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.
My name is Taylar Trudell. I graduated from Recovery Connections Community in September of 2016. There is nothing negative that I can say about the program. Without the opportunity that Jennifer and Phillip Warren gave me, I would either be in prison or dead. I entered the program tired of living the life of an addict living on the street with multiple felony charges against me and no family willing to be on my side because of the things that me and my addiction put them through. In the doors, I used animal therapy to learn to be responsible and love something other than myself, which lead to a love of animals that I still have today. Using the contract jobs that helped pay the bills for me to go to court and to my probation appointments, I realized that I had always been a hard worker, but that I needed to work on how I interacted with people on a professional level. I had many struggles while I was in the program, but I never felt like I couldn't sit and talk about the real problems that were going on with me, especially when I found out that my dad passed away six months later because his side of our family had enough with the things I put them through. Without the program I wouldn't be the person that I am today. I have pride in myself and the things that I do. I learned to love myself, which gave me the chance to fall in love with a beautiful woman and have a wonderfully healthy relationship. I have maintained a decent job for two years, something that I could have never said in the past. I've rebuilt a relationship with my mom and my little brother. I try and be the best father I can be to an amazing six year old daughter who I look at like my own, and my month old son that I never believed I would be alive to see. Nothing that I have or do is possible without the directors and staff members of this long term community-based program that didn't sugarcoat my character defects, and gave me tough love when I needed it.
Hello, my name is Shavon Spencer and I have been a graduate of the long term therapeutic program Recovery Connections Community since July 29th, 2017. I started my journey in recovery when I arrived at the farm location of Recovery Connections Community on July 29th, 2015. Upon entering the program, I was an active severe alcoholic and crack cocaine addict who had literally lost everything that makes life worth living for. I had lost multiple homes, employment, family, friends, and even had my parental rights of my only child who was then 3 years old at the time terminated. At this time, I was an angry, bitter, and hopeless individual who had made drugs and alcohols the center of my life. I also knew that I had hit my “rock bottom” and that the only way that I was going to achieve and maintain sobriety was to enroll into a long term residential facility.
Throughout my time of being a resident in the program, I was assigned certain roles and tasks to assist in keeping the facility running smoothly and working at a variety of community contract jobs in food service and in assisted living homes. I also provided mentorship to other younger residents who came into Recovery Connections Community to give them a sense of hope, motivation, and purpose on a peer level.
When I was given certain responsibilities of tasks to do around the facility, they were things that people who live in our society do daily to keep up with their households, hygiene, employment, and health. I had forgot how to do simple tasks while being out in active addiction for several years and I needed to be taught and repeat my responsibilities everyday until they were instilled in myself again.
When I was scheduled to work at our contract sites whether it was working with our elderly residents at the nursing homes or working with customers at our food service sites, this particular component of the program assisted me with rebuilding my work ethic, following directions from managers and directors, networking, and giving back to others while being in recovery. Because of me being allowed to work at our contract job sites through Recovery Connections Community, I was blessed to be hired at one of the contract sites when I had transitioned into the last phase of the program and earned a position working in the office at one of the assisted living facilities. I was also blessed within this position to begin earning back significant things that was vital for me when I integrated back into society such as; being blessed to purchase a cell phone, earn my drivers license back, and to contribute with my family help on purchasing a vehicle. Two months after I graduated Recovery Connections Community, I was blessed with the opportunity to take the training classes and obtained my certification as a certified peer support specialist for North Carolina.
When I had first entered the Recovery Connections Community, I was given the role of overseeing birthdays and anniversaries for the other residents in the program. At the time of my graduation, I held the position of managing one of the programs transitional homes for the residents who were either close to graduation or who have already graduated. In between I also served as Recovery Connections Community resident and community leader as well as an alternate weekend manager. I worked very closely with the women residents who were my peer sisters and who had come in after myself. This very rewarding and had helped me change a lot of my defects of character when it came to removing my self-centered behavior and judgmental ways to being more compassionate, humble and yearning for forgiveness. Because of me experiencing these different positions and formulating the relationships in the program with the women residents, I have regained relationships with my family and my friends and created new long-lasting relationships with women who have entered my life today.
During my time at Recovery Connections Community I was exposed and participated in many fun recreational activities such as going to the North Carolina state fair, traveling to Topsail Island for a beach trip, traveling to a camp resort in Hendersonville, NC, participating in two amazing Christmas gatherings, and going to a variety of movies and concerts. Recovery Connections always had events that residents could be a part of which showed people that recovery can be exciting and very rewarding if you put forth the effort of continuing to stay clean and sober and, that completing the program was the key to sustaining lifelong happiness and success.
In conclusion I am very thankful for being a resident and a graduate of Recovery Connections Community. My peers, the leaders and staff in the program as well as the directors Jennifer and Phillip Warren have been a very vital group of people in my life who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. This community has given me the strength and endurance to handle just about anything that comes my way in society now without needing to go back to drinking or using substances. Today I am working as a peer support specialist helping women who have mental health and substance abuse barriers just like I did in the program. Today I have a home in which I am now capable of paying my bills on time, making sure I have groceries and household items and can maintain my hygiene and my appearance just like it did in the program. Today I have constant communication with my family and my friends. People now want to be around me because I know how to give back in a relationship just like I did in the program. I also have a sense of purpose of myself and I know how to hold myself accountable for my mistakes or my shortcomings. Some days are still very challenging for me and I still have to take it one day at a time because I am not exempt from loosing everything that I have worked so hard to gain back but I now know what recovery looks like and can’t imagine my life any other way. I would not be where I am at today mentally, physically and spiritually if it wasn’t for Recovery Connections Community.