Women’s History Month: Honoring Ms. Peg Diehl
March is women’s history month. The most prominent woman in Seabrook’s rich 44-year history is Ms. Peg Diehl. Ms. Peg was not only monumental in Seabrook’s development, but the advancement of drug and alcohol counseling and rehabilitation across the United States. Ms. Peg was the co-founder of Seabrook House alongside her husband Jerome Diehl and several close friends all with a passion for recovery.
Throughout Ms. Peg’s 36 years with Seabrook, she served a number of positions throughout the organization. Prior to Seabrook’s formation Peg work diligently grant writing and record keeping for her husband, Jerome and friend Marge Klaiss as they traveled securing support to construct the first rehabilitation center in South Jersey. After a particular encounter with one of Seabrook’s first patients in 1974, Ms. Peg felt herself being called to the line of social work. In the late, 1970’s Ms. Peg began taking courses to obtain her license to practice alcohol and drug counseling. Following her certification, she served as a residential therapist, family interventionist, manager of outpatient program, director of residential treatment, and founder of the MatriArk and Family Matrix programs during her 36 years with Seabrook.
Following her family’s personal struggle with addiction, Peg insisted the foundation of Seabrook be centered on love and family. The ripple effect of addiction is tremendous. Peg Diehl pioneered the idea of addiction being a family disease. The entire Diehl family suffered the ramifications of Jerome’s alcoholism. Peg realized not only did Jerome need to heal, but also so did their family. Following recovery, the Diehls wanted to share the joys and deep benefits of reconciliation they experienced through recovery with others. Throughout their own journey to find help for Jerome, they realized the lack of rehabilitation resources accessible to those suffering in New Jersey and the surrounding area. Thus, the concept of Seabrook House was born.
In the 1990’s, Peg Diehl became a champion for alcoholic and addicted mothers when she established Seabrook’s MatriArk program. The program was designed to expose mothers to the resources necessary for recovery, without distending mothers from their children. A large factor prohibiting women from entering treatment is the overwhelming fear of losing custody of their children. Seabrook welcomed these women warmly and gave them hope. Ms. Peg was once quoted saying though she never had any biological daughters, she felt as if every mother and child in the program were children of her own, “more grandkids to love”.
While the name has changed from Seabrook House to Seabrook, not much else has over the last several decades. Most of the standards and procedures implemented by Mr. and Mrs. Diehl still stand and are practiced daily at all five of our rehabilitation locations. Love remains at the center of everything we do at Seabrook; we truly are the heart of recovery.