Quicksand Grabs San Diego ARC Grads
by Marlene Gerber –
Mention Quicksand Sandwich Shop in downtown San Diego to graduates of the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) program or the rehabilitation staff and you are likely to elicit a “Wow, that’s a great place for our people.” Indeed, it has become a special place for ARC graduates.
One of the biggest challenges facing men and women in recovery is finding gainful employment as they re-enter society. But finding a caring environment in the workplace that supports their sobriety program is a rarity. For the past three years, Quicksand owner Chris Johnson has offered that very opportunity, with excellent results.
“I’ve found all the people who have come from the ARC to be terrific employees–hard working, trustworthy, and respectful,” the restaurateur said. So good, in fact, that they constitute 90 percent of his work force. A working relationship with The Salvation Army ARC’s re-entry program has evolved from a single employee who came from the Center three years ago to a steady source of fine workers. Many of the people hired did their required work therapy (when they were in the rigorous six-month residential rehabilitation program) in the kitchen/dining room at the Center “As an employer, finding well trained people with a good work ethic is a real plus for my business. We’ve had no problems with shortages or tardiness,” he added. These employees, in turn, appreciate the opportunity for a second chance. “It’s a win-win situation,” Chris added.”I give them the respect they deserve, and they give our customers good service.”
Those customers, ironically, are largely attorneys, judges and office workers from the nearby courthouse.
Dr. Edward Lataille, director of rehabilitation services at the Center, said that Quicksand is the largest employer of ARC alumni in San Diego, besides the ARC itself. He applauds Chris’s commitment to providing opportunities for these graduates. And it’s more than just a job for these folks. The hours are flexible, so they are able to get to their AA or NA meetings, pursue further education and other personal goals. It’s a supportive environment, with a strong network of friends in recovery. Finding the right workplace is so important during the re-entry phase of the ARC rehabilitation program–a crucial transition period for a person in recovery. These people are coming from the very structured living and work routine at the Center to independent living (most are in sober living residential Bridge Houses), managing their own households, and assuming financial responsibility for themselves. The ultimate goal of the program is to return people to productive living, as tax-paying, contributing members of society.
This fits well with Chris’ vision. “My goal is to create as many new jobs as I possibly can,” Chris said. He has already established Pasta PDQ Pizza and Juice Quake adjacent to Quicksilver. Several ARC graduates now hold managerial positions with the organization.