Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Jim Stansberry, executive director of Project Ninety, right, laughs with friends after an awards ceremony that celebrated his work in drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Jim Stansberry, executive director of Project Ninety, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in San Mateo, received recognition for his longtime work to help others fight substance abuse.
The county health services division presented Stansberry, 76, with the David Lewis Award this past week, bringing a crowd of those he’s helped over the years, his friends, family and community members. The award is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to substance abuse recovery through successful programs, community education, stigma reduction or client advocacy. Lewis, an educator and leader in the field of substance abuse recovery and prisoner rehabilitation, was murdered outside Hillsdale Shopping Center in 2010.
Stansberry, one of the co-founders of Project Ninety, became executive director of the organization July 1, 1989. Since its founding more than 40 years ago, more than 20,000 people have walked through the doors of organization.
Lewis, who went through the Project Ninety program, is one of its success stories.
“The aim of everything is recovery,” Stansberry said. “To correct their own lives and assist others. Addiction affects the addict’s life, the community and the addict’s family’s lives.”
He notes that addiction affects five to 10 other people’s lives other than his or her own.
Stansberry himself dealt with his own alcoholism when he lived in New York years ago. He was arrested a few times as a result of being intoxicated and found himself living on the streets. From there, he met the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and began recovery work there, as there weren’t many established programs at the time.
What are some of the challenges that face Project Ninety?
“We deal with actual addiction,” Stansberry said. “Then there’s running the organization, having the financing and making sure we’re financially sound. These are two separate types of challenges.”
At the moment, the nonprofit is trying to decipher changes with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“We believe it will draw more people since more people will be able to get services,” Stansberry said. “There’s lots of people on our waiting list and we hope it will enable other people with addictions to come in.”
What does the future hold for Project Ninety?
“I want to keep what’s already working and keep the same principles,” he said. “We’d also like to make it available to more people.”
He has seen his share of success stories, but there are also those who slip away.
“You learn you don’t have control,” Stansberry said. “The drugs are sometimes stronger and it’s a strong thing to change. Even for those who relapse — you’ll hope they find their way down the road and that you’ve planted a seed they’ll utilize at a later time.”
He has been married to his wife Donna for 23 years and has two stepchildren, Grant and Shane.
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