A Chat with Sam Krause
This month we had a chance to speak with Sam Krause, Women’s Admissions Coordinator for our Branson Recovery Center. We found Sam in her well-organized and thoughtfully appointed office. The walls are decorated with modern, monochromatic abstract art. Before the coronavirus pandemic her office would have been as busy as Grand Central Station, with house managers and clients constantly coming and going. On the day of our visit, however, we are undisturbed by visitors and everything looks neat and clean. Only a single, physical vestige is left of once great activity: a miniature Pacman arcade sitting on the client side of her desk. The control stick is completely worn out; it appears to have been broken off and reattached so many times that it now stands askew. One has to tilt their gaze just to make it appear vertical.
The pandemic doesn’t prevent people from finding Sam, mind you. Our hour-long interview was abbreviated by multiple phone calls. She proved to be a worthy multitasker – retrieving, reviewing, and discussing files while keeping a phone balanced at her ear. We would excuse ourselves for these calls. When we returned she would pick right back up with her answer to our previous question almost as if we’d never left. We got the definite impression that Sam is still in high demand even though the pandemic has required CORE to temporarily restrict general foot traffic by clients and the public in that location.
Sam’s job with CORE requires her to wear many hats. For potential clients she provides information about CORE, answers questions, assists in the completion of required paperwork, and admits people to the program. It’s a full time job by itself, but her responsibilities aren’t limited to this. She also has oversight responsibilities with house managers and clients, making sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing in the program. “Pretty much, my job requires me to do whatever I’m asked to do, really,” she laughs.
Sam is a light-hearted soul who has a knack for finding humor in just about anything. When asked about life before recovery, she enthusiastically launches into what sounds like the plot of a William Faulkner novel. The plot is heavy with absurdity and sarcasm as she goes from one calamity to the next. Each mishap becomes progressively more preposterous (and funny). The irony is not lost on us. Anyone who’s been through the wringer will appreciate her testimony. Her willingness to talk about it reflects the fact that she is recovered. As the Big Book says, we don’t regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. She sees where her personal story might benefit others, and she gives her testimony while teaching our Common Solution Recovery (CSR) classes.
When she approaches the end of her story, however, Sam becomes noticeably more thoughtful. By now her personal pronoun has switched from “me” to “we,” because she had started running with Buddy Krause during her addiction. Today she and Buddy are married, and Buddy is the valued on-site manager at our Springfield location. Once their paths converged, she can’t tell her story without him. Her tone becomes more serious as she reflects upon just how far down the scale they actually had gone in their addictions. Her speech and cadence are careful, even deliberate; she wants to share every important detail.
To summarize, she and Buddy had been on a years-long spree with opiates, couch hopping and living at various places. Some AA sponsors rented them a place to live but eventually told them they had to leave. “We were just going through the motions. We’d show up to meetings but were never clean. We were still using something.” They tried detoxes and treatment centers. They eventually burned every bridge they crossed. Out of options, they would soon be living in a car. Sam was done, ready for it all to be over:
I felt that the hole was so big that I’d dug that there was no getting out of it. Like it seemed way too difficult to do. I’d never been that far down. I was at rock bottom. I felt hopeless. …I really felt like it would be better if I were dead. Every shot I’d get, I hoped that it would kill me, that I just wouldn’t wake up. Because trying to stay well was too hard. When it gets to the point you have to steal stuff, you start lying to the people who love you, then, I’m out.
A last ditch call to CORE’s Kevin Hunt was the turning point. It probably saved their lives.
And a good thing, too, as Sam’s demeanor noticeably perks up. She returns to the happy, playful individual who greeted us earlier in the hour and relates a humorous account about how they arrived to the bus stop only to find that there was no Branson bus to catch.
At CORE Sam worked the 12 Step program and started living in the solution. She attributes that to taking personal responsibility. Before that, “I was a spoiled little brat,” she laughs, “I’m the youngest of four and never wanted for anything.” Sam is particularly grateful to her parents for their persistence in impressing upon her the importance of setting personal standards and living by those standards. Once she held herself accountable for figuring out her own life, Sam became willing to do what was necessary to work the program. “I got my life in order,” she says, while describing various facets of personal growth during her first year as proof of her statement.
Her relationship with God really took off during her second year in the program as a house manager. Before that, “spiritually, I’m not yet where I wanted to be,” she says. Being thrust into house leadership with nine other women opened her eyes to the importance of relying on God. The women under Sam’s direction care didn’t share her background or necessarily think the same way that she did. An authoritarian approach was not going to work, so Sam turned to God for help. “Once I started relying on God to help me run this house and to help these girls then things started happening.” That was seven years ago. Sam has worked for CORE in some capacity ever since.
Sam also is an original member of our Second Mile group, comprised of persons who have commenced CORE’s year-long recovery program. They are a benevolent group committed to charitable works and to promoting personal growth, accountability and spirituality. Sam is thankful for the Second Mile for helping her “get out of self” and become the person she wanted and needed to become. The Second Mile also helped Sam and Buddy in their financial recovery efforts. They married on July 1, 2014, and eventually bought a house that they completely remodeled and turned into a home. They’ve done a beautiful job with it and enjoy welcoming family to stay with them for extended periods. Friends visit too, and Sam also hosts a women’s Bible study for a group comprised of current and former CORE house managers.
Sam is thankful for the many blessings in her life today. One of her greatest joys is seeing her women in CORE work the 12 Steps:
It’s an awesome thing to witness the transformations at commencement, to see these women who came in here broken, thinking they were never going to see their children again, and a year later the kids are at their commencement – just seeing those relationships with their families that they’re rebuilding.
Sam considers herself a miracle. She found deliverance from a hopeless condition by taking refuge in the safety of God’s arms. Today, she is a joyful person, reflecting the presence of God in her heart. She attributes every good thing to Him. “I’m a totally different person,” she says, “I know it’s all through God.“
CORE is thankful for Sam’s dedicated service and looks forward to our continued association with her for many years to come!