For Cindy Keefe, the personal desperation and pain of addiction has transformed into a burning passion; a passion to help others that are struggling with addiction and to support those who have found a journey of recovery stay the course and continue to transform their lives. Now in her second decade of recovery, her passion has grown into a new mission: to bring more awareness, education and prevention to our youth, our communities and our faith based organizations.
Cindy was born in Beverly, MA to “normal” parents. Mom was teacher and Dad an engineer. Life changed drastically for her, when at the age of 7, her father passed away after a 4 year battle with MS. Cindy’s mom never remarried, and as an only child, Cindy often felt alone, different and struggled to find her “place” or to find self acceptance. Always a good student, active in school activities, Young Life and her church, Cindy went on to college with the goals of completing a pre med program, continuing to medical school and working in the field of pathology, hoping to aid in a cure for MS.
Once away at college, all of the temptations and ‘solutions’ that Cindy had been kept away from in high school were readily available. Like most kids/young adults, she began with experimentation, which led to regularly drinking, using drugs and trying more risky behaviors and lifestyles. In those vices, she thought she had found the answer to her dis-ease of feeling lost, not fitting in and needing validation. What she had really opened the door to was the disease of addiction which slowly and cunningly took over her life.
In 1998, now living in Ocean City, MD, and after 15 years of living a disposable lifestyle, running from herself, pushing away family and friends, getting 3 DWIs, losing jobs, failed attempts at returning to school, feeling suicidal, living homeless and having a miscarriage—Cindy finally hit a spiritual, emotional, physical and mental bottom. She returned home to Rochester, NY, starting an outpatient rehabilitation program, getting involved in 12 Step Programs and finding her way back to her faith and a relationship with God. In 2001, Cindy returned to Maryland for a new career and fresh start. In 2003, Cindy experienced the sudden life changing event of her mothers’ death– but did not allow that to ‘take her back out’ or as an excuse for relapse. If anything, that difficult experience and season helped solidify Cindy’s faith, commitment to recovery and service to others.
Now in her 20th year of long term recovery, Cindy has spent the last 10 years actively serving both secular 12 Step fellowships and faith based recovery programs. She mentors women, providing guidance and support in recovery and life skills and challenges. She has shared her story freely and transparently to both those in recovery and to faith based audiences not in recovery—the families and the communities that are all affected by this epidemic of addiction. In sharing the real experiences from the heart, Cindy’s story shows the hope for the hopeless, that recovery is indeed possible, and that God offers indescribable and immeasurable grace and mercy to anyone who needs it and seeks it.
For the last 10 years, Cindy has had a successful career in distribution sales. In 2015, Cindy attended the Fed Up with Addiction Rally in Washington, DC, and felt a weight placed on her heart to do more, get more involved beyond the 12 Step groups and home church recovery groups. More and more signs began to show themselves in her life as the Holy Spirit began to move. Cindy was often asked when she was going to answer the ‘call’ that many have sensed she had been given. And the answer was always, “As soon as I…..” Yet, when God moves, He moves; when He wants us to answer the phone, He lets it keep ringing until we pick it up.
Cindy finally decided to answer that “phone” while driving across the Bay Bridge one sunny, early fall day in September 2017, deciding to leave a secure career and joining both Steered Straight as Outreach Coordinator for MD/DE and the Recovery Army as Director of Faith Based Programs. What comes next for Cindy and Recovery Army, is up to God and how our faith based communities support and help us grow and share our much needed new mission, ministries and spirit led projects, such as CURE: Christians Uplifting Recovery Everywhere