Recovery Connections Community

"Creating Recovery, Creating Connections, Creating Community"

Jerry Knutson

My name is Jerry Knutson and this is my testimony.

Recovery Connections Community helped me change my life. I would not be clean and sober today if it were not for Jennifer and Philip Warren. I am what is referred to as a chronic relapser. I could never put enough clean time together on my own to change my life. I needed an external force to keep me in check. Extended family people like me, that are going through the same thing as I am. People who have my back, and I theirs. Who better to learn how to stay clean and sober from that other addicts. I have known Philip and Jennifer for over 10 years. They have been there for me twice before when I needed their help. I also left their recovery program twice before, to go back out and continue down the road of addiction. After many years of fighting I couldn’t do it anymore. I found myself sitting in my tent down by the creek – no job, no future, helpless, and hopeless. Unable to live a life worth living. I had two choices: I could open the bottle of whiskey in my right hand, or I could call Philip and Jennifer with the phone in my left hand. I wasn’t sure that they would even talk to me if I called. Last time I left, I left without a word or a goodbye. I felt as if I had taken advantage of them and let them down when I was in RCC two years prior. I have personally witnessed what Philip and Jennifer have had to endure to pursue their dreams of giving back of making a difference of giving to others what had been given to them. I felt I had taken advantage of that. When I dialed their number through tears and humility I was ready to beg for another chance to have their council and support. Before I could even ask, Jennifer asked me if I was ready to come home. She said there was a dry comfortable bed and a hot meal waiting for me. Philip told me they had been expecting my call sometime soon and there was always room for me. Room for me if I was willing to do the hard work of recovery. I was picked up within 10 minutes of hanging up that phone. I tell this story to explain my deep appreciation and love for Philip and Jennifer. They are offering a remarkable opportunity to anyone who is ready to do the hard work of recovery. People leave without getting what they came for because that’s what active addiction does to us. It makes us run away. Until we do the hard work of recovery, until we are ready to move to the next level, and except responsibility for our own lives and actions; we are destined to continue down the dead end street to meet only jails, institutions, or death. As I write this testimonial I have put together 30 months of sobriety . I have made the choice to stay connected with the program and the people that keep me honest. I am a proud graduate of the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It is a good foundation with which to build my future on. I will be forever grateful that they picked up that phone and welcomed me home.

Nicholas Horne

My name is Nicholas Horne and I came to Recovery Connections Community November 4, 2015. I came out of Charlotte Mecklenburg Drug Treatment Program. I was incarcerated for 64 days prior to making the choice to send in the application to RCC. I was in desperate need of something very different then the so called treatment centers in Charlotte. I had been to them all and the information was the same in all of them. Don’t pick up and I will be able to stay clean. But how was I to deal with all the guilt, shame and feelings that I used drugs to cover up? See I had burned every bridge that could be with family friends and churches. The one that was killing me faster than the rest my son. I have a 9 year old son (he was 7 at the time I came to the program). I realized that I was the same thing to him my father was to me, an absentee father. I was barely around and if I was there it was more for what I could get instead of for him. So how do I live with that and stay clean? That’s the question many addicts want answered.

So I sent in the application and didn’t want to rely on just one option so I sent in several others to programs like RCC, but I was really interested in the animal therapy component and the option to continue education in the later parts of the program. I have had many jobs and had a strong skill set base. But at 35 years old they didn’t have much room for future being able to support my son and myself. I got set up for a phone interview and went to the farm where the animals mostly are. I made a commitment that I was going to finish the program and it couldn’t be worse than the path I was heading to before. I was on the road to prison for a long time or death. I was a heroin and meth addict by that point in my life. Little did I know that is the easy part of my situation. Now I was at the farm with animals and a schedule to follow for my days. I was working to live and I then came home and dealt with life and 15-20 different personalities. I had to learn a new way of thinking. In the past I didn’t like something or someone I would just leave. Now I started to really read the program handbook and listened to the ones that were senior in the program for guidance. Its like having a house of sponsors. I looked for the ones that had something I wanted more than drugs and that fueled me to work through the uncomfortable moments. Then I got moved to the mountains. I was uncomfortable all over again. But instead of thinking about me I thought of my son and our future. So the next challenge came when I lost my best friend to a drug overdose when I was 4 months in the program. With the support of my brothers that came together and were there to help me in the pain I searched for the positive. I would have been there with him and died as well if I wasn’t in this program. I used that to make my conviction stronger to finish this program because I would die next time and not have any more time with my son.

Now I have graduated the program and started school for Veterinarian Medical Technology. I have the ability to talk with my son and go on family vacations. I go on one in the winter that I can pay for. I go on one in the summer. I am able to plan things in advance and finish them. I still work with the program it helps me stay ground in the road was hard and life is hard but as long as I don’t get high I can overcome everything with the help of like minded friends and family. Thanks Jennifer and Phillip Warren! Thanks for the ability to stay and help others see there is a better life if we stop blaming everyone or everything else and put in the hard work to change our lives back from the depths we took it in our addictions.

Taylar Trudell

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.

Jeremiah Blue

My name is Jeremiah Blue. I came in the program around the beginning of May 2014. Prior to coming into the program, my life was a complete wreck. I could not function as a normal member of society. I was sleeping from couch to couch and stealing from anyone who would open the door for me to feed my addiction. I had completely abandoned my children and my entire family for extensive use of drugs and alcohol. I had overdosed and I am lucky to be alive. Long story short, I found myself in Recovery Connections Community. I was completely optimistic about the program and I didn't want to be there, but like I said I had exhausted all of my resources. I was also sick and tired of the rat race of addiction. I stayed. It was not easy with long work hours, groups and household chores, which no one was used to. Honestly, I wanted to keep using and leave the program, but along with my support peers and the all around strict structure of the program, my "new family" not giving up on me and not giving into or enabling me, my life began to take a turn for the better. I had countless good times: beach trips, cookouts, family functions, concerts, along with bad times just like life is. I stayed the complete two years and successfully graduated the program on July 29, 2017 along with my newfound brothers and sisters whom had helped support me throughout my stay as I did for them while maintaining sobriety. Recovery Connections Community saved my life because I was "willing to do whatever it takes". Take it from us who stayed and actually gave it a chance. My family is in my life now. I have my children back and my relationship with the mother of my kids is great. We are together; something I never thought would happen. I maintain a full-time job and keep up with household duties while being the father I never was to my kids. Things that the program taught me are the things that I apply every single day and most importantly, all while maintaining sobriety. And for that, I am forever grateful for Phillip and Jennifer Warren at Recovery Connections Community.

Bobby Mickerson

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.

Shavon Spencer

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.

Crystal Pallas

My name is Crystal Pallas and I'm a person in long-term recovery. I began my journey in February of 2010. I was broken and defeated and the county jail was becoming my permanent residence. My family and friends had quit talking to me years before and the only positive person in my life was my attorney and even he was ready to be done with me if I didn't agree to go to treatment. At the time I guess I was somewhat willing, because I thought to myself what could be worse than the way I'm living now, so I agreed to go. I had wrapped up numerous charges and was facing indictments. I would lie, cheat, steal and scheme on anyone that was unfortunate enough to come across my path. I was addicted to anything, everything, anywhere, everywhere, anytime and it was all the time. I agreed to go to long term treatment at Recovery Ventures Corporation. This is where I met Jennifer Warren. I later left recovery Ventures to follow Jennifer Warren to Recovery Connections Community when she started a new program after parting ways with RVC. She was always the heart of the treatment in my eyes. Long term treatment is hard and in a Therapeutic Community setting, it's even harder. Hands down the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I was forced to look at all of my issues that I had buried and stuffed for many years, all the consequences that came from my actions followed by the guilt and shame of the damage I had done. Living among people who were there to support you but also call you out and encourage you to strive to heal, was exactly what I needed but was very difficult. Sure there were long hours and ridiculous rules but it was absolutely necessary because of where I had let my thought patterns take me over the years. The structure of the program is to teach you how to make rational decisions without justifying, playing the victim, acting on impulse and to overall become a functioning member of society as most addicts don't know how to do. I stayed in program housing almost a year after I graduated. It took me a couple years to clean up the wreckage of my past and I didn't leave my support group until I felt mentally, emotionally and financially stable enough to do so. Eventually, I lost my connections and let myself fall back into addiction. This time I didn't stay in active addiction for long. There's a saying in recovery that you pick up where you left off when you go back out, this was very true for me. I also believe that you pick up in recovery where you left off. So when I found myself hopeless, defeated and powerless all over again I knew exactly who to call and where to go. So I reached out to my friend Jennifer Warren and she immediately came to my rescue. I have been on both sides, desperate and hopeless looking for someone to believe in me and I've also had the privilege of walking with Jennifer to provide hope and support for others in need. I have a very strong support system now. I have my family and my friends back. I have such a beautiful life. I have a child on the way with a man who encourages me to be a better person everyday. I maintain healthy relationships. I'm honest, compassionate, loving, caring, ambitious, successful......the list goes on and on. My blessings have blessings! I will forever be grateful for the space that Jennifer Warren provided for me and the hope that she gave me when I needed someone else to believe in me!