Guiding Light launches podcast to highlight stories of recovery

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From left, Starla McDermott, development director at Guiding Light, and Phil Tower, host of the nonprofit's podcast. Courtesy Guiding Light

Downtown Grand Rapids-based Guiding Light launched a weekly podcast to share the stories of men who have found hope and a way forward along their recovery journeys.

“Casting Light: Stories of Recovery and Hope at Guiding Light” will feature current and former clients of the organization’s social service programs. It also will include conversations with individuals who are a part of clients’ journeys — including the nonprofit’s staff and board, spiritual directors, donors, parents and the employers who give them a second chance.

West Michigan radio personality Phil Tower will be the podcast’s host. The series is being created with support from Tower’s podcasting company, GrandCast Media.

“This podcast will be an engaging way to share what it’s like to be at Guiding Light today and how we’re able to create true change,” said Starla McDermott, the nonprofit’s development director. “We’re always looking for new opportunities to show the important work our donors are enabling us to do, as well as the commitment of our staff and the efforts our clients are making to transform their lives.

“We’re eager to share how we’ve transformed from being a traditional homeless shelter to a leading nonprofit offering rescue, recovery and reengagement programming that breaks the revolving-door cycle we know is prevalent in our community.”

Guiding Light said the men in its programs must express willingness, honesty, self-awareness, responsibility, vulnerability and self-compassion to create the best opportunity for lifelong success. While talking with Tower, clients will share their successes and failures in overcoming barriers, developing life skills and transitioning back into mainstream society.

“This podcast will dive into the rescue story of Guiding Light — not just from addiction and substance abuse or homelessness, but also from job loss, broken relationships and a lack of faith,” McDermott said. “In our programs, men learn about the importance of vulnerability and being honest about their past in order to heal from it. Taking part in this podcast is part of that process of boldly sharing their stories — without shame but with hope — as they learn to live life in a new way.”

A short introductory episode featuring McDermott aired July 8 and subsequent episodes will air each Thursday. The first full episode, “Bottoming out in Battle Creek,” features the story of a former client, Allen, who came to Guiding Light in June 2020 after a failed suicide attempt in his hometown of Battle Creek. He had been struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction for three decades.

Guiding Light’s podcast is available on the Captivate podcasting platform and Spotify.

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