I come to peer services from a variety of positions. I am the mother of a child who has a disability, and personally as a person who has PTSD and struggles daily with depression and anxiety, Honestly, discovering peer services saved my life, because I didn’t know that there were others I could turn to, who wouldn’t judge me and who would accept me for who I am and who supported me to find my inner strength. Being able to tap into that inner strength has really allowed me to pursue all of my education dreams, and do the work that makes me happy every day.
Even though I have personal struggles, and I still work on myself every day, I have truly found that I have gain control over my past and taken those struggles and found the positive in the darkest parts of my journey. While it was challenging at first to share my story, I have found that utilizing my experiences to support others has given me the chance to take control of my life, and hopefully, I can continue to support others on their journey. I live by this quote that I wrote, “Nothing in my past defines me, it is all just pieces of my puzzle. But everything in my life has shaped me, and it is up to me to decide if it is for the positive or negative.” When we take the power of the pain we feel and turn it into something that helps us grow, we have truly given ourselves the chance to shine.
I have been working in the Human Services field for 25 years. The early part of my career was working with youth ages three and up with OPWDD services and their families. I stayed with OPWDDD but later I moved to work with youth transitioning from high school to post-secondary services and their families. I then moved completely into Mental Health services, and then I finally found peer services, as that is where my passion for supporting others took me. In 2015 I was hired at Housing Options to write the program for our short-term crisis respite programs, and I am still with Housing Options today as the Interim CEO. I have B.S.’s in Psychology and Biochemistry, a B.A. in English, an M.S. in Applied Psychology and my Doctorate in Cognitive Psychology. I really enjoy teaching, staff training and development and writing curriculums… but most importantly working with our participants.
I became a Certified Personal Medicine Coach because I have dedicated much of my adult life to service for others and to supporting people to discover their strengths and the tools for advocacy and empowerment that live within all of us. I am dedicated to peer services and through the innovative programs I have been able to create and am in the process of creating with my agency, I hope to be a continuing part of the growth of peer services. I know that discovering peer services helped save my life, because it was through discovering them that I was able to find how to direct my passion for supporting others by utilizing my lived experience. Running a peer run agency gives me a unique opportunity to create an environment in which I can help create jobs in my community and through our outreach and advocacy programs helps others in the community appreciate the value of peer services.