Resilience & Recovery Project Spotlights
Each morning across four sites in Jackson County, over 15 Peer Support Specialists settle into their desks to begin another day serving justice involved participants in need of support in the community Soon, participants begin to drop into the offices, grabbing cups of coffee and chatting with staff about their lives – for some, there are few other places as welcoming as this. “We’ve done our best to remove every possible barrier to accessing services,” says Tiffany, Peer Support Program Manager “when someone arrives at one of our offices, we make sure their basic human needs are being met, then go forward from there.”
Peers then begin cycling in and out of their workspaces, leaving to transport participants to appointments, helping them with accessing other services and paperwork, shopping for food and clothes, and otherwise meeting the specific needs of each of the people they serve. Back in our offices, multiple different cognitive-behavioral skills groups gather on any given day to check in, practice mindfulness , and engage with content focused on skill building, setting goals, and creating plans for long-term success. Participants continue to come and go throughout the day, whether dropping in to say hi or meeting with a Peer to set goals for the future.
Because of their offices’ co-location with other service providers in Jackson county, Peers are able to collaborate extensively with other agencies and other service providers. Peer Support services in Jackson county are accessible in four service locations:
“It’s really hard to say what I do in an average day” says Ellisha, a Peer Support Specialist at our Resilience & Recovery Project in Marion County, “I could start in the office doing paperwork, and have people drop in for services or come over because they’ve been referred by a parole officer. Other days, I’m out in the community driving people to pick up mail and food boxes or supporting them at court or in an appointment.”
From her office in the Marion County public safety building, Ellisha works with participants referred by their Probation and Parole officer or another organization. The office always has snacks and water on hand, so she will also often support people who drop in for resources, or people waiting for a meeting with their Probation and Parole Officer. She has also developed relationships with Probation and Parole Officers, collaborating with them to ensure that participants’ needs are being met. A couple of weeks ago, she and a Marion County Parole and Probation Deputy went out to lunch with a participant who was anxious about being in public. Dynamic and collaborative solutions like these are only possible when working holistically across agencies to provide the best possible support.
Building trust is essential to supporting people in recovery. At our Resilience & Recovery Project in Multnomah County, where many participants are referred to us for court-ordered services, a trauma-responsive approach focuses on relationship building and individualized supports to promote positive outcomes. “As people with lived experience, from systems-involvement to recovery, we know how valuable it is to have dependable recovery based support systems” says Crystal, Peer Support Program Manager for Multnomah County. “There are so many expectations for people navigating systems; being able to collaboratively problem solve, plan, reflect, and celebrate successes can make a big difference.”
Crystal and Chris support people navigating STEP court, a specialty court providing prison alternatives for eligible individuals charged with Measure 11 offenses. Throughout the day, they come in and out of the office, stopping by after attending court hearings with participants, supporting them in accessing basic needs, and implementing skill building interventions for future success. “I understand the importance of advocacy in these spaces,” says Crystal, “people know that we’re dependable and consistent, and that we focus on what they are doing, rather than what they’re not.”