Oval Miller, Sr.
Founder & CEO

We proudly dedicated this center in the name of Charlotte Merritts Ottley, who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to our program since its inception. Her professional achievements are noteworthy, as well as her passion to serve others.

We are proud of helping women transition into fulfilling lives that are substance free.

About Charlotte Merritts Ottley

Charlotte VM Ottley’s BASIC Story (www.cottleystl.com)


My younger cousin, like my other cousins and I, had been given every opportunity in life, except he had more money and privileges than all of us put together. He was handsome, academically brilliant, charming, charismatic, the “baby” and he fell victim to drugs. This was a paradox to me. I couldn’t put my head around this. Like many, I thought only poor, and what we called rogue-ish people or maybe entertainers, did drugs.

About that same time, I was working at Channel 4 as Director of Public Affairs and Executive Producer and Host of the Eye On St. Louis Show, St. Louis’ oldest and continuously airing public affairs program. One day, at the recommendation of a mutual friend, Oval Miller and I agreed to meet. I didn’t know why, but when I discovered it was about a special program for Black people with drug and alcohol abuse, I was a little disgusted. I asked why is it that Blacks have to be singled out for everything? More Blacks in prisons. More Black poor people. More Black this and that.

Oval Miller, BASIC’s Founder and a recovering heroine addict, rolled out his genius and enlightening appeal on me. A meeting that began as a courtesy to a friend changed my life and continues to this day.

Highlights of my BASIC History:

Active Learning.

I sat in on group meetings. I listened to Oval’s stories. I told the story via TV, PSAs, community stake holders and became a champion immediately. Oval’s training was quick and decisive, factual and believable.  That never changed. When I was recruited to work in New York, BASIC Alumni hosted a tribute ceremony for me and dedicated the Charlotte VM Ottley Resource Room in my honor prior to my departure. This reinforced community, family, and client learning cycle to bridge their transition into the community as contribution chemical free citizens, parents, and family members.

Active Giving:

  • Serving on the BASIC board.
  • Being a public advocate/trouble shooting
  • Serving as a liaison between corporate leaders, media and program

Active Contributions:

  • Training Development and marketing strategies with Oval

Outreach initiatives:

  • Developing a strategy based on my philosophy “If you treat people as they should be, you make them what they can be.”
    1. BASIC facilities have always been esthetically clean, well-decorated, upscale; anyone would be proud to enter. They are like the “Betty Ford” of urban community-based facilities.
    2. BASIC-ly Uplifting Concert Series: Held at the Sheldon Concert Hall, one of the city’s premier concert halls.  We showcased local talent that crossed the boundaries of music genres and ethnic groups, while passing on the BASIC message and making money, too.
    3. BASIC Champions Salute: Held at the Ritz Carlton, where the city’s top community leaders from a variety of civic, business and political arenas came together to salute BASIC and the recovering alcoholic/drug addicts.  With former Heavy Weight Champion Evander Holyfield was the Honorary Chair, the event included a concert by Melba Moore with auction items from celebrities including Al Roker, Nancy Wilson.  Corporate sponsors included McDonnell Douglas and Seeger Toyota.
    4. Prominent involvement in initiatives such as Union Sarah Expo and Fair, a four block community festival with informational booths, car shows, fireworks, live entertainment and carnival rides. This event also helped BASIC become accepted by the mainstream.
    5. Participation in a national conference in New Orleans sponsored by Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company.  The BASIC concept was showcased, modeled and eventually BASIC was  invited to open a satellite office there.
    6. BASIC National SUMMIT held in Las Vegas convened hundreds of exemplary drug/alcohol program models across the county.  The Summit was co-sponsored by YES Teen magazine and featured the 17-voice ARC choir of recovery addicts who flew in from New York.  The event was broadcast live with Bob Law of the National Black Network.  Briefing sessions were hosted by then Drug Czar, Dr. Lee Brown, formerly the Police Chief in New York, and later the Mayor of Houston, TX.

Through long-term relationships established with Don Hubbard on New Orleans and others nation-wide., BASIC’s methodology has evolved as a national model.

During BASIC’s twenty-seven year time period, thousands of lives have been touched.  The image has been branded and an established quality model of sustainable treatment from drug/alcohol abuse has prevailed and excelled. The best is yet to come with the enhanced addition with the Charlotte Merritts Ottley BASIC Transitional Women’s Center.

“I prayed for prosperity to bring me financial peace of mind. I prayed for healing for my loved ones. I prayed for God’s choice of a soul mate who would complete me and I him. I prayed for excellence in everything I do professionally. And, God in his divine wisdom, gave me the highest of honors by bringing me full circle back home to serve BASIC so  that I might continue to touch the lives of His children so that they, too, might have all the things I prayed for. Through this honor, my prayers will multiple to its fullest extent, not just for me for others through perpetuity.  Now that’s the power of prayer. The vitality of BASIC. And together, that’s Priceless.”

-Charlotte Vanita Merritts Ottley  www.cottleystl.com

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