I was in my first-year recovery when I met Andrew Burki, founder and CEO of Life of Purpose. I attended a recovery spring break event in South Florida with a bunch of students from Penn State and Ohio State. I remember Andrew being very excited because Life of Purpose had just gotten the famous Mercedes Sprinter vans. He drove us everywhere, took us out to dinner, and made sure that we played paintball against Life of Purpose clients and interacted with them as much as possible. I didn’t really understand his motives at the time. Andrew explained to all of the clients what our majors were and how long we had been in recovery. He introduced each of us to at least one or two clients who had similar stories, teeing up a conversation and walking away.
Out of the about sixty people I went to rehab with, I think I am the only one who went right back to college. Out of all the people I stayed in contact with, I was the only one who stayed drug and alcohol-free.
I was amazed at the way Andrew interacted with all of the clients. My experience in treatment was much different. I didn’t go to a Life of Purpose. I was told not to go back to school. I felt like I was a number moving through a system. Out of the about sixty people I went to rehab with, I think I am the only one who went right back to college. Out of all the people I stayed in contact with, I was the only one who stayed drug and alcohol-free. There was no inspiration, treatment was punishment. We were a group of failures who might have the privilege to one day interact with the rest of society and be treated as a near equal. If it weren’t for the Collegiate Recovery Community at Penn State, I don’t think I would have maintained my recovery.
Unfortunately my experience was not unique. I found out later that it was not extreme in comparison to the experience others had, others like Andrew. His resentments and bad experiences with poor treatment led him to start Life of Purpose. He understands that recovery is meaningless until its given meaning. People with substance use disorders need a reason to pursue recovery. They need to be inspired, empowered, encouraged. Andrew started Life of Purpose to do just that.
After spring break ended, Andrew and I kept in communication. We exchanged messages every once in a while and followed each other on Facebook. By the time we met again at a Labor Day recovery event in Georgia I had started my own consulting company. I pitched Andrew on what I could do for him and Life of Purpose. After spending the long weekend together we knew that my contribution to Life of Purpose would be more than just a consulting gig. Andrew offered to hire me full time as the Director of Technology upon graduation.
I operated as a part-time as a consultant for Life of Purpose through my entire senior year of college. I made friends with the LoP team who worked alongside me, 1200 miles away. I remember flying down one weekend to meet with everyone. Andrew introduced me to the renowned Sarah Babaa and the rest of the team.
Recovery EcoSystems is an example of the dynamic, innovative attitude of Life of Purpose and Andrew Burki.
One week after graduating Penn State with degrees in Information Science and Technology and Security and Risk Analysis I was on my way to Florida. I got right to work and grew with the company. I watched as Life in Progress came to fruition, was promoted to the leadership team with Sarah, and worked on helping Texas to get open. I played Frisbee with the clients each week and led the Boca YPR chapter. We held tailgates and played paintball.
Eventually, I brought up the idea to bring Life of Purpose to South Jersey. A few months later I was flying up with Andrew to get a lay of the land and begin planning. Soon after we decided it would be best for me to move back and manage the project. Now we are just a few months out from opening and I am more excited than ever. These past two years with Life of Purpose have been amazing and I know that many more are to come.
In addition to working with Life of Purpose on the New Jersey project, I partnered with Andrew and Life of Purpose to create a tech company to provide innovative services for the dynamic technology needs of the recovery ecosystem this past January. Ironically, we decided to name the company Recovery EcoSystems. So far we have two employees and are based out of South Jersey. We have worked with numerous treatment providers and other stakeholders in the Recovery EcoSystem like lawyers and non-profits to improve their digital presence and have provided many other services such as building custom call systems, diverse enterprise integrations, mid to high-level technical support, and other custom services. Recovery EcoSystems is an example of the dynamic, innovative attitude of Life of Purpose and Andrew Burki.
Life of Purpose is more than a treatment center. It is a movement, a macro level social intervention.
Life of Purpose has given me much more than a job. I show up every day to work with passion. My co-workers are my friends. They challenge me to tap into my creativity and foster an environment for success. We don’t take no for an answer and aren’t afraid to deviate from the norm. The clients (or students as we call them) have become my friends as well. They inspire me more than anyone else. Life of Purpose is more than a treatment center. It is a movement, a macro level social intervention. Watching research offices open in Florida and Texas, having a seat at the table to discuss a million dollar gift to young people in recovery, and renting out a movie theater to watch The Force Awakens a day before premier, and being published in the Oxford Journal were all amazing events that I will never forget, but being able to see hundreds, some day thousands, of young people come in with next to no hope or resolve, find their way and get their GED, achieve undergraduate and graduate degrees, land a job they love, and witness their demeanor transform from dismal to fulfilled is unparalleled in mega-epic-awesomeness.
We have certainly managed to pack a lot into the past three years. I am excited for the years to come and can’t even predict what our 4th, 5th, 10th, and 50th birthdays will look like!
Director of Technology
Lif of Purpose Treatment