|Throughout my life I have enjoyed success in both the Education and Behavioral Health fields. I have achieved State and National certification and licensure in counseling with a specialization in Addictions, Relapse Prevention and HIV/AIDS education and prevention as well as certification as a Secondary Education Teacher. I have held positions of leadership as a Curriculum Development Lead, Senior Therapist, and Certified Trainer of Trainers for the CDC, Health Education Coordinator and Benefits and Services Specialist. Throughout all of this, I also managed and mis-managed an addiction challenge as well as the belief that there was a diagnosis waiting for me.|
In 2000, I moved to Arizona to try and make a fresh start. However, my addiction and my psychiatric expressions that didn’t serve me well followed me. After some significant challenges I was finally willing to admit that I needed some help. I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and was given a diagnosis (or two) and there was a flicker of light at the end of what had seemed a maze with no exit.
At first, I let my diagnoses and everything I could read about them define me. I became my ‘illness”. I was hospitalized for a very long time and then entered a 16 hour residential program where my every move was monitored. My days consisted of morning meds, day care (oops) treatment, evening meds and lights out. It had been suggested that employment may not be the route for me as it would be stressful and aggravate my ‘symptoms”. After all, I had begun to hear things that others don’t all the time and people like us were expected to ‘cope’ and ‘get by’. Peer Employment Training through Recovery Innovations awakened in me a hope that I had never felt. Mike Zeeb, my instructor, and other staff at Recovery Innovations believed in me at a time when I could not find that for myself. Upon completion of the training I was hired as a part-time Recovery Coach helping people develop their own personal recovery plans. Watching the effect this had on my peers only helped to increase my hope. I moved out of residential care into the Community Building Program at RI and was finally back in the community. I thought, “What a wonderful lot in life for me. I shall do this for the remainder of my days”. I was then asked to serve as the Class Assistant for PET part-time and I thought, “What a wonderful lot in life for me. I shall do this for the remainder of my days” Cleverly, Mr. Zeeb drew me into the interactive training charging me with portions of lesson plans that awakened that innate instructor in me I had hidden so long ago. Before I knew it I was the Recovery Services Instructor providing PET in Phoenix and I thought “What a wonderful lot in life for me. I shall do this for the remainder of my days”. I was then asked to travel, providing PET in other States and I thought “What a wonderful lot in life for me. I shall do this for the remainder of my days”. I was honored to recently be asked to travel to England and offer Peer Employment Training to one of the Trusts there. This journey helped provide 40 new Peer Support Specialists to The Cambridge/Peterborough Trust. My ‘lot in life’ has now turned to a vision. My entire life experiences have led me to this day where I will introduce recovery to those it has not met and reacquaint recovery with those who have become distanced. I will be that safe resource people can seek in times of doubt or uncertainty; a place where they will find validation and strength. I have been blessed with passion, understanding, unconditional love and hope and I will carry these to a world deserving of much more than that. I am at peace with the thought that my most valuable contribution may not be major or great events but rather small moments that were inspired by great love.