EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - Marie Southworth used watercolors to create her recovery and now she is paying it forward by helping others do the same.
That is why she is this month's Jefferson Award winner.
"What had happened is I had lost my soul, I had lost myself," Southworth told News 18. "There wasn't anything about my drinking or anything else that was working anymore."
Southworth came to that realization 14 years ago.
"I have been in the rooms of recovery ever since," she said.
But the Bloomer native didn't just recover she used her experience to help those struggling achieve the same success she did.
"Volunteering gave me the opportunity to get involved and to take me back to people who are newly in recovery or struggling in recovery," Southworth said. "My belief is we have to create our recovery. Because I am a professional watercolorist, and watercolor was a part of my recovery, I decided to start teaching art here at L.E. Phillips and teach it as a recovery program."
In that program, Southworth uses a color wheel project to help her students connect with color and stay focused.
"Because when you first quit using drugs or quit drinking you have a lot of trouble getting your mind to focus again," she told News 18.
She also offers "how to draw" sessions, craft activities and of course watercoloring.
"[With] watercolor you have to be open and free. You have to be able to let go. Let the water and the pigment do what it's going to do," Southworth said.
Creativity kept her sober and every day she hopes her story of recovery can become someone else's.
"You know I just encourage everyone to try and find something anything that they might be good at, or just be interested in," Southworth said. "It's all about helping someone else. One of the prayers we use is the St. Francis prayer., and that prayer is about helping others in their need. And so I really believe that that is how recovery works."
Southworth said the pandemic has put her volunteering on hold and encourages anyone looking for help to turn to online meetings and resources for help.
To nominate someone for a Jefferson Award, tap/click here.