Many people who work in the addiction and recovery field have what’s called “lived experience.”
Chelsey Allen of Newport is one of them. The certified recovery mentor manages the Newport and Lincoln City offices of C.H.A.N.C.E. (Communities Helping Addicts Negotiate Change Effectively). C.H.A.N.C.E. provides addiction and recovery centers that help people at all levels of recovery with mental health and substance abuse disorders.
“My past is colorful,” Allen said. “It’s what brought me to this job.”
It’s also what helps her to connect with people who are working toward and staying in recovery.
“A good day is helping someone to meet their goals; giving back and helping people, walking with them and guiding them through barriers I faced,” Allen said.
Sometimes, that means getting someone into treatment. Other days it is finding stable housing. She also facilitates a support group, Dual Voices, for people who are struggling with mental health and addiction.
These are among the goals that were outlined in C.H.A.N.C.E.’s 2018 pilot project proposal for funds from InterCommunity Health Network’s Delivery System Transformation Committee.
The program, C.H.A.N.C.E. 2nd Chance (CTC), focuses on meeting daily needs, reducing health disparities and increasing health engagement for people facing challenges associated with mental health and addiction recovery. The pilot program proved so successful that C.H.A.N.C.E. operationalized it, taking a percentage of its monthly budget and earmarking it to fund CTC services.
In addition to helping administer CTC, Allen also completed community health worker training that was funded through IHN-CCO pilot funds.
“I built some long-lasting friendships with community partners,” she said. “What I learned applies in my management position in collaborating with community partners.”
It’s these connections through C.H.A.N.C.E.’s longstanding participation with IHN-CCO’s Delivery System Transformation Committee that now leverage the effectiveness of the work it does, from helping people to pay rent and overcome homelessness, to assisting clients attain government-issued identification cards and food handler’s licenses.
“It gives small social service agencies like ours a chance to have an equal voice at the table,” said C.H.A.N.C.E. Executive Director Jeff Blackford. “It gives power and validity to the work that we do.”