In December 2022, The GateHouse celebrated its 50th year of offering people a meaningful path to recovery. As part of this celebration, we are spotlighting prominent staff, leaders, and alumni and sharing their stories of their time at The GateHouse.
When Dan Schultz first came to The GateHouse, he was broken.
“My bottom led me to a straitjacket in a hospital,” he said. “I arrived at The GateHouse a defeated individual … alcohol had defeated me”.
With the help and guidance of The GateHouse and its team, Dan’s recovery journey would take him from the depths of despair to the promise of a meaningful life. Now a veteran alumnus of the program, Dan continues to see this promise fulfilled by giving back to the recovery community in every way he can.
This is his story.
Dan Arrived at The GateHouse Looking for Change
On May 6, 1982, Dan Schultz crossed the threshold of The GateHouse and embarked on his journey through recovery.
At 34, he was searching for a way to transform his life. Alcohol, his substance of choice, had riddled him with personal issues, legal troubles, and a complete lack of structure and stability.
His first stop was the Caron Foundation in Wernersville, PA, where he completed rehab. The Foundation recommended The GateHouse. In 1982, the typical program stay at The GateHouse was about 90 days, but Bruce Caldwell, the executive director of the organization at the time, made an exception for Dan. Dan had pending court dates for a series of DWIs back in his hometown of Rochester, NY, and needed the time to move through the process before he could fully settle into his recovery plan.
On November 11, 1982, a Rochester court sentenced Dan to 60 days in county jail. After doing his time and serving his sentence, Dan returned to The GateHouse, the best place he believed for him to transition back into a sober community post-incarceration.
“I felt safe there,” Dan said. “I knew if I stayed in Rochester, I would have never stayed sober.”
The Foundation for A New Way of Life
The GateHouse provided Dan with a completely new way of living his life.
“I was given a sense of structure,” he said.
Part of that structure was attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings regularly. This offered Dan access to the recovery community he was so sorely needing.
In AA, he became acquainted with the concept of “People, Places, and Things,” a general idea that stresses the importance of recognizing the “people, places, and things” that are typically the drivers of alcohol and drug cravings and replacing them with something else. With The GateHouse, he had the opportunity to do just that.
“I had never lived with 18 men before,” he chuckled, remembering the sober group outings that were part of the program. “They gave us the opportunity to feel somewhat normal … to learn that it’s possible to live without alcohol.”
Another part of Dan’s recovery structure was his relationship with his counselor, Rick Reed. The two men were close in age and thus held a certain kinship in common. Dan could relate to Rick.
“He helped me realize that your mind is a very very complex thing,” he said. “But also, that things weren’t always as earth-shattering as I thought them to be.”
Counseling sessions at The GateHouse gave Dan the opportunity to really look inward and begin the journey of rebuilding his self-esteem. Eventually, he rediscovered religion, brought it back into his life, and started mending relationships within his family.
Next up was repairing his sense of responsibility and purpose. During his time at The GateHouse, he found meaningful work in maintenance in the local community. Throughout his time at The GateHouse, his job gave him a sense of stability; so much so that he remained with the company long after his exit from the program, ascending to the management level, where he remained until his retirement in 2016.
“Keep It Simple”
Community. Structure. Self-respect. These are the tools Dan was given at The GateHouse. These are the tools that have helped him sustain his recovery since he left. A year ago this month, he celebrated 40 years sober.
From that first broken day in 1982, Dan has come a long way, having built a meaningful life for himself. In 1987, he remarried and became the parent of two stepchildren. He’s also a grandfather to five grandsons, who he says are “a real blessing and a wonderful reward of sobriety.”
He’s never too far from The GateHouse, either. He is literally a 15-minute walk away. And he remains very involved in the recovery community. He speaks regularly with groups in the senior recovery program at the Caron Foundation. He also serves on the board of the 521 Club, a non-profit recovery community organization in Lancaster.
“I try to give back to the community,” Dan said. “I try to help them when I can.”
Asked to pinpoint what most helps him maintain his recovery, he says it’s all about keeping it simple.
“I want to be sober more than I want to drink,” Dan said. “I want the life I have today. In early sobriety, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed. Keep it simple. Don’t drink. Go to meetings.”
It’s the meetings, Dan said, where people are reminded that they’re not alone in their journey.
“If you keep going long enough,” he said, “you’re going to hear your story from someone else.”
The GateHouse is Central Pennsylvania’s leader in accredited addiction recovery care, recognizing the unique challenges individuals face on their journey to recovery. For 50 years, we have helped individuals in our community restore their lives and rediscover the strength of the human spirit.
We provide each client with a support system that helps them break the cycle of substance abuse disorder and put them on the path to recovery. The GateHouse is here for you, whether you need outpatient support, transitional living conditions, or resident treatment programs. Reach out to us today!