I am a person in long term recovery from both addiction and mental illness. After 27 years of alcohol and drug addiction, I was fortunate to find hope and a new life through mutual aid groups, and later, to find medication and support for my anxiety and depression. I am the first person in my family to admit to having mental illness OR addiction issues. I am so appreciative of the life I get to live today.
I am a CPRS, a CPRS trainer, and the creator of MARS, or Medication Assisted Recovery Support. I served as the Director of the SAARA Center for Recovery for many years before leaving to become the CEO of Lightworks Recovery in 2019. Being a trainer of Peer Specialists is the most fulfilling work I've ever done.
I have been blessed to be a part of the team that created the original Peer Support Workforce in Virginia. In 2009, I was trained as a Recovery Coach Trainer by the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery, and held Recovery Coach trainings frequently at the SAARA Center. Back then, no one knew what a Recovery Coach was, let alone a Recovery Center! Later, about ten years ago, a group of us from around the state, including Heather Peck, Jan Brown, and Becky Sterling, collaborated to form the core competencies for what is now the Peer Support Specialist Certification. The field sure has changed a lot since then! It is important to me to continue to advocate for the Peer Workforce, which I do through the PRS Stakeholders Roundtable, a monthly collaborative I began in 2018.
I became a CPMC, and a CPMC trainer, to bring hope and empowerment to others. To paraphrase Pat Deegan, I want to close the gap between what is and what is possible for people in recovery. People are more frightened and alone than ever now, and I am hoping to apply the skills and knowledge learned through this course to provide accessible support to them.