by Peter Twitchell
This is Peter Adams Twitchell. I don’t mind saying I was a substance abuse counselor for 17 years, mainly for inmates in the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center and Phillips treatment facility named after Francis Phillips whom I worked with closely in the beginning because he believed in me.
Francis Phillips always encouraged me to reach my full potential, which I’m happy to say I did as a counselor. I know this for fact because the men and women I worked with in treatment and in their incarceration told me I helped them.
Two of them – a woman and a man who are themselves Elders now tell me, “Peter, I’m still sober,” when we see each other. I always remind them I was there put in your life to support you and you did all the work, you chose to become alcohol-free as well as drug-free and worked for a new life, and to realize your full potential as a sober person and I thank them.
Now present day and year 2021 into the year of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Some people tell me they think a gold mine in our region of Alaska is wrong and why I support it? That is their right. I always tell them a gold mine, namely Donlin Gold, will provide our people an economic base. I do this based on what the young men and women used to tell me constantly when they were processing their feelings while incarcerated.
When in treatment in a battle with booze and drugs I heard it over and over again. These are their words the way I heard them: “There’s no opportunities out in the village Alaska and jobs are scarce. People need to feel good about themselves, being productive providers for their families, being able to buy commodities like motors and necessities. There’s hardly anything to do except play bingo and drink in the village.”
These words always touched me as a young substance-abuse counselor. I felt that these young men and women incarcerated in treatment were coming to the core of their true feelings and their awareness is up in their troubled lives.
While I feel blessed to be 71 years old today I feel isolated and alone at times. Men and women I helped and supported in their lives and struggles raise me back up!!!
Back into the light in a dark world. Together we all survive to see another sunrise and I thank God for our blessings to have a paycheck to take home to care for each other for others because all we have is today. We don’t know what the future holds as far as the virus, or jobs, all we have is now. Make it count. I’m not going to try to live in the future because I really can’t, all I have is this moment. Thank you, Quyana Tamarpeci!!!