Success Stories

Personal Stories of Recovery


Maggie Darker wins Fairweather Lodge Award

Erie Fairweather Lodge resident Maggie Darker earned a prestigious award at the 31st annual Coalition for Community Living National Fairweather Lodge Conference.

Maggie was honored with the 2015 Barbara Breen Lodge Member of the Year distinction Sept. 25 in Monroeville.

She was one of just three finalists for the award, joining two other members from lodges in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Maggie’s roommate from the lodge nominated her for the award and serves as a mentor and friend.

Fairweather Lodge is a residential and vocational community program providing opportunities for individuals diagnosed with persistent psychiatric conditions. The model was developed in the 1960’s by the late Dr. George William Fairweather.

Maggie, who has been at Fairweather Lodge since September 2011, has earned distinction as a leader among her fellow lodge members, who describe her as loyal, honest and dependable.

Her sense of guidance and direction is most on display in her position as an assistant janitorial crew leader. Having earned the title within six months of joining the crew, Maggie takes on a leadership role in which she pays special attention to detail in efficiently conducting custodial duties as well as keeping crew members safe around potentially hazardous chemicals.

Maggie also volunteers for several local charitable organizations and often viewed as the unofficial resident chef by her resident lodge members.

In fact, she attributed this strong work ethic as a reason why she was considered for the award.

“(This award) means I’m dedicated to my work,” she said.

Maggie’s kindness and care for others was recently reciprocated in the form of a surprise party that lodge members threw for her birthday.

“I was totally not expecting it,” she said. “It meant a lot to see all the work everybody put in.”

The deference with which Maggie is treated among lodge members is not surprising given the pleasant demeanor she so often displays. But Maggie notes that since being a part of the lodge, she has also learned how to better assert herself and do what’s best for her.

“I used to be where some people are now, where people would walk all over me,” she said. “I’ve learned that that’s not going to make you grow stronger.”

Maggie also reports being stronger and healthier after battling breast cancer beginning in 2010. She underwent surgery and eight weeks of radiation and is now a survivor, thanks in part, she says, to the help of her three adult daughters, Hope, Faith and Dina, who were by her side the entire time.

The award is affirmation of the growth and genuine care toward others.

“I didn’t expect to win the award,” Maggie said. “I was just happy to be nominated.”

Congratulations, Maggie!




"Stairways helped me to work on recovery, one step at a time." -Ron S


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