Jim Fink-- Attorney helps Dawn Farm residents on road to recovery


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

   In 22 years as a police officer with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department, Jim Fink saw lives ruined through drinking, domestic violence, drug addiction, and more.
   He’s also seen rescue and redemption.
   One major force in changing lives is Dawn Farm in Ypsilanti, a residential facility helping addicts and alcoholics achieve long term recovery and rejoin the community.
   In 1973, a small program got under way in a rented farm, borrowing ideas from Alcoholics Anonymous and from a Quebec residential program.
From that little acorn grew the mighty oak Dawn Farm is today. A not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, its programs – accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) – include Residential Treatment, Sub-Acute Detoxification, Outpatient Services, Transitional Housing, Street Outreach, Jail Outreach, Women’s Transitional, and Daybreak Adolescent.
   Dawn Farm also provides regular seminars at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, to help parents and family members.
   The organization treats all addictions – alcohol, cocaine, heroin, crystal methamphetamine, prescription drugs and marijuana. It often provides hope for young addicts and alcoholics who are ready to get help, and meets the needs of more than 2,000 addicts and alcoholics each year.
   Fink, an attorney with Fink and Valvo in Ann Arbor, has been involved with Dawn Farm since 1997.
   While still working at the Sheriff’s Department, he was asked by its president, Jim Balmer, to consider joining the board.
   “I was familiar with the work of the Farm because of its work in the community and knowing addicts and alcoholics who credited the Farm with their sobriety,” says Fink, who has served as chairman of the board since 2008.
   “No one is turned away for lack of resources. While treatment is expensive and we do everything we can to control the cost, the board and staff are committed to reserving space for individuals who simply cannot afford to pay.”
   Dawn Farm is client-centered, tailoring treatment to the individual client. It aims to serve as a primary barrier remover, helping people enter the recovering community.
Significant emphasis is placed on connecting with other recovering addicts and alcoholics.
   “We believe recovery is available to individuals regardless of their history of drug abuse, and we don’t consider one addiction more difficult to address than another,” Fink says.
   “We also emphasize the importance of lifelong recovery – attending 12-step meetings, joining a community, getting a sponsor, service work, and helping others.”
   Personal accountability is crucial, expressed in many aspects of treatment. Clients are required to take significant responsibility for all areas of their lives and to participate in meaningful work.
   The 74-acre farm is the most obvious example but other programs incorporate similar approaches.
    Residents raise hormone-free chicken, pork, and grass-fed beef, a variety of fruits and vegetables, and gather eggs from free-range chickens.
   “Residents enjoy the fruits of their labors,” Fink says. “The farm also sells food in the local community, and we donate extra food to a food bank.”
   While the Farm has been “earth-friendly” for close to four decades, it’s taking a giant leap forward in its goal to become “the greenest treatment center in the world,” by installing AQUS Water Saving Devices to reuse bathroom sink greywater; utilizing well water for garden and other plantings; and fertilizing with “home grown” manure.
   Solatube lighting was installed, and a variety of other energy saving strategies adopted. Both the farmhouse and recently constructed “Community Barn” are highly energy efficient and recycling efforts at all sites have been improved.
   Dawn Farm offers a free annual workshop Education Series at the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Education Center in Ann Arbor, providing information about chemical dependency, recovery, family recovery and related issues.
It hopes to dispel myths, misinformation, secrecy, shame and stigma that prevent people from getting help and getting well. Last year, the series drew record numbers, Fink says.
   Dawn Farm also co-sponsors – with the Livingston/Washtenaw Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Consortium, and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System Mission Services – a free Tuesday evening two-part workshop series, “Teens Using Drugs: What To Know and What To Do.”
   Each year Dawn Farm holds a “Founder’s Day” to celebrate its birth – its 37th Anniversary Jamboree will be held 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 12.
   Admission and activities are free and include a silent and live auction, award ceremony, live music, a children’s tent with games, face painting, and crafts; a rock climbing wall; button making; food and beverages, and more.
   Visitors can tour the working farm, pet the animals; ride ponies, take hayrides, and visit the Gift Shop.
   The Jamboree is an annual tradition for Fink and his family.
   “Wandering through the barns, listening to music, visiting with Farm alumni who come back to volunteer and, without fail, spending money at the live and silent auctions are all things that bring us back year after year,” he says.
   “This year, I’m looking forward to bringing my granddaughter to her first Jamboree.”
   Dawn Farm is managed through a series of board committees, with active board and staff communication and collaboration in all areas, and feedback from full- and part-time staff, non-board volunteers, agency clients and the community.
   “It’s an honor to serve on the Dawn Farm Board of Trustees,” Fink says.  “I’m one of many attorneys and judges who participate on the Board and its various committees.
   “I love the Farm because it works. The staff and volunteers save lives, help restore families and give hope to people that have lost all hope.”

   Dawn Farm Facts and Stats:
For nearly four decades Dawn Farm, at 6633 Stony Creek Road in Ypsilanti, has helped addicts and alcoholics achieve long term recovery through its residential services, supportive transitional housing, outpatient treatment, sub-acute detoxification and a range of active outreach programs.
A Detox program has expanded at a new site, adding more beds and becoming the more comprehensive Spera Center (Spera is Latin for “hope”).
Dawn Farm Downtown is also new, a shorter term residential program (30 to 60 days) combining aftercare and transitional housing services.

   Last year:
• 1,258 addicts and alcoholics entered Detox, with a completion rate double the national average. But more than 1,500 had to wait because Detox was full.
• Dawn Farm treated 238 men and women in residential programs. Of the year 2007’s residential graduates, about 70 percent are still successful a year later.
• 273 people found new starts in a transitional housing program.
• 33 teens and many struggling parents found hope in the Daybreak collaborative with Juvenile Court and Washtenaw Children’s Services.
• Dawn Farm Outpatient Services helped 409 people in more than 10 weekly groups.
• The Dawn Farm Jail Outreach and Community Corrections Outpatient programs served 381 men and women.
  For more information or to find out about volunteer opportunities, call 734-485-8725 or visit www.dawnfarm.org.

   Meet Jim Fink:
   Jim Fink teams with attorney Karen Valvo at Fink and Valvo in Ann Arbor, a practice that opened in 2008; he previously practiced for almost a decade at Reach, Reach, Fink and Valvo.
   He specializes in real estate, landlord-tenant, small businesses and local government.
   A graduate of Eastern Michigan University, where he earned a bachelor’s in criminal justice and worked at the EMU Police Department, Fink earned his law degree from the Detroit College of Law in 1987.
   He studied for his law degree while working for almost 22 years with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department where he rose through the ranks before retiring as the Police Services Commander.
   Fink, who has been active in combating domestic violence for over 20 years, helped draft the initial Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards domestic violence model policy and training curriculum for police recruits. 
   He was chair of the Michigan Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Board from 1999-2003.
   He and Beth, his wife of 28 years, live in Ypsilanti, where they have home-schooled their six children, ages 10 through 26. 
   They are members of St. Luke Lutheran Church where Fink has served as a member of the church council and as coordinator of monthly men's breakfasts.


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