Home‎ > ‎


Teleconference during COVID-19

posted Mar 23, 2020, 10:36 AM by Karen Shan   [ updated Mar 23, 2020, 10:37 AM ]

Greetings in the time of Coronavirus:

We are being discouraged from attending group meetings to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus - so we are meeting by teleconference & video-conference. 

Based upon feedback from GROW members and organizers, we learn that those who use 'government phones' have restricted # of minutes. 

Being unable to participate in the 2-hour meetings and limited in peer-to-peer 12-step telephone conversations interferes with recovery and helping each other during stressful times. 



I urge the GROWers who feel comfortable in doing so, to contact their US Congresspersons and Senators to request additional minutes and data for 'government phones' during the virus crisis. 


Below is a letter sent [personally, not by GROW] to elected officials requesting relief from limitations on minutes for 'government phones'. Please feel free to ask me how to contact elected officials and [if you feel comfortable] call their offices about this matter of direct concern for peer-to-peer counseling groups. 

Dear Senator Duckworth/Durbin/Rep ____:
I work for a mutual-help mental health group GROW which has 12-step, peer-to-peer counseling groups throughout Illinois. 
We began meeting by teleconference when the COVID-19 crisis began but quickly learned that the members were unable to fully participate because of the limited number of minutes for their 'government phones.' 
** Can the Coronavirus Recovery Act legislation add more minutes [and data, please] to the government phones so that those suffering mental health illnesses and seeking recovery through behavior modification will be able to continue their recovery?
Thank you.


The House and Senate are considering a $1 trillion Coronavirus Recovery Act proposal this week.

We need to assure that this Bill includes funds for the recovery of private, not-for-profit, and public behavioral health entities that already are suffering the catastrophic effects of shelter in place and social distancing. We don’t want behavioral health entities left out of this Bill.

Also, we need to assure that telephone services can be reimbursed through Medicaid, Medicate, and private insurance plans as part of the response to the National Emergency. Telephonic contact between provider and client should be reimbursable directly without the need for waivers, exceptions, etc.

Please act today. Call your Senators and Representative today and demand these actions.


Christopher Stohr, PhD

National Coordinator/Illinois Coordinator

GROW In America/ GROW In Illinois

P.O. Box 3667, Champaign, Illinois, 61826

217.766.4071 - personal cell, voice



Coming soon to GROW in America: Zoom GROW Groups video conferencing!

posted Feb 19, 2020, 11:35 AM by Karen Shan   [ updated Feb 20, 2020, 9:07 AM ]

GROW in America will soon launch Zoom as the new web conferencing tool for members, and staff. GROW selected Zoom for its simplicity and reliability, as well as its consistency across devices for a seamless user experience.

Zoom provides remote conferencing services using cloud computing. Also, Zoom offers communications software that combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration. It’s easy to use, and GROW thinks the  community will find it to be a more effective way to each rural areas of the country and allow members to participate if unable to make it to groups in person.

In the coming weeks, GROW will provide more information about the Zoom deployment plan.

If you have any questions, please contact Karen Shan at 217-390-2583 or karen.shan@growinamerica.org.

The Surest Way To Make A Task Seem Impossible Is To Keep On Putting It Off

posted Feb 20, 2017, 8:10 AM by Karen Shan


This wisdom seems like it could only be talking about procrastination, but it stands to reason: "what are we procrastinating about?"

Are we procrastinating against doing the good ordinary thing that repels us?  Are we telling ourselves I am too anxious, it will feel strange, I just can't do it today, maybe I'll do it tomorrow?

When we do this, the next time we are faced with the good ordinary thing it will seem impossible.  Our feelings won't lessen, they will get worse!

 However, procrastination can be simple too. Having to write on this topic, I could say I don't feel like writing right now, maybe I will do it tonight or tomorrow?  However, tonight after work it will seem that much harder to sit down to do some writing.  Tomorrow, I will feel rushed to finish on time and will do a sloppy job.

 Maybe we admitted we were inadequate or maladjusted to life but we are not ready to co-operate with help?  As we get older, our inadequacies and maladjustments will just become more entrenched the longer we wait to do something about them and co-operate with help.  We will tell ourselves later on in life that is "seems impossible" because we have lived with them for so long.

 Maybe also we are procrastinating to fully surrender to God?  We may feel like we still can do it alone? Often, one must hit their lowest points in life to fully surrender to God or one must go through trials and tribulations that they just cannot face on their own.  However, just because this is what normally happens, doesn't mean we have to wait until that point.

 In the Blue Book, and page 9 "The Supreme Healer" states: "He knows me better that I know myself; He has more control over my thoughts and feelings and actions than I have myself; He loves me better than I love myself; Therefore I will trust."

 Are we letting our feelings tell us that we have to do it alone?  That we know what is best?  Remember that we are not acting alone, but co-operating with the invincible power of loving God and with trustworthy and friendly helpers... Don't you think it is about time to fully surrender your life to the perfect will of God and co-operate with the trustworthy and friendly helpers you have met in GROW?  Can you really wait to put if off for another day?

Patch Adams MD, Gesundheit Institute

posted Jul 21, 2016, 10:03 AM by Karen Shan   [ updated Feb 20, 2017, 8:07 AM ]

We would like to thank Patch Adams MD, Gesundheit Institute and School for Designing a Society, for asking us to give a lecture at their “Construct your Humanism Program” in Urbana IL on July 20.  We shared how our organization works, what problems we face, strategies and advice.

Brenda and Karen were greeted with love, hugs and enthusiasm when we walked up to the “Rainbow House”. This atmosphere continued throughout our visit. There were people from around the world (Korea, Japan, UK, Chile, México, Paraguay, etc.) who work in fields related with care (Doctors, nurses, psychologist, non-profits, social workers, parents, activist, etc.) Brenda gave her personal testimony, was asked question and thanked for her candidness.  A history of GROW was presented. Then the floor was opened, many questions were asked and responded to.

It was a wonderful way to start our day! We hope to be invited back again and continue a relationship with the Gesundheit Institute and the School for Designing a Society. 

Patch Adams  www.patchadams.org/course/medical-elective/

The School for Designing a Society www.designingasociety.net

O&R Training

posted May 19, 2016, 1:39 PM by Karen Shan   [ updated May 19, 2016, 1:41 PM ]

GROW In New Jersey held its annual Organizer and Recorder Training on May 10th through the 12th, 2016 in Ocean Grove, NJ.  Ocean Grove is a beautiful, quaint religious town on the Jersey Shore. The town was founded in 1869 as an outgrowth of the camp meeting movement and remains the longest-active camp meeting site in the United States.  We were blessed to be able to hold the training in a gorgeous Victorian Retreat House, nestled in the middle of the peaceful Ocean Grove community.


All the GROWers arrived in the early afternoon of Monday the 9th and shortly afterwards, Caroline Meehan, the State Coordinator chaired our State Program Team meeting.  John Barile was unanimously voted into the Organizer position for the Vineland NJ Day Group and so was Toya Edmeads-Wright for the Recorder position.  We are very proud to have them on board and know they will be a true asset to GROW In New Jersey.


On Tuesday May 10th, the training officially begun.  Earlier in the morning all of the GROWers were able to share a continental breakfast and continue to build those essential GROW friendships that are the backbone of the program.


Topics that were included in the training were The History and Overview of GROW, The GROW Program, The Group Method, The Role Of The Recorder, The Group Evaluation, The Role Of The Organizer and Sponsor, Leadership, The Caring and Sharing Community and of course, Friendship.  Everyone did a wonderful job presenting their topics and many questions were brought up, allowing us to have an intensive study of each topic.  All the GROWers were excited to learn the material and also to learn how to best apply it to their own groups.  All in all, it was quite a success!


Training finished on May 11th and was followed by a fun and intimate social.  Everyone brought plenty of food to share and we had a wonderful time.  There was live music performed by John Karnish, a field worker and another GROWer who shared her extraordinary talents on the violin. I should add there were also a few GROWers that joined in playing percussion on “the spoons” from the kitchen!  We were especially lucky that most of the Trenton NJ group was able to attend.  They really went out of their way to attend, since they had to drive from the other side of the state! It was a wonderful experience to have them with us and many new friendships were made.


On May 12th all of the GROWers returned to their various parts of the State.  GROW In New Jersey was able to get a group picture to commemorate this wonderful event and everyone one was able to donate some money to give a healthy tip to the staff at the retreat house to express our gratitude.  Everyone is looking forward to next year!

State Wide Social

posted Apr 21, 2016, 2:01 PM by Karen Shan

I hope everyone is as excited as I am about our upcoming social at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana Il on May14, 2016 starting at 3:00pm. GROWers and their family & friends from around the state will come to together as a Caring and Sharing Community.

 Relax in a friendly atmosphere that characterizes GROW Socials. After enjoying a meal at the park we will be “using our talents” by singing together, dancing, playing games and getting to know one another.  

“A community is a plurality of persons, united by a common understanding and hope, growing together through love and mutual help to maturity, and destined (as they firmly believe) to abundant life.”

Odd Socks Day – Hosted By GROW in Australia

posted Feb 4, 2016, 11:43 AM by Karen Shan   [ updated Feb 4, 2016, 11:44 AM ]

7th October 2016, 

Odd socks day, is a light-hearted approach to reminding people that anyone can have an odd day, and that stigma is still one of the greatest barriers to people seeking help and recovering from a mental illness. So, how you treat someone with a mental illness really does make a difference to their lives and recovery. We hope that you will pull on your odd socks, and join us in supporting this important campaign. 

Let's show our support, wear an odd pair of socks, take a photo and send it to us with a message, so we can post it on our website and Facebook. 

Donate Your Soles: GROW Shoe Drive

posted Mar 2, 2015, 12:52 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jan 21, 2016, 1:56 PM by Karen Shan ]

Help us raise funds for GROW In Illinois by donating your new or gently worn, and paired, used shoes! The Drive runs from March 1st - May 31st. Help us reach our goal of $3,000. We get $0.40 per pound of shoes, so we need your help. 


Contact your area fieldworker or call the Branch office at 1-888-741-GROW for drop off sites.

Albert Lacey

posted Nov 6, 2014, 9:23 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jan 21, 2016, 1:56 PM by Karen Shan ]

Albert Lacy (left), and Con Keogh

The first generation pioneers of our international GROW mental health movement have been gradually leaving us, first our founder, Con Keogh, in November 2011, and now Albert Lacey on November 2, 2014.  Con and Albert may have left this earth, but they have hardly left us empty-handed.  Con gifted us with a brilliant and practical mental health Program while Albert, his collaborator, left us with organizational and program structures that ensure team-work and prevent bureaucracy.  As an experienced Australian lawyer (or “barrister”), Albert also designed the legal documents which define our GROW structures and give them legitimacy.  If you wonder why we work through teams as we do, you can refer to some of our Policies and Procedures, also our By-Laws and Charter Agreements, all of which Albert designed.  As Con wrote in “GROW Comes of Age,” Albert was indeed a designer and planner for the whole of GROW, but he was also a guide, philosopher and friend to Growers everywhere.

-Carol Mussey

Chicago Recovery Conference

posted Jun 30, 2014, 12:18 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jan 21, 2016, 1:56 PM by Karen Shan ]

    Thank you, Tanya Hicks, for being a presenter at the Region One Consumer Conference. She spoke on the importance of Music & Movement.

1-10 of 12