Introducing Miss Connie
What was the main attraction of Fresh Start Recovery for you?
I have worked in the Addiction Sector for a number of years and knew Fresh Start Recovery Centre and the Executive Director, Stacey Petersen. Stacey is known in the A-Community for his leadership and vision to support initiatives and endeavours by all addiction serving agencies in Calgary. My experience was in third stage housing and working with alcoholics/addicts, both men and women, and I came into contact with FSRC clients many times. They had good solid programs and were great clients for third stage housing. Over the years, FSRC grew and built the current facility under Stacey’s leadership and they are continuing to grow and expand. My circumstances changed and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to join Fresh Start and move forward and be part of the momentum that is Fresh Start.
What were some of the unexpected pluses of becoming a part of the family and community there?
The biggest pluses are the interactions I have with the men who are in treatment here. My relationship with each one of them starts over the telephone while they are on the waitlist. They call in daily and we get to know each other over time. When they arrive at the facility for residential intake or the day program, we get to meet each other and put faces to voices. I get an opportunity to talk to the men and share a smile with them (the candy bowl helps a lot!) It’s a great way to get to know each other! My whole day is made up of short & sweet interactions while I get the phones, sign residents in and out, give out medications. The men are respectful when they come to the front desk and always ask how I am. My role is supportive and non-judgmental and I have a lot of fun every day interacting with them, talking and laughing. The facility itself has warmth and caring that comes from the staff and clients and is a great environment to work in.
Who do you have the most contact with in the community in daily work? What have been the more fun moments in work with the?
I am most in touch with waitlist clients, in-house clients and alumni. The waitlist clients generally number 100 or so and each one of them is required to call daily to let us know how they are doing. Admittance to the day program, or the residential program, is done from the main waitlist. We have other waitlists for specific population groups and they are separate from the main list. I talk to many mothers and fathers who are trying to find help for their child and I try to provide them with information that will help. I receive calls from as far away as Nova Scotia. Spend time talking with the parents about our Family Healing Program and how it will help them in their understanding of the addict/alcoholic. They are grateful for the information I provide. All of these different contacts are satisfying and I am grateful to be of help. I also let all of these contacts know that I am also in recovery and we share and laugh about certain circumstances.
What have been some of the most touching events you’ve seen in your time at Fresh Start?
Gratitude Ceremonies are very touching with each man speaking from the heart on what the experience has meant to them. When the loved ones or family members of those who gratitude also speak, it is heartfelt and filled with gratitude. The first time I see a man who has been on the waitlist for a long time, come into the facility is emotional as I can see the hope, fear and gratefulness on their faces. I think touching events occur several times in the course of one day here at Fresh Start.
What tasks and responsibilities come along with administrative work?
Reception activities and answering the phone are the two main areas of responsibility. Recording information on the FYI database on clients coming and going, dispensing and accurately recording medications, 12-Step meeting attendance, meditation attendance, etc. Giving medications and correctly entering the information is very important. There is also faxing, copying and uploading in support of the clients. In general, the interactions between staff and clients and the public are frequent and satisfying. Very often, I will spend some time talking with family members about our program and how to access help in the community. To be able to calm and focus the caller on possible solutions and help is a very good feeling, I always get “thank you for taking the time to help me.”