Bryon Bellamy, NCCPSS
Hi, I'm Bryon Bellamy. I was born in Ancon, Republic of Panama and grew up being part of a wonderful military family. We settled in NC and I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My story began in college where I experienced depression, isolation, self-sabotage, and PTSD. In college, I became well known for being the life of the party, ignoring my inner voice saying I needed to slow down and pay attention to who was in my circle. One night during one of my parties, I received a call from a friend I called brother. He told me he would be driving that night and would call me back because he needed to stay up while driving. I found out thennext morning he passed and blamed myself. Prior to him passing, I started to realize how people were using me and only wanted me around for their benefit. During this party even though I was laughing and engaging I felt alone. For some time, afterwards, I started to abuse alcohol and isolate myself. It wasn't until one-night walking with some friends that I realized I needed some real help. They helped me realize I wasn't well and needed support. I decided to go home to spend time with my family and while there I started receiving therapy.
I learned about peer support from a friend and was immediately interested. I realized that was what my friends did for me and I wanted to be able to do it for others. Since becoming certified I have been able to work with peers in the community. It has been amazing to be able to use my real-life experiences from college, at UNC-CH, and post-college to help peers navigate their own personal recoveries. As I work with peers I have been able to experience the positive impact that peer-to-peer relationships are able to make. While advocating for peers, who are on their mental health and substance abuse recovery journey, it has been a joy to see many hold firm to the new standards and skills they have developed. It helps me to maintain my recovery. I also spend time with the youth in the community as an ACT/SAT prep teacher and use the knowledge that I've gained in the CPSS field to impact this younger generation beyond their academic goals. My goal is to share my experiences and enable peers to become equipped to use their story to help others succeed on their journey to recovery.
Elliot Palmer, NCCPSS
Elliot is a dedicated professional in the field of peer support with the knowledge and skills necessary for supporting individuals who are struggling with substance use disorders and other mental health diagnoses. He is certified in peer support by the State of North Carolina and serves as a peer support training facilitator. Elliot is the founder and lead facilitator of A.N.S.W.E.R. (A New Start While Empowering Recovery) which provides W.R.A.P. (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) training. To date, he has trained hundreds of individuals in peer support and W.R.A.P. plan development, aiding in the promotion of wellness and education. His previous experience in office management highlights his leadership and expertise with interpersonal communication and organization, both required skills in peer support work. He has a commitment to helping others in their recovery efforts and has spent many years doing so, increasing his ability to assist individuals with acknowledging their strengths, identifying community resources, and implementing learned strategies to support health and wellness. He is also trained in housing assistance and other services necessary for assisting peers, in addition to being a motivational speaker, an entrepreneur, and a consultant. Elliot’s experience demonstrates his passion for service and capacity to deliver high-quality education that will prepare individuals for work as a peer support specialist.
Charlotte Swift, NCCPSS
My name is Charlotte Swift. I am a native North Carolinian. My journey to recovery began in 1998, when I found myself on the verge of losing my three children to the DSS system as a result of my cocaine/substance use. I was in a relationship with a man and decided it was time to move on from the relationship. Unfortunate for me, he didn't feel the same way and he literally tried to beat me to death with an iron pole. My mother was afraid for me and my children and called DSS to do an intervention. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but that intervention saved my life. I entered an outpatient treatment program for recovery from substance use. I began to attend NA/AA meetings and it was then that I learned about the disease of addiction. I was able to start a new life for myself and my family. As a result of living a drug free life and learning to love myself (through applying a twelve-step program of action into my life) I have a life beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
I have been afforded the ability to continue my education. I graduated from Fayetteville State University with my B.S. in Criminal Justice. I received my M.S. in Criminal Justice/Corrections from Kaplan University. After many years in the Corrections field, I was introduced to Peer Support by a friend. After researching what peer support is, I made a complete career change. I obtained my NCCPSS Certification in February 2018. I have worked as a CPSS ever since. This has been an amazing journey for me. I can truly say, I love what I do. I know what it is to feel hopeless. I know what it is to feel less than. I know how self-doubt and self-deprivation feels. To see the peers I work with learn to live and enjoy life independently again is by far the best part of my career. I have such an overwhelming desire to help others and I want to help others to reach their full capability through being a NCCPSS Facilitator. Working with others is how I maintain my own recovery and I am forever grateful to know my purpose now.
Sherry Bridges, NCCPSS
Hi, I am Sherry Bridges. I was born in Charleston, WV but have lived in Durham majority of my life. I currently live in Raleigh but remain a proud Durmite. My wellness journey did not start until 2016 when I was diagnosed with depression and I also started experiencing anxiety. It was my wellness journey that helped me to identify the beginning of my traumatic experiences, which started in my childhood. My family on the outside looked like a strong Christian family but behind closed doors there was parent & child domestic violence, sibling & sibling physical violence, a tense environment, and the belief that "what happened here, stays here".
I never processed my childhood until I decided to get help in 2016. It was several years earlier that my depression hit a low and I was struggling with functioning in everyday roles and responsibilities. Alcohol was becoming a secret comfort and I was having more thoughts of escaping from the responsibilities of being a wife and mother. If felt like my marriage was crumbling, work was beyond stressful and taking a toll on me emotionally. I was caring for my father that was dying from AIDS related illnesses, my mother was not handling life well, and I was now raising my niece along with my own son that was having health issues. All of that pushed me to the edge and I still never made the connection that I needed help, not until an anxiety attack put me in my doctor's office the next day.
There was no more running and I was soo tired of being sick and tired. I got the help I needed. I went to therapy, took medication, and received education on what depression and anxiety was and what it looked like in my life. The truth that saved my life was that none of this was my fault, it happened to me not through me.
Today I am using my WRAP to maintain and sustain my wellness along with additional practices such as prayer and reading my bible. My wellness journey has been a path of self-discovery, forgiveness, joy, and a closer walk with God. I strive to not only share my story but to share how I daily strive to overcome every day. As a peer support facilitator, I want to empower you to go out and make a positive difference in the lives you will be serving daily. I want you to believe in yourself and know that no matter what you have experienced in your life, good and bad, that you can use that to impact one life at a time. Your trails are now your testimonies!
Issac Blount, NCCPSS
Isaac A Blount Ill, is a Trained Entrepreneurial Mindset Facilitator, WRAP Facilitator, NC Certified Peer Support Specialist and an Entrepreneur. He is also a Husband and a father of three. He holds a Degree in Social Work from Shaw University and currently runs a Non-profit organization named Redirection CDC. He is Formerly justice-involved and has a passion to add value to others. Isaac was incarcerated in Federal Prison in 1997 for selling drugs leaving his wife at home to raise two young boys. While in prison he suffered from depression and separating anxiety because he had left his family behind and could not provide for them. Once released from prison he had to find employment to support his young family, while his wife supported her husband while dealing with him coming back to re-enter into the community with a label on his back called FELON. He eventually found work and went back to school to get his North Carolina Real Estate Brokers license, North Carolina Insurance License, as well as his degree in Social Work and is now currently working on his Master's Degree in Education. Isaac's life experience, as well as training experience, expresses his passion for service and aptitude to deliver high-quality education that will prepare individuals for work as a peer support specialist.
Latanya DuBois, NCCPSS
Latanya DuBois grew up in the Bronx NY, surrounded by graffiti, drugs and poverty. Her parents struggled with drug addiction and Latanya was left to take care of their mental health and emotional needs all on her own. Overwhelmed with frustration, she coped by fighting, skipping school, falling into abusive relationships and became more and more shut down. Feeling suicidal, angry, unworthy, and completely alone, Latanya tried to cope with counseling sessions, going to church, and leaning on friends. Feeling hopeless she, eventually, ran away from home at the age of 16. Right before her 18th birthday, she gave birth to her son who was soon diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This was the turning point in her life, as she was determined to change the course of their lives for the better. Becoming his advocate launched her public speaking career. Now he is thriving and intelligent young man, aspiring to become a music producer.
Latanya went back to school to get her bachelor's and Master's degrees and is now in the midst of her doctoral years. She started to work at a nonprofit agency in 1996 to give back. During this time, she used her story and her ability to understand others' pain to help them move towards success and positivity in their life. All of this had a huge impact on her own recovery towards inner peace. When she took on the role of group facilitator in 1999, she became more and more in touch with her gifts and talents. She eventually went moved on, working with several non-profits and took on multiple leadership roles. In 2008, she founded Eagle Eye Management, LLC., a full-service consulting and personal development training and coaching firm. She is also the founder of the Embrace Your Experience (E.Y.E.) Project which is a program that support individuals as they explore and overcome the barriers created when we do not allow ourselves to be all that we are so we can do all that we are called to do.
Latanya is a profound advocate for people living with disabilities, overcoming addiction and health disparities and women who have been battered or otherwise abused. It is her hope ·and intention to support those who want to live their highest calling in life and she is dedicated to using her many skills and talents to help them achieve their dreams.
Gertrude Teressa Rice, NCCPSS
I am a native of Cleveland Ohio. I was raised mostly by her grandparents, who strongly believed that you should follow the steps; finishing high school, attend college, get married and have a family. Well my life was not that way at all. My life order was much different. This caused me to develop anxiety. Once I got married and was unable to get pregnant, over time my anxiety and depression symptoms increased.
I went through a period of depression after a miscarriage which was most severe immediately after the pregnancy. I experienced feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopeless, being irritable, frustrated, loss of interest and enjoyment. These were some of the symptoms that plagued my day. I visited specialist and doctors as I continued to experience miscarriages. I visited my primary care doctor who gave me a word of advice; he said I was a strong person and he did not prescribe me any medication. I continued to struggle daily. I came to the realization that I may not be able to have a child. As time passed, I change my focus started exercising.
I started listening to others and reading others' stories about depression and attending a support group. During this time, I found out about foster care. My husband and I decided that we would look into foster care. After taking classes we fostered 3 little boys who were brothers. This helped me channel my focus off myself and think of others. This was the best feeling. It not only helped me through my depression, but it gave me a since of being needed and opportunity to give love to children who brought us so much joy.
In 2015, I started working in the field of Peer Support. I worked as a Peer Support Specialist, group facilitator and a W.R.A.P Facilitator. I have an extensive work experience in the mental health field, working with adults and children with mental health and substance use diagnosis. attended Cleveland Community College where I received an Associates Arts and Associates of Science degree in Early childhood and Psychology, and Gardner Webb University earning my degree in Human Services. Having worked as a Qualified Mental Health Professional, Adult/Child Protective Worker, Foster Care Parent and a foster Care Placement worker, I have gained a wealth of knowledge of community resources and helping community agencies. I have a passion for seeing individuals growing into their best life. She is the owner of Focused Care Inc. (Where HEALING, TEACHING & DISCOVERY COME TOGETHER) which provides Therapy and Peer Support Services. My heart's desire is to see my peers discover their best life.
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