The Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (KernBHRS) held a community forum, on Sept. 17 via Microsoft Teams, in honor of suicide prevention and recovery month.
“This recovery month, the theme is ‘Celebrating Connection.’ We know that connections and a sense of community are a really important part of recovery,” said, Alison Burrowes, Deputy Director of Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.
Burrowes was accompanied by Ana Olvera, substance use disorder division administrator; Roxanne Williford, Peer Specialist; Vince Estes, substance use specialist; Reneta Cruz, substance use specialist two; Michele Owens, substance use specialist and Kaitlynn Patterson, peer specialist one.
“Through all of our programs we serve adults, adolescents 12- 17, pregnant women, parents, folks that are involved in the criminal justice program, child protective services and also that are self-referred or they decide it’s time to make a change and take on this journey of recovery,” Olvera said.
Many of the specialists on the panel were also recovering addicts. They shared their own experiences while they were abusing and as well as through recovery.
“As an addict, we think we can control it, but as I know how it controls us. I was doing computer training at the office and had a complete breakdown,” Williford said. “The next thing I knew I was at a place called CalWORKs and that was the day I was given the gift.”
CalWORKs teamed with KernBHRS to give temporary financial support to those who qualify and for women who are pregnant.
“I love what I do and I’m trying to pay it forward. The program blessed me and my life. in so many ways. I want people to know, you’re not alone and we all have a story. Our stories are different, but I’ve learned that so many of our stories are the same. There is hope, there’s always hope,” Williford said.
The KernBHRS is dedicated to changing the lives of victims of addiction. Watching the growth of others was one of the many motivating factors for these specialists to continue changing the lives of those seeking a new lifestyle.
“For myself, I saw a need in my community growing and I wanted to give back,” Owens said. “It’s rewarding because I get to see the lightbulb moment for my clients and see them walking in their new confidence.”
They encouraged those looking for a chance to call the 24-hour SUD access line to speak to the Gateway Team and begin their road to recovery.