Recovery Connections Community

"Creating Recovery, Creating Connections, Creating Community"

Kimberly Tart

So I wanted to share my perspective on Recovery Connections as well as Jennifer Warren. She is by far one of the few people I know who is thriving and living her dream. That dream isn't one of vacationing and financially prospering. It's a dream of giving back and helping others. It's a dream of providing a safe and warm environment for individuals who are fighting addictions. It's not a place to relax and lay in bed and detox. It's a place where emphasis is put on hard work, therapy, following rules and learning what's needed to survive in the real world one they finish the program. I have never known anyone more passionate than Jennifer about what they do. Why is she so passionate? Because she has been in their shoes. She knows the pain and the struggle. Now that she is clean and has the opportunity, her life's mission...her hearts desire is to give back to the community and help others. I do not work in this program. However I have a very close family member who is in her program and has been since April 2017. He is doing great! I've watched him mature, grow and learn and beat his addiction. I've watched him deal with demons from his past. He has learned responsibility. Has it been smooth sailing? No. He is a drug addict. He had to learn that he had to follow the rules. Let me say that It takes longer than 2 or 3 months. You have to stick with it. You have to do the work. You have to WANT the help. You have to utilize the tools that Jennifer is providing. I have visited the men's facility. It was nice and it was clean. Residents had what was needed. My family member has actually gained quite a bit of weight which tells me he is eating well. He has learned to cook and grocery shop. I think it's great!! What if he doesn't marry and he lives alone?? He needs to know how to do these things for himself. I'm thankful he is being taught these things. I was flabbergasted, shocked and apalled when I read so many untruths published about Jennifer and this program. I hope people will understand that the media is known for publishing only one side of the story. It's also clear that the people commenting by their own admission only attended for 2 or 3 short months and didn't complete the program. If it didn't work for them for whatever reason...that's ok. Maybe it's not for everyone. But is it necessary to bash ones integrity, business and likelihood?? I reached out to my family member who is close to finishing the program....I asked him how he felt..if he was worried...what have you. He replied to me that Jennifer and Phillip both were awesome people who truly cared about each resident and their success. He told me that he wasn't worried about it, but was concerned about Jennifer because it has obviously upset her and she didn't deserve it. He also told me that yes the program was hard. It was meant to be....but that it worked because he is almost 14 months clean. He has no plans to leave anytime soon. So...if it is so bad....why would he want to stay? He is NOT employeed there. He is a resident. We were blessed to get a home visit with him a month ago. The changes I saw in him were remarkable. He is so proud of himself as he should be. Our family is grateful for Jennifer and Phillip and this program. It saved his life!! Let me lastly say that what I've learned is that things are not always what they seem. They do work a lot of hours. But there is a reason. I'm sure if asked, Jennifer would gladly explain why. Yes there may be some "yelling" in therapy. But there's a reason why. It isn't a cult or verbal abusive situation. A lot of things sure have been twisted. Also let me say to you that drugs can touch any family. I sure never thought it would happen to mine. I don't know about you....but we didnt have thousands and thousands of dollars that was required of some facilities. There are very few programs such as Recovery Connections that are available to help people. Heroin and opiods is a growing problem for our young people. It's everywhere. So let's spend more time supporting true legit places such as this instead of tearing them down. They are so needed, sadly....they are!! All of my prayers go to Jennifer, her beautiful family and all the workers and residents who may be being affected by this. I pray truths are brought to light. Thanks for reading. I hope this reaches someone...someone who could help make a difference.

Elaine Stanton

Jennifer Warren saved my life. In 1999 I was an alcoholic, homeless woman living on the streets struggling to survive. At age 36, I finally fell into a coma from cirrhosis of the liver, waking up in the geriatric ward of John Umstead Mental Hospital in Butner, NC. I had become estranged form my family, had no one to call, nowhere to go. I called this program called FIRST in Black Mountain. Jennifer was the first person who talked to me. She took me into her program at that time. There were physical challenges, like walking again, but more importantly, Jennifer taught me the discipline of character change. I completed the two year hard, work structured program. I note my first encounter with Jennifer Warren to point out I have followed her ever since. For 20 years, she and I have kept in contact. I was also in her program Recovery Ventures, so I have been long able to observe her undying commitment to recovery. I relocated home to Pennsylvania in 2008, but had I remained in NC, I would have asked to be involved in some way, possibly with her Animal Therapy Program at Recovery Connections Community. But because I am out of state, circumstances allow me to currently act as a  board member for Recovery Connections Community.

As a board member, I am most enthusiastic about Jennifer's Animal Therapy. A vast majority of studies have reported animal therapy works to heal broken minds. Interacting with a friendly pet can help many physical and social issues. Animals are an authentic form of therapy, and it is the particular incorporation of this treatment into a recovery program that Jennifer distinguishes herself as a program director. It has been proven that a patient's social, emotional and cognitive functioning improves through regular pet therapy. It has also been proven soothing interaction between animals and people releases endorphins that produce a calming effect. I highly laud her thoroughness with developing an animal therapy program, and can also attest to the fact that some of the hard earned money is used for the farm and animals, as well as vehicle maintenance. Not only do the residents benefit individually from animal caretaking, they are also practicing teamwork, social interaction, responsibility, compassion, kindness and patience.

It has been a long journey to recovery for me. Now, with almost six years sobriety under my belt, it is Jennifer to whom I need to give back. Her program is demanding, but this is by design. Addicts need structure. We need to understand teamwork, learn honesty and to accept correction. Her entire motive is about giving people an opportunity; the money serves simply to keep the business of her efforts to save lives functioning. Her entire motive is helping others learn how to help themselves. Jennifer cares about one thing, and one thing only: saving lives.

I read the article in Reveal. It was highly disturbing. The complaints seem to come from people who were not ready for recovery. I can personally testify that Ian Hays lied when he said Jennifer only wanted donations for manicures for herself. Ian Hays was at FIRST when I resided there. He worked in donations while I worked in Jennifer's office as her personal secretary. One of my duties was to document every single thing she did for daily reports to the director of all staff. Going to the mall and getting manicures was never on her agenda; business meetings, interactions with residents and counseling sessions were. Jennifer was a licensed counselor and the clinical director then, and had no time for such frivolous activities. And when she visited me this last year in Pennsylvania, she was accompanied by three girls and two men from her program. We stopped at a nail place before dinner. Jennifer asked all the girls if they wanted to have their nails done. They said no. I went to wait for Jennifer while she had her nails done, and I saw her pay with her own money. She was always working while here. She took calls, delegated instructions to staff over the phone, and went to court to speak on my behalf to the judge. 20 years later she still stands true and noble in her attempts to better my life. She understood the complication of the charge, and knew I did not belong in jail.

I am currently in recovery. If my alcoholism was not in remission, I would welcome being in a program run by Jennifer. I know I would have a reliable home base, an honest director concentrating on doing the next right thing, and the structured program that would guide me back to sobriety. To me, Jennifer Warren's dedication to recovery is unrivaled. Knowing her for over 20 years has allowed me the honor to witness a person who devotes her life selflessly to the welfare of others struggling with the fatality of alcoholism and addiction. When I first spoke with her from John Umstead Hospital in 1999, she asked me one question: "Are you wiling to do anything for sobriety?" I said yes. The work was hard. None of it was easy. But any reformation is difficult and uncomfortable. Knowing you have a serious, dedicated leader helps your focus remain steadfast. Today, Jennifer is that reliable leader I can still call.


Elaine Stanton

Dennis Barbare

This is a story about a woman of strength. A woman who has struggled on through her own adversities. A woman who in 1994 realized that she had a problem with drugs and alcohol, that her addiction was ruining her life. She entered First, Inc. in 1994 to begin what would become her life long journey of helping people try and put their own personal lives back together. She completed the program in 1996 and became a staff member where she excelled and later would receive her credentials as a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor. She also continued her education and obtained her master's degree at Appalachian State University. She and two other people started a two year long-term treatment program called RVC. She continued to work 16-18 hour long days, with one goal in mind: to help people. She never ever turned anyone away, even after these people continued to hurt her by coming back into the program and then leaving again. You see, it is so common for the addict to blame her for their shortcomings. How soon they forget that when they had no place else to go, she gave them a safe place to come back to, and yet time and time again these people would turn their backs on her only to call her back in time of need. A time when they were alone, using drugs and alcohol, were desperate and "willing to do anything" to get their lives back together. Did she once turn her back on them? No, never. She continued to maintain a safe place for them to come back to. To provide them with a roof over their heads, food to eat, clothes to wear and of course, cigarettes to smoke. Throughout the years, she has helped hundreds of people, many of which still communicate with her today. And yes, there are those who talk among themselves, who continue to refuse to acknowledge their own shortcomings, who for their own selfish means, want to discredit her and blame her. This story is about a woman named Jennifer Warren, who today still continues to provide a place for the malcontent.