I met George Rutherford on my recent visit to Mountain Laurel Recovery Center.
All I knew of him before then was that he was a certified personal trainer, that he ordered a huge plate of broccoli at a Directors’ luncheon, and that he teaches Buddhist philosophy and meditation to interested MLRC clients. As I walked around campus with Trinity Cowburn, the Clinical Director, I asked about the large tractor tires near the basketball court: “Oh, George uses those to design cross-fit-type obstacle courses for the residents,” she explained.
I finally met George in person at lunch that day with the other staff. His young teenage son joined us, so our side of the table talked about video games, drone racing, and technology. George is friendly, fit, and focused. He greeted the residents he saw in passing with fist bumps, low fives (is that a thing?), or pats on the back, and seemed completely at ease in the home he has helped create for them. From my observations, it seems that George is the kind of director who has things so organized and under control that he makes the job look easy. To find out more about George’s duties as a director and what makes him tick, I asked him the following questions.
How long have you been at MLRC, and what led you here?
I had my one-year anniversary at MLRC in June 2016. I would like to think I was led to Mountain Laurel because hard work and opportunity met at the right time!
What are your official duties as Executive Director at MLRC?
My official duties are to oversee all operations at the facility; to quote one of my staff…”To be in charge of all the things.” Unofficially, I am a facility fitness trainer, geo-cacher, yoga instructor and idea sponge for my staff and residents.
Describe your typical day at work.
My day typically starts with walking into the facility’s main building, greeting my residents, mixing up a coffee/butter smoothie (I swear it’s delicious), checking emails, then starting the morning meeting. After that…it’s all dependent on what’s happening in our world. It’s typically a whirlwind of meetings, calls, reports, and groups. I try to end my day with a group workout with residents.
You’re a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor. Can you talk more about your passion for fitness and how it aids recovery?
I was a wrestler in school and enjoyed a number of athletic endeavors during my time in the military. I find that fitness provides me with a structure and personal compass that is necessary for me to be at my best. Many of my residents discover the same about themselves once they step out of their comfort zones and come to the gym with me! Exercise is a great, natural way to release endorphins and dopamine in the brain. It helps improve mood, sleep and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
You lead a Buddhist study group particularly targeting residents who have trouble with the concept of a Higher Power. How and when did your interest in Buddhism begin, and what do the residents appreciate about the study group?
I’ve always had an interest in educating myself on various systems of belief. There was something about the Buddhist Noble Truths, Middle Path and Precepts that really spoke to me. The combination of personal accountability and empowerment bears favorable results for many people who are struggling with any host of issues, not just addiction. Additionally, my residents seem to respect the fact that Buddhism isn’t exclusive of other belief systems. You can be a Catholic or an Atheist and still benefit from its practices.
What do you love most about MLRC?
I have a team of staff who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty to help our residents, and each other, through every unexpected twist and turn. They are the heart of the facility and make it much more than just three buildings with a name.
What do you wish you could tell people who are debating whether to contact MLRC about treatment?
I would tell them that the most consistent piece of feedback we get from residents is that the people in our facility actually care. Sometimes that makes all the difference in the world.
What are you passionate about outside of work (besides vegetables)?
I spend as much time as I can with my family. I am also an avid fan of Mixed Martial Arts, bass guitar, genre films, stand-up comedy and listening to podcasts when I’m driving. While I am passionate about vegetables, I am also a crusader for a high protein, high fat diet. Dietary fat gets a bad rap!
For more information about Mountain Laurel Recovery Center, please contact us or visit our website. MLRC welcomes people of all races, ethnicities, genders, and fitness levels. You won’t be forced to eat broccoli even though it’s good for you.