Kelvin Young answers the question:
What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?
That's a very good question, Phil. And when I think about that question, I would have to say my dear friend and mentor, Deron Drumm. I reminisce and I think about about maybe eight, nine years ago when I first met Deron. I just was previously released from prison doing a 2-year prison sentence. And I wanted to make some changes in my life. And that's where I discovered different holistic practices such as sound healing and meditation and yoga while incarcerated.
I took a training to become a recovery support specialist as a person that's in long-term recovery from alcohol and other drugs. I wanted to change my life. And that's when I met Deron Drumm; he was the facilitator and teacher of that recovery support specialist training. And we instantly became friends and we shared and talked with one another, talked about different ways to heal from addiction and how to give back and serve our communities.
And we always reflected on different ways for people to heal. Whether it was Qigong, whether it was sound healing and meditation... We talked about having a space where people can come together to do this healing, to leave all the different diagnoses at the door, whether you been labeled with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar or drug addiction or substance use disorder. We wanted to leave those labels and diagnoses at the door, where people could come in and celebrate human life and human potentials and learn about different holistic ways to heal.
One day he called me and he talked about this idea of really receiving the funding to do this. He was the executive director of a peer-run organization that worked with people that dealt with mental health and addiction issues. And he called me in and he said he had this idea and vision to create a place called Toivo, which is a Finnish word meaning hope. And I believe that hope is a very important aspiration for all of us to have in our life. And I know without hope, I wouldn't be in recovery from alcohol and other drugs today.
And he talked about having this place where people don't have to worry about funds because it will be funded by our Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services here in Connecticut, where people would come and didn't have to worry about money, didn't have to worry how to pay for the different classes and workshops. And we truly did believe that no one should be denied the benefits of yoga and meditation and sound healing and Qigong based on socioeconomic standing or psychiatric histories or experiences with addiction.
Kelvin Young, Mitch Nuir, PhD, Ed Cleveland, and Deron Drumm at Toivo
And he got the proper funding and we was set forth to do this, and he asked me to lead the mission, to be a founding member of Toivo as well as the director. And I won't forget what he told me. He said, "This is my baby, take care of my baby." And I had an opportunity to serve as a co-founder as well as a director there. And he really allowed me to build it, where people could come in from all walks of life.
[Deron] believed in me at a time when I didn't truly believe in myself. He gave me friendship, he gave me support, he gave me unconditional love, and he was just a really beautiful person. And he just tragically passed away back in April. And that really touched me and many of the people in the recovery community here in Connecticut.
But I’ll never forget, it was two days before he passed away. I went to visit him in the hospital, and when I first walked in and saw him lying on the hospital bed… give him a hug… and we instantly both started crying and we had an opportunity to share about… reminiscing about different experiences we had together — building Toivo, going to different people, different places and walks of life, and sharing these different holistic practices with people throughout the state. After about an hour and a half, I could tell he was getting tired. I gave him a rose quartz crystal, and I'll never forget him taking that crystal and putting it in between both of his hands and holding it there to his heart, holding back tears as well. He gave me the universal gesture for “namaste,” honoring each other, not knowing that would be the last time I would see him in this physical realm.
And that was one of the nicest things that Deron had done for him, because if it wasn't for that opportunity to spearhead Toivo, and to offer these different holistic practices, and learn so much about myself, and gain that sense of confidence, and being able to take different trainings and dive deeper into the sound-healing experience, to offer sound healing from different places throughout the country now, having my own sound-healing practice and really sharing about the power of sound healing to people that are in recovery from alcohol and other drugs, dealing with different addicted states or emotional distress. So I really honor and thank Deron for his friendship, his support, his unconditional love, and the opportunity to be the co-founder and former director of Toivo.
Kelvin Young is a sound healer and a person in long-term recovery, which means he hasn't consumed alcohol or any other drug to cope with emotional distress since March 6, 2009. The first time he was exposed to sound healing, Kelvin discovered that the sounds of the crystal and Tibetan singing bowls and gongs calmed his mind, relaxed his body, and nourished his soul. He went on to study sound healing with master sound healers Paul Hubbert of the Institute for Holographic Sound and Inner Balance, and Satya Brat Jaiswal of the International Academy of Sound Healing. Kelvin has also studied with Brian Luke Seaward of Inspiration Unlimited, a renowned international expert in the field of holistic stress management, and received his recovery coach certification from CT Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR).
Kelvin has presented around the country in diverse settings, including Yoga Reaches Out, Newtown Yoga Festival, Indie Yoga in San Francisco, Alex Grey's Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, yoga studios, retreat centers, conferences, colleges, prisons, addiction treatment centers, psychiatric inpatient units at state hospitals, and mental health agencies.
Kelvin was presented with the 2017 Dr. F. Marcus Brown Memorial Integrative Medicine Award for exceptional commitment to incorporating integrative medicine within CT Valley Hospital, a state psychiatric hospital. Kelvin was featured in a powerful documentary on trauma, addiction, and recovery called Uprooting Addiction. He serves on the board of directors at Manchester, CT HOPE Initiative, Eat The Sunlight Health Inc. and is an active member of the Sound Healer's Association.
Today, he continues to share his story of finding freedom from alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and prescription drugs, and facilitates group sound-healing sessions at yoga studios, wellness centers, ecstatic dances, festivals, retreat centers, businesses, corporations, non-profit organizations, schools, and addiction treatment centers throughout the United States. He is passionate about holding space for people to heal with sound, and is known for his warm, loving, and down-to-earth way of connecting with people.
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This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 17: Sound Healing Global Summit