Sober Samaritan



Casey's Story

Casey and Christopher Kennedy Lawford at the "Moments of Clarity" Book Signing Event in Philadelphia. Casey remembers "I picked Chris up at the airport and got him to the event just a little was like walking in with a rock star."

Casey Duffy
is The Sober Samaritan. He was born in Philadelphia, and raised in West Chester, PA. He and his wife Christine, a 4th Grade schoolteacher, live in Malvern with son Cotter and daughter Coeli; his daughter Mallory is a Project Manager with Advantexe, a local corporate training firm. 


Casey has spent the last twenty years in the demolition and remediation business, and is the President and General Managing Partner of Delaware Valley Remediation. He is an Eagles season ticket holder. He golfs at Spring Ford Country Club, and doesn’t get to the gym as often as he gets to Starbucks. 

Casey loves to tell stories. Ask him how he met his wife, or what is was like to take six week old Cotter to the opening of The Linc, or what a great job good friends Linda and Dennis Phillips have done helping him and Christine remodel their home.

This is one of Casey’s stories. The most important one. Without this story, there would be no others. It is, as they say, “What it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now.”

(Note: Caron Treatment Centers is a drug and alcohol treatment facility about an hour outside of Philadelphia. Named for founder Richard Caron, it was previously known as Chit Chat Farms and is affectionately referred to as "Magic Mountain" by those who have seen the transformations that take place on it's campus.)  




Casey's Story

I was never going to take a drink. I’d made up my mind. I watched what booze and drugs did to my Father and to our family. As the oldest son with six siblings, I worried that I might need to take care of everyone before I was capable. I swore I’d never do the same to me and mine.

Then, just before my 16th birthday, my Father hit his bottom and found himself at Chit Chat. Chit Chat saved his life; my Father celebrated 36 years sober in February. He is a long-time member of Caron’s Board of Directors, a champion of the cause, a man whose active alcoholism and recovery were splashed across the front pages of the newspapers. He is the toughest S.O.B. I've ever met, and he’s the guy I called when I was ready for help.

In a very strange way, his sobriety ignited my alcoholism. You see, the concept of the damaged family back then was not what it is today. We kids were not really a part of the treatment process. So, what this 16 year old saw was a Father who had done whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, to whomever he wanted, for years. And when it finally crumbled around him, he went to “Magic Mountain” for 28 days, came home, and everybody loved him again. Well, thought I, now it’s my turn...

I believe in my heart that I was born an alcoholic. Once I started, it was a one-way street. There was only one control mechanism in my life: there was a recovering alcoholic in my house, and he was in charge. Once I got out of the house, my fate was sealed; I’d drink and drug virtually every day until I ended up where we all end up, in an institution or a cemetery.

I could tell you the whole drunkalogue, but here it is in a nutshell: You could count on NOT counting on Casey. I was an ambitious guy who started blowing off my work and my future. I was a funny guy who turned sarcastic and bitter. I showed up late, under-dressed and under-funded. In the end I was the kind of guy, if we were out, and you were my best buddy, and you got up to go to the bathroom, I’d take a twenty off your pile and when you came back, I would buy you a drink. I was a worthless drunk and stoner. I was, as my first Sponsor told me, "A failure at the business of living."

When I was ready to give up, I had no job, no credit, and no money. My home county had a discretionary fund at that time that was used to pay for treatment for guys like me, caught halfway between medical assistance and private coverage. Somebody I didn’t know in an office somewhere got a call from Caron. At a time when those who knew me best would not have been willing to bet a dollar that I would show up when and where I was supposed to, a group of strangers decided I was worth it. The door was opened, and those who loved me pushed me through.

I could spend twenty eight paragraphs writing about my twenty eight days, but it’s all right here -  In the lifeboat that is Caron, it was the other shipwrecked souls who welcomed me in and taught how to hang in there and not make waves. My fellow drunks took care of me until I was ready to begin taking care of myself. When I was ready to listen and to get honest, the counselors were great, and I learned a lot about myself and my disease. I found out I could laugh without a drink in my hand, look forward to a future without worry, be honest about where I was and what I was doing, and be, “A success at the business of living!”

The time since, more than 30 years, has flown by. I’ve had the privilege of living the life most drunks never know. Real life. Life with ups and downs. Births and deaths. Successes and failures. I have a loving wife, a thriving business and three great kids. My wife, business partners, and kids have never seen me take a drink. God willing, they never will. 

owe all I have to my program of recovery, and it all started with Caron. That’s why I travel back once a month on a Sunday night to speak to the patients. That’s why I get there five or ten minutes early every month and sit by Richard and Catherine’s gravesite, read the inscription, and say
a quiet “Thanks....for everything.”

I’ve talked with Richard and Catherine Caron’s “kids” (all older than I, I must say) a bit about their childhood. They remember nights in the living room playing with some kids they’d just met. Dad in the dining room with a man, drinking coffee and speaking quietly. Mom in the kitchen with a crying woman, the man’s wife. These people opened their house to hundreds and devoted so much of their lives to helping others recover from alcoholism. My one Sunday a month seems like nothing when you put it in perspective. 

So now, I do more: "The Sober Samaritan" gives one person at a time that which was so freely given to me – nothing less than a punched ticket to a new life. To date, we have provided four full "scholarships" and two partial scholarshis to Caron Treatment Centers. Just like they tell us in the rooms, it is beyond my wildest dreams.


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