My name is Bobby Mickerson, and I am writing this letter on behalf of Recovery Connections Community. The reason I am writing this letter is because of the recent stigmatism that has been attached to Recovery Connections, so my intent is to tell whoever reads this letter about the impact that this program has had on me. I entered the program on January 15th, 2015 and graduated the program on March 11th, 2017. Before I entered the program, my life was a wreck! I literally lost the respect of my family and lost my child and my wife at the time because of my mental health challenges and substance use disorder. I ended up in a behavioral health facility because I lost all hope and did not want to live anymore. While in the behavioral health facility, I was presented a two-year program by a counselor. I hesitated about attending the program, but I still had no support and nowhere to go, so I decided to go to the program, and on that day my whole life changed! While I was a resident of Recovery Connections Community, I learned that the community is the agent of change. Therefore, I learned how to lean on my community, the other residents, or as we called it in the program, my peer brothers and sisters, when I started to struggle with my challenges.
A requirement of the program was that we had to be willing to work. In the beginning it was a struggle for me to accept that because I felt like I needed to concentrate on my substance use and depression. Working did not make sense to me, but I was so wrong! My first job in the program was to work as a personal care assistant at an assisted living facility. I had no experience in this field what so ever, so I was nervous about doing this kind of work, but little did I know the impact it would have on me. My experience working at the assisted living facilities gave me a sense of gratification, meaning it felt good to help those individuals who couldn’t help themselves because of their ailments. Giving back was what I learned how to do, which is one of the keys to recovery. Another thing I learned on my journey at Recovery Connections Community was how to take care of animals. Animal therapy is a major component of the program. Equine therapy and taking care of animals helped me gain such an appreciation for just life, in general! Taking care of the animals became something that had major therapeutic value for me. I bonded with one horse named Avalon and taking care of him every morning had a huge impact on me early in my journey of recovery. If it wasn’t for me working at the assisted living facilities or on a farm rebuilding my work ethic, I would not be in the position I am in today. Currently I am a Peer Support Specialist; I work with individuals like myself every day to help encourage them to gain employment, no matter what their diagnosis. I also have started my own non-profit organization, Awareness is Empowering, to help break the stigma that individuals like myself can be successful and to have a positive impact on our communities. I gained my certification as a Peer Support Specialist, and I am also registered in the state of North Carolina as a substance abuse counselor. Recovery Connections Community not only paid for me to get my certifications but allowed me to be employed with the program to gain more experience in the field that I have a passion for this day.
Today, I have gained the respect back from my family, who are proud me, and I now have meaningful relationships. The directors of the program, Phillip and Jennifer Warren, have stuck to their vision of helping individuals like myself and play very important roles in the recovery community! This is my personal experience and journey of being at Recovery Connections Community, and if anybody doubts Jennifer and Phillip Warren’s purpose, please feel free to reach out to me, because I have a lot more I can say about their character and contributions. They have not only impacted my life, but that of so many others. In conclusion I would like to say that our society needs programs like Recovery Connections Community, and I am forever grateful for the experience of being part of this community.