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Sun Gazette: Celebration Lauds 50 Years of Service to Those With Addiction Problems Print


Created:  October 10  2012  11:45AM



Fifty years after it began life as a program to help Arlington men defeat alcoholism, Phoenix Houses of the Mid-Atlantic celebrated its first half-century with a gala that brought out 350 guests and raised more than $600,000 in support of a wide array of services throughout the region.

The organization, known for much of its more recent history as Vanguard Services Unlimited, hosted the event Sept. 29 at the Marriott Capital View Renaissance Hotel in Crystal City.

Throughout the changes of a half-century, “we have never lost sight of our mission: putting the client and their needs first,” said Deborah Simpson Taylor, senior vice president and regional director of Phoenix Houses of the Mid-Atlantic.

The event was organized by co-chairs Suzie Buck and Terry Holmes, who were supported by a committee of 25 women. The event included period music, a video reviewing the organization’s history and the presentation of a General Assembly proclamation.

“The programs offered by Phoenix House save lives,” said Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th), who read the legislative proclamation. “We know that, for people who abuse substances, treatment works and recovery is possible.”

The organization was founded in the basement of Walker Chapel Church in 1962, with a founding roster that included Dr. Joseph Kline, Dr. Lucas Blevins and Larry Underwood. Its original name was Alcoholics Rehabilitation Inc.

That name changed in 1985 to Vanguard, to reflect the expansion of addiction-treatment services beyond alcoholism. In 2010, Vanguard affiliated with the Phoenix House Foundation, the nation’s largest non-profit substance-abuse-treatment organization.

Major contributors and sponsors of the anniversary celebration included Hitt Contracting, Anybill, Virginia Commerce Bank, National Capital Bank of Washington and United Bank.