Jenny From the Block
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is your own background with Fresh Start Recovery?
Jennifer Kent-Charpentier: I have been involved with Fresh Start for over 10 years now, I have been a part of the addiction counselling team from the start of my employment.
Jacobsen: How did you find them and become involved with them?
Kent-Charpentier: I was at a social event and someone was asking me about my work experience and unbeknownst to me a gentleman was walking by and stopped when he heard me talking and asked about my work history. He introduced himself as Stacey Petersen and stated he was the Executive Director of Fresh Start Recovery Centre, he suggested I forward him a resume as he was looking for new employees. I had been working in addictions for quite some time and when my husband and I decided to start a family I took several years off to raise our children. I was thinking about working again however I was not convinced I wanted to get back into working in addictions as I had spent many years already in the field. Turns out I had a friend who worked at Fresh Start and I asked her opinion about the validity of sending over my resume. She told me that if Stacey suggested it, it was sincere. Honestly, I hesitantly sent my resume as I knew Fresh Start was a men’s only facility and I had never worked exclusively with men and really didn’t know if I wanted too. Shortly after I submitted my resume Stacey called me for an interview and before I was a block away he offered me a job and the rest is history.
Jacobsen: When you reflect on your own life, what lead you to an interest and life involvement with Fresh Start Recovery?
Kent-Charpentier: It was sheer coincidence, or serendipity, perhaps both. I believe that the universe set me on the path I am on today. Any hesitation I may have had was quickly relieved when I got to witness the work that was happening at Fresh Start. The staff were and still are compassionate, mindful, aware, not hiding behind policies, timelines and agendas. People are treated with kindness and respect not shame and intimidation. We not only work with the person that struggles with substance use, but we work with families and community because we know that everyone deserves healing.
Jacobsen: Regarding your own position as the program director, what tasks and responsibilities, and difficulties and enjoyments, come with the position?
Kent-Charpentier: The Program Manager is responsible for coordinating and providing structure and guidance to the counseling team, assisting counseling team with individualized case management, group therapy & bio-psychosocial assessment services including group & family counseling for residents/participants within the facility. The biggest difficulty is the tragedy of the lives lost to the disease, this never gets easier. However, the joy of seeing someone recover and reconnect with themselves and their families is wonderful.
Jacobsen: What are some ways people can become involved and help out with Fresh Start Recovery?
Kent-Charpentier: There are a lot of ways to become involved and help out. The best thing to do is contact these two staff: [email protected] and [email protected]. Wayne is the Director of Fund Development and one of Nicole’s responsibilities is volunteer coordinator.
Jacobsen: What are some of the heartwarming stories that you have come across in your time at Fresh Start Recovery? What has been one of the most drastic, positive life turnarounds that you have seen in your time there?
Kent-Charpentier: There are so many wonderful stories involving men and just as many that are about family and friends. Every story starts with one person who feels hopeless and lost but with the help of a recovery community, treatment, education and renewal of their faith, amazing changes occur for everyone. Sometimes the most beautiful changes involve someone learning how to set healthy clear boundaries for themselves and others, and really understanding that they are not alone. This is beautiful to witness in others when they find hope and an inner strength to keep moving forward.
Jacobsen: Any final thoughts or feelings in conclusion?
Kent-Charpentier: I am humbled daily by the courage of others who despite their fears make a choice to live in the solution. This is why I continue to work at Fresh Start Recovery Centre, I have seen people make these changes and am grateful to be a part of this bigger process.