Felecia Pullen, Founder of Pillars & Safe in Harlem
We met Felecia Pullen through One Girl’s Women in Charge conference in December. After hearing her introduction, we were intrigued and had to speak with this phenomenal woman.
Felecia is filled with light and positivity, and her story is so moving. In the last eight years of becoming sober and in recovery, she’s manifested great things to serve people. Recently, she opened Pillars, a not for profit, holistic approach to substance abuse recovery in Harlem, New York. Prior to this development, Felecia’s background was in sales and marketing and after making the shift in her life by not using any substances, she went to graduate school and became a licensed social worker. All the skills she acquired in the course of her career became the successful foundation for her to open Pillars and Safe in Harlem.
Addiction is not new to us. The media has shed some light on this matter, which can be considered epidemic. How does Felecia define “addiction”? She says, “It is an emotional, psychological, spiritual, and physical attachment” and a way to “help quiet the noise.” Felecia spoke from her experience, when she was actively using, everything stopped.
Because she experienced this first-hand, she wanted to create a space for young adults and challenged their thoughts on success. She emphasizes to the young folks she meets, “You don’t have to wait until you graduate” when it comes to embarking your dreams. Pillar’s program provides a variety of classes for all people, but the overarching goal remains the same: a better version of yourself.
And all of this is inspiring, but it wasn’t easy. Like any journey to success, there were some challenges involved. Felecia said funding is an issue, like many nonprofits. Luckily, Pillars is funded by the state and big companies, but in order to continue to keep the lights on and the doors opened, she would have to be proactive and apply to grants. But how does one do it all when the team is small and everyone’s plate is full? She acknowledges that it is a day-by-day approach when it comes to big picture moves, and what keeps her motivated is knowing the rewards of what she does.
“Everyday I get a hug from the community and a “thank you” for having a place they can come to,” says Felecia.
You can see gratitude on everyone’s faces,” she describes. “I am grateful for the community. Everyone who teaches at the studio volunteers their time, and it feels so good to have people believe in your mission and what you’re doing. I live a fulfilling life, and I know why I had my path,” she says.
While there are great things to come for Pillars and Felecia, we all have to stay tuned to hear the news. But of course Felecia drops some words of wisdom to us by closing with: every day is a milestone for me.
Interviewed by Chary