AfterParty Hero: The Ex-Fortune 500 Exec With a Heart of Gold
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AfterParty Hero: The Ex-Fortune 500 Exec With a Heart of Gold


peggy albrechtWelcome back to AfterPartyHeroes, where we honor those whose lives are dedicated to helping others in recovery. Today’s hero is Peggy Albrecht, best known for being the executive director of Friendly House. Through her work there as well as her extensive community outreach efforts, Albrecht has become a revered figure in the recovery industry, where she’s known for her good-hearted nature and the respect she so effortlessly commands.

A Friendly History

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, a little background: Friendly House was established in 1951 by Bea Jorgensen, who was a party girl (and alcoholic) before such women wrote books about their adventures. (Jorgensen, of course, got sober and was actually immortalized by Carol Burnett in the TV movie Life of the Party: The Story of Beatrice, for the interested.)

Jorgensen started the original center in downtown LA and then later got an interest-free loan to buy Friendly House’s current location in the mid-Wilshire district, making it the oldest women’s recovery home in LA and the first in the US. During a transitional period when Jorgensen was in poor health, she handpicked Albrecht to take over the center. The pair worked alongside one another for three years until Jorgensen died, leaving Albrecht in charge—where she’s been ever since.

Albrecht’s Bottom

Though Albrecht has been sober for 40 years, the story of her recovery is a rollercoaster itself: in 1971, she was employed as a high-level executive at a Fortune 500 company. “I found my drinking escalating and my life collapsing around me,” Albrecht has said. “I contemplated suicide and, during my last drunk, knew something had to change.” She called her brother that day, and he took her to her first AA meeting on May 10th, 1971. She’s been sober ever since and the rest, as they say, is history.

A Thriving Home

Today, Friendly House has grown exponentially, and boasts a 76% success rate (over the hospital average of 35%). Their main facility, The Peggy Albrecht Friendly House, is a seven-bedroom home built in the early 1900s, with a two-bedroom cottage behind the house as well and room for up to 16 women at a time. The foundation is currently gathering funds to finish renovating the facility (visit their website if you’re interested in donating). Their other facility, The Nadine Shatner Friendly House in West LA, is a five-bedroom house donated in 2001 by the William Shatner Family Foundation that can accommodate 11 women. To this day, Friendly House has treated over 7,000 women.

Perhaps what makes Friendly House most special, aside from their astounding success rates, is their incredibly low costs. A month’s stay with Friendly House costs women only $3,000 dollars, and that includes food that the center provides for residents. As if that was not low enough, Friendly House makes it policy to not turn away eligible women for financial reasons; this means that payment for their program is handled on a sliding scale, and supplemented by scholarships.

Probably the biggest fundraiser they’re known for is the Friendly House Annual Awards Luncheon, which Albrecht spearheads. They throw it every fall, and it is designed to honor recovered men and women and those with personal ties to addiction. Largely due to Albrecht’s charm and reputation, the luncheon has over the years become a virtual who’s who of bold-faced names, including Russell Brand, Viola Davis, media magnate Sumner Redstone and supermodel Amber Valetta, among so many others. The lunch not only raises addiction and recovery awareness around the world but can also, at times, make the unflappable Albrecht blush. “Peggy is a portal to the greatness that is life,” Brand said at the 2011 luncheon, where he was awarded Man of the Year and flirted with the 86-year-old doyenne onstage. “I’ve always been happy to worship on my knees at the altar of femininity.”

Making Waves

Albrecht has also been honored countless times for her business acumen and humanitarian spirit. Some of those awards include a “Woman of Excellence” award from the Beverly Hills Business Women’s Network, as well as “Woman of Achievement” awards from both Grayson’s Awareness Outreach and Mabel John’s Jay Community Outreach programs.

For her dedication to women in recovery and for being an endless font of love for those in need, Peggy Albrecht is today’s AfterPartyHero.

To see all our AfterParty Heroes, click here.

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About Author

Ryan Aliapoulios is a freelance writer and editor. He also hosts Dad Bops, the world's first intersectional vegan comedy podcast about dad music, available on iTunes and Soundcloud.