the turning on the stove. What nutrition is for recovery, how can you affect mood, it was amazing. I sat there because my wife was upstairs taking Helga rose, I don't know what it is about that bank, and what you did. But when I'm there, you don't want to leave because there's an invisible magnetism to this is who I am. This is this, this is something that needs to stay here, like as a institution that you started, what what from today, now that you're kind of fully operational? What is the future? Like, what what do you want to happen from people in Lackawanna County to keep this, this vision?
Attorney Frank Bolock 42:11
So I think the, for us, the idea is just keep our eye on the ball of connection and recovery is not going to change, you know, we may add a program here or do something there. But but really, that's it, we don't want to deviate. Like there's so many other things we could do. And, you know, the opioid epidemic and prevention, and treatment, all stuff that, you know, we know about, and we can refer to it and work with partners, but our focus is on recovery. If you're interested in recovery, we can help you know certified recovery specialist all have to develop a book of volunteers, when people are in recovery, to connect them with the people that are coming. And that's what we do. Our programming is designed to help that
Joe Van Wie 42:59
this kind of lateral but the same Do you Do you ever get outreach from family family members? Maybe they want to just exploring around there people who are not recovery but may have a concern? Does that happen at
Attorney Frank Bolock 43:13
all? Sure. So you know, we do have Al Anon meetings do have a codependency track. We do have a meeting once a week, adult children of alcoholics. And we also have a community and family education program. That's once a month. And it has been pretty much virtual. Since June up until just recently, now we're starting to invite people back into what
Joe Van Wie 43:42
is that do like invite them into the language of not only what the disorder model is, but what treatment language would be to start to,
Attorney Frank Bolock 43:51
or just, you know, we'll invite in our provider partners to talk about their program. So okay, in May, of the people from outreach Community Center are going to come and talk about all of their programming that they have for parenting and families and, and so they're going to present in June, Tony Quinn, who's our who's our my friend and on our treatment court advocacy, yep, since 2008. He has written this book, and he's going to present in on June 16. And it's
Joe Van Wie 44:23
I just pushed that for you, Frank. He was on the podcast, he came out yesterday. But on all the attachments that you can go down, he dropped cases books off, he'll be doing a q&a and the book will always be a resource there from from a great friend of recovery and really, really thoughtful book that drops the veil. No cliches. What's the problem with alcoholics when they're not drinking? It's it's our relationships are into how we connect again with people.
Attorney Frank Bolock 44:53
And so Tony's he's actually going to present what to what we thought was going to be a small group tonight, that there's Now 3132 people that are gonna be
Joe Van Wie 45:02
more people are just gonna show up, you're gonna be gonna be mobbed. So, and then First Fridays, which is an institution in Scranton, and I think, you know, it was a renaissance. I love First Friday. And my office used to be downtown and partake, what is your role? How do you how do you participate in the non recovery community? How do you get involved in First Fridays, so
Attorney Frank Bolock 45:24
we, we, pre COVID. And coming out of COVID, we participate, we have wonderful artwork in our facility, some done by our people in recovery in our studio, some by friends of ours, Ellen Lavell, and her friends. Yeah, I've seen her allow us to display their art. And then you know, I'm in a jazz, music, blues, all kinds of music fans, so I lean on my friends to come in before we did in April was our actual return to First Friday and merchants of groove came online. Online did a great job too. He's great was so such energy. And tomorrow night, young Burgo. Yeah. Something alternative. Yeah. So we have food, we have music, we have art. And we invite the community in. And you find people wonder like, oh, yeah, we're night to success. Yeah, we're on the map. People are coming in. We asked them to leave their red party cups outside. Yeah, absolutely.
Joe Van Wie 46:36
But what's the reaction? And just out of curiosity, like as, say a Scranton native walks in? has no idea what's a recovery? Like they might even consider it's a bank for people in recovery. Yeah. Do you? Are you at fielding a lot of questions and educating people that, hey, we know we're here. These
Attorney Frank Bolock 46:53
people are like, well, this is too nice to be what we thought they think
we should be. And they're sharing like a rotten apple basement with a trench coat on or something. But places that we've had people say, people in recovery, saying, gee, this is actually too nice. Trouble, it's, but we believe we keep it very clean, very safe. We keep it very nice. We respect our property. And the end result is so does everybody else has been there?
Joe Van Wie 47:25
Yeah, well, the good thing about recovery, it's not the place, if you hang out there long enough, you'll realize you can feel comfortable anywhere.
Attorney Frank Bolock 47:33
It's a horrible feeling. But I want to go back real quick art. You said art, you have an art studio, right? We have an art studio, there's art classes. There's art classes. So what do they cost? So they're free, all of our programming is free. It's free. We're grant funded. All of its free. We have collaborations with Marywood University and with the University of Scranton, the right center has an art therapy programs. So their art therapy students or art therapy staff, come and provide classes. For anybody really, and it's free. Yeah. Now, does someone have to be in recovery today? No, no, no. So, you know, of course, most of the people that are there are in recovery course. But, you know, we think that, you know, art, visual art, music, all that stuff helps
Joe Van Wie 48:30
it heal. You're alive again. Yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, I know, the end of addiction. It's not a real adventure. It's pretty much the same. It's distress, I don't know, the adventure of sobriety all the time. And a lot of it involved me going down that June. It woke me up out of the pandemic. That's the first time I felt all right after the pandemic was being in the recovery bank. Looking around, there's 12 People stacking sweet potatoes, food and proteins and I'm thinking we're good.
Attorney Frank Bolock 49:03
Maybe we'll be alright. pallets of food delivered and good. Excellent. Yeah, quality food, and we were able to distribute that. So we still have our food pantry and we still do our food drives. Yeah. So Frank,
Joe Van Wie 49:21
the recovery bank, after a long career as an attorney and advocate for recovery. Did you ever think, like life would be this fulfilling?
Attorney Frank Bolock 49:34
It's it is pretty amazing. You know, and I still am happy to say, after 43 years, I'm still practicing law. Yes. Very involved in my practice. And, you know, but but the opportunity to be part of treatment court Advocacy Center, the recovery bank, I mentioned you know, we're looking at we ended up purchasing the building, by the way. Oh, to get me to get to the we purchased the building in April. That's only 21. You know, our board said, Look, we use that space, it's vacant, how are we going to pay for it and workout? We, with our friends from Fidelity bank are able to obtain a mortgage. They're great. Yeah. And so we are in the process now of kind of renovating the space. And our plan is to develop the third and fourth floor. It's about 20,000 square feet into transitional housing for women, women with children in the court system. So you are
Joe Van Wie 50:34
meeting an unbelievable need. And I think that could sustain that institution there for decades to come. I'm glad you said that. I did not know that. And, you know, that is the need that in, you know, we're seeing that need bypassed a lot of times because of, you know, a great industry that came up to help us drug and alcohol treatment. But you're seeing real niche niches now. From luxury treatment to this and that and one need that is we we need across the country is women safe place to live Medicare, Medicaid?
Attorney Frank Bolock 51:10
Oh, that is great. So that so the transitional housing space, it's not going to be the work release center? No, it's a safe space. Women, with their children can live in these apartments that we're going to create and receive parenting support right there in the building. And they come downstairs to get recovery skills at the recovery bank. We can lock out the the the influences that kind of Yeah, you know, sack them before they can get their feet on the ground. And because that's been our challenge, even though we treatment court advocacy have been able to help with rent and financing out in the community. It it's just just because of abuse of spouses and boyfriends and drug dealing. They don't, they don't they don't really get a fair shake. So we think this is is going to fill a need, as you say
it's, it's what enlightenment and civilized life looks like. You know, there's always this gilded age. The way I grew up and I could only make an assumption for you is what we hear about what was the great time of Scranton, Well, wasn't that great? There was industry but there was an entire mile long red light district distress needs to be met. And here to see Scranton, I see enlightenment civilization. And I'm proud to have that recovery Bank Live here to see this vision come true. I'd love to have you back and talk more maybe we'll do what do maybe alive down there love to do it. So that's it. We'll come into your space. Yeah, I was see our new space as I haven't been down upstairs. I'll be down tomorrow for the recovery thing but let's chat again because this is an asset. Thank you so much for for for doing this and allowing me to come on here, man. Thanks Frank like it
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