Dr. Abraham Twerski and Message Carriers Left Lasting Legacies

In February 2021, Dr. Abraham Twerski died from complications related to COVID. In June of 2021, the Message Carriers of Pennsylvania closed its doors. At the 2021 Pittsburgh Recovery Walk, we are honoring enduring legacy of both.

On September 11, Recovery Walk participants will have the opportunity to leave personal messages of thanks that will be shared with Dr. Twerski’s family and Message Carriers’ staff.

Can’t make the Walk but still want to send a message of thanks? Email info@pghrecoverywalk.org.

Message Carriers of Pennsylvania, Inc. was a trailblazing recovery community organization led by Robin Horston Spencer.

Message Carriers offered numerous services for people impacted by addiction, including a free after-hours helpline and recovery meetings. They helped create the certified recovery specialist credential in Pennsylvania and held trainings to help peers become certified.

Message Carriers also worked in the community to change negative attitudes and increase the visibility of recovery stories. This year’s Pittsburgh Recovery Walk—and any future recovery events in our region—are the direct result of their work. For 18 years, Message Carriers hosted recovery walks and bike rides, recovery choir performances, HBO screenings, fashion shows, and more. 

Message Carriers’ legacy lives on in the individual lives it has changed, as well as the lasting effect it has had on the overall landscape where we recover and live.

Dr. Abraham Twerski was a rabbi, psychiatrist, writer, and the founder of Gateway Rehab, which opened its doors 1972. In addition to his work at Gateway Rehab, Dr. Twerski was the director of psychiatry at St. Francis Hospital for over 20 years.

Dr. Twerski saw people struggling with addiction as diamonds. Treating addiction and supporting recovery, he said, was “diamond polishing.”

He saw addiction as a human struggle that can pave the way for learning and growth: “Times of stress are also times that are signals for growth. And if we use adversity properly, we can grow through adversity,” he said.

Dr. Twerski’s legacy lives on in the individuals and systems that he planted and helped to grow. Many people in Pittsburgh and beyond remember his dedication to his individual patients, and the spiritual hope that he shared with others.