(Photo by Tony Abraham)
In seventh grade, Derrick “Rick” Ford was smoking weed. By ninth grade, he said, he wasn’t “in high school” as much as he was “high in school.”
His smoking habit eventually evolved into a full-blown addiction to hard drugs, and by adulthood, the Strawberry Mansion native told the Daily News in 2014, he was “homeless, eating out of dumpsters and sleeping next to dead bodies in an abandoned house at 15th and Poplar with no lights, no water, no heat.”
Now, Ford is 26 years sober, hosts a radio show called Recovery Hour on 900AM-WURD and is a community liaison with Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services.
He’s also the founder of Recovery Idol, an American Idol-inspired singing competition for Philadelphians in recovery from drug addiction. The competition’s sixth season began in March with 22 hopeful contestants and concluded this past weekend with a two-and-a-half-hour show featuring local musicians, fashion designers, dance squads and a socially charged spoken word artist at Dell Music Center.
Here’s Ford describing the event heading into its second year in 2012:
Three contestants — Joe Boatright, Danny Bombaro and Zackery Dantzler — performed for a packed amphitheater at the Fairmount Park venue, with Danztler ultimately winning over the hearts of four judges. [Full disclosure: This reporter was one of them.] Here’s Dantzler’s performance from the third round of Recovery Idol earlier this summer:
From our Partners
Ford also presented a number of awards to leaders in the recovery community, including Wedge Medical Center ED Christopher Sweeney, Northeast Treatment Centers President and CEO Regan Kelly and Men & Women for Human Excellence founder Kenny Ali.
The evening was a strong show of community support for people in recovery and a tip of the hat to creative empowerment as healthy self-care in practice. Throughout the night, Ford made sure to recognize leaders in the community who were offering on-site treatment for attendees who needed it.
— Nicole Connell (@nicole_dbhids) August 27, 2016
Ford’s Recovery Idol is a reminder of the power of human experience in a field dominated by data-driven strategies and evidence-based practice. After all, nothing soothes the soul or bring a community together quite like music.-30-
From our Partners
One in 5 Philadelphians suffers from food insecurity
PHL Assembled collaborators on empowering marginalized communities through art
How broken instruments provided bonding — and a prop — for a Philly sketch comedy team
For immigrants, civic engagement is essential to success
Women Against Abuse
Domestic Violence Hotline & Intake Services ManagerApply Now
The Reentry Blueprint is sold out, but catch the livestream here
Prevention Point Philadelphia marks 25 years of battling HIV, AIDS and the opioid epidemic
Americans want fewer prisoners. What’s art have to do with it?
This Philly Venezuelan wants to encourage ‘participation, not isolation’ among immigrants
Sign-up for regular updates from Generocity