Story by Maria Reyes
In 2009, I was court-ordered to Rena B to complete a year in a residential treatment program. At that time, I was known as a runner because I never checked myself into a court-ordered program.
I remember being in court and handcuffed when a judge said, “if there is no bed available, bring her back.” This is where my journey began at Social Model Recovery Systems. For the first three months in the program, I experienced withdrawal symptoms from methadone and opiate addiction. The overwhelming feeling to leave everyday was a consistent battle due to my addiction. It was at that moment in a Big Book Study that I learned more about my disease. In 2010, my supervisor saw something in me that I could not yet see in myself. I became a volunteer staff working the front desk in the work therapy program.
In 2011, I completed the program and began a new chapter in my life when I transitioned home. With my belief in God, I was able to restore what were once broken relationships with family and friends.
My sanity was restored, and I was in a place in my life where I was ready for the next journey. This is when I received a call from my supervisor about returning to Rena B to help with the AB 109 program. This is where I rediscovered my passion to work with people who have had similar life experiences. This passion was the motivation needed to help me in the early parts of my journey.
For several years, I took the train and bus to go to and from work as a volunteer staff. In 2013, was when I was officially hired to work the front desk. Shortly after, I became a second phase counselor/ Vocational Guidance Counselor which consisted of helping residents transition back into society, obtain employment, and rebuild relationships with their loved ones.
My supervisor at the time, Cliff Barlow transferred to Bimini as a director; he was given the opportunity to bring one staff with him. I was privileged to get the opportunity to work side by side with him. This is when I learned to work as a primary counselor with veterans. Through my hard work and dedication to residents and Social Model Recovery Systems, I was appointed MAT champion. Being MAT champion allows me to relate to and further assist the residents with their recovery. I believe my passion and personal experience with opiates allows me to educate and offer the benefits of receiving MAT treatment- saving lives in the process.
I was then promoted to intake counselor and then program coordinator. The vast opportunities, experiences at Social Model Recovery Systems, and personal life challenges have paved the way for me to pursue and obtain my certification. To this day, the passion within me continues to burn. It is so rewarding to see the residents restored and begin to feel a sense of purpose.