PRN Founder and CEO
Promise Resource Network is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to transform the approach to recovery from mental illness, substance use, and trauma, by focusing on wellness, not illness. Your donation will help us live our mission every day through individualized recovery support, education programs and advocacy, allowing us to change lives and change the way society approaches recovery.
I began struggling with substance use disorder when I was ten years old and after numerous arrests, overdoses, damaged relationships, and failed attempts at staying clean on my own, I chose to make a change. I asked for help. Shortly after getting clean, I began working for a sober living house and then an inpatient facility.
In 2015 I began an amazing journey with PRN, bringing with me 25 years of Human Service experience and a Master of Science, Rehabilitation Counseling Degree. However, my willingness to live out and share my lived experiences is the vital part of what I offer. I am a Trauma Survivor, a trauma that would leave me with significant experiences with Grief & Loss, Judicial and Social Service Systems involvement, Media and Community harsh judgement upon myself and my family.
I am also a person in long term recovery from the Family Disease Side of Substance Use Disorder. In the confusion and chaos of living with active users, I lost my spirit, my peace. Life was a survival game, fear is where I lived, Narcan placed strategically around my home, like prized decorations. My spiritual recovery began in the rooms of Al-Alon, where I worked my own 12-step program with sponsorship. These experiences have given me multiple opportunities to work with parents and families who are walking this road of fear, seeing no hope. PRN has provided a healing platform for me, as I continue my Recovery Journey to wellness and as I use my lived experience to spark Hope in the people and the communities we support.
Upon my release from incarceration in 2014, after five years as an incarcerated person and a person on a journey of long-term, self-defined recovery from substances; I decided the disparities that accompanied reentry, recovery and wellness were going to be just one more obstacle I could and would overcome. Because of my lived experience of incarceration, wellness, and recovery, I’m now a Certified Peer Support Specialist.
As a CPSS I am able to work in Treatment Courts in Mecklenburg County where I share my lived experience, inspire hope in others, advocate for and with peers, share and make community resources, walk with individuals during system involvement and along their recovery and wellness journey; in addition to de-stigmatizing system involvement and the recovery/wellness journey by being transparent with court staff and participants about my personal reentry, recovery and wellness.
I do this work because I believe that “those closest to the problems are also closest to the solution.” – G. Martin (no relation to me)
My life was forever changed when I began my journey at PRN in 2015. After 14 years in the Non-Profit sector, I discovered the Trauma Informed approach to Wellness I was seeking to be a part of. My personal approach to wellness is through utilization of self-reflection and education, and PRN has allowed me the space and opportunity to practice and witness wellness daily. I am honored to be along for the growth of this great organization and the individuals supported.
I have the wonderful pleasure to be the Human Resources Director of PRN. I’ve been in the corporate HR world going on 20 + years but, have always yearned to be in an environment that’s mission and vision were more parallel with my own personal journey and philosophies. And thus, the opportunity opened at PRN in which I humbly became part of a world that allowed me to balance my human resource experience, lived experience and peer support.
This combination has allotted me the privilege of being able to put the “human” in human resources. But most importantly, it has given me the opportunity to align myself with hope, recovery and connection.
I currently reside in Greensboro, NC. I’m an artist, an activist and a healer with a strong passion for mental health and social justice through an intersectional lens. I’ve had a long personal history with multiple complex traumas which impacted my mental health from a very early age. My experiences with the various disorders I struggled with as a result of those traumas, often left me feeling like a curse and that my life wasn’t worth living. I also learned that vulnerability can be a gift...that our stories have meaning and can give others hope too.
My interest in mental health began in my preteens, while I was in the midst of my own mental health struggles and trauma. My interest and curiosity in understanding the brain, emotions…the human condition, ultimately led me to where I am now. In 2019, I began my journey with PRN, and what a journey it has been. PRN is everything I could have dreamed of and everything I didn’t know I needed.
Volunteering with PRN allows me to combine my professional skills with my personal passion for helping individuals, families, and communities learn that overall health includes both physical and mental wellness.
I am in recovery from a mental health diagnosis first given to me when I was 16 years old. At the time, the need for mental health care was viewed as a moral issue and not the medical issue that it is. As a result, I thought there must just be something wrong with me as a person. I didn’t know that the diagnosis did not define me any more, or any less, than being told what my blood type is, or what the color of my hair is. My personal experience fuels my volunteerism and professional passion to contribute to the creation of healthier individuals, families, and communities. Professionally, I have held multiple leadership roles with public or behavioral health agencies at local, state and regional levels and I am certified as a Prevention Specialist through state and international licensing boards.
Shortly after I became a public defender in 1993 I quickly realized how important understanding mental health is to achieving the best outcome for my clients. I became involved in a committee of folks from, what was then called, area mental health and a few public defenders.
We began trying to understand each other’s language. It was a slow start but over the years we formed relationships which helped both agencies achieve best results. I later created a felony court program which addresses incarcerated clients’ mental health and addiction issues while at the same time obtaining their early release. Now I serve as the defense attorney in district and superior treatment courts as well as Wellness Court, a mental health court. Promise Resource Network has come alongside my clients as a peer support specialist and that is one of the main reasons why treatment courts are so successful! Because Promise Resource network is peer run, peer support can focus on what is possible instead of operating within a system with limitations where too often many things are seen as not possible. PRN rejects the view of traditional treatment systems that foster dependency and low expectation but rather focuses on the eight dimensions of wellness, recovery and self-determination. I have suffered from anxiety for most of my life and I have learned a lot from the peer support specialists at PRN. PRN has made me a better professional and advocate for my clients. PRN has made me better personally by giving me a better vision of what wellness really looks like. The sky is the limit for Promise Resource Network and I am beyond thrilled to be a part of it!
I have two decades of experience in the mental health and substance use disorder treatment, recovery, and policy field. In these roles, I directed the development of policies and initiatives that increased opportunities for community inclusion, self-determination, and recovery.
I served as the Assistant Director for Consumer Policy for the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, where I was the key policy advisor for individuals across the substance use disorders, developmental disabilities, and mental health systems. I has been active in the recovery community for over 30 years, and my life and career reflect an ongoing commitment to self-determination and self-actualization.
I moved to Charlotte in 2006 from San Diego and found myself depressed and dealing with a lot of anxiety due to past trauma. I volunteered to facilitate classes and was eventually hired by Promise Resource Network.
I work at the Welcome Desk and greet people as they come to Promise Resource Network. Because of my past experience with domestic violence and childhood abuse sharing this information could help others with their issues. Promise Resource Network is a great place to work and I am glad to be a part of the team.
I came to Promise Resource Network in the winter of 2013. As someone who identifies with mental health and trauma, I was humbled to become part of the PRN. While working here I use the skills I built in my own recovery to help others find their resiliency and path to wellness.
As an educator and Certified Peer Support Specialist, I have the opportunity to share recovery at Promise Resource Network (PRN) and in community programs that serve people experiencing mental health and/or substance use challenges. Teaching is my passion and I understand how amazing it is to stand in my purpose.
I have over 30 years in the human service field and have been married for 28 years to my sweet Sandy. I am blessed to have 29 years of sobriety and over a decade of living in mental health recovery. Love and laughter are the pillars of my recovery. I am a self-proclaimed serenity seeker and I insist on having fun.
I spent my life in the "Program". The Program of not-enoughness, lack, judgment, and fear. I took these ideas as my truth, and in that emotional/mental pit of despair, I turned to all the drugs and distractions to avoid the root of my discomfort, my own belief that I wasn't worthy of living on this Earth. I did (and still do) the work to clear, heal, and love my traumas and lived experience. I have tried all the ways to wellness and self-love that I could handle.
I got my BS in Psychology and became RYT 200, and I’m always looking into new ways to align the body, mind, and spirit so that I will never fall for the harmful propaganda of self-loathing that’s in our society. In fact, after I discovered that Jane was worthy of living and thriving, I couldn’t not offer support, tools, and my story to anyone and everyone who would accept me.
That’s when I found PRN, where I volunteered, coincidentally found my family, and now get to share multiple classes a week. I intend to reconnect us with our joyful and courageous nature to follow our life purpose and passion. I use creativity, meditation, and sound healing to add pleasure and play to my offerings. My purpose is to be an active participant in nurturing a global community that’s connected with the thread of love, acceptance, compassion, and creativity.
I first came to holistic wellness when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at the young age of 21. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and was ready to find ways to take care of myself. It was then that I discovered the power of slowing down, and taking daily action to take care of my mind and body. Now a 500-hr registered Therapeutic Yoga Instructor and Wellness Coach, I utilize mindfulness, meditation, herbalism, and yoga to guide others on their path of wellness.
In addition to my mindfulness-based services, I created Jean’s ApotheCare, a holistic body-care and lifestyle brand located in Charlotte, NC.
From my wellness services to my herbal creations, my mission remains the same, to help you live in a way that nurtures your body and mind.
I came to PRN in the Spring of 2014 with 10 years of accounting experience. After being a stay-at-home mom for 12 years, I decided to go back to work part time. I enjoy helping others which makes PRN is a perfect place for me. I perform the accounting functions of PRN, which has grown since I started. I love the mission of PRN and how they help everyone with recovery and without judgment. I am happy to be part of the caring PRN family.
I became a NC Certified Peer Support Specialist in 2014 with a lived experience of substance use. I formally had been incarcerated for 17 years in federal prison. Once released I experienced homelessness and eventually engaged in a Supportive Housing Program that provided me the opportunity to be introduced to PRN.
After obtaining my Certification in Peer Support and I was able to work as a Peer Navigator providing Peer Support to Men and Women in the N.C. Dept. of Corrections and Federal Prison. Upon meeting Cherene Caraco, CEO of PRN, I was able to share my recovery story with her.
After several conversations, I had the opportunity to come to work for PRN as a Peer Support Specialist for Mecklenburg County S.P.C. Housing Program. Through my lived experience, I am able to assist others in similar situations and introduce the possibility of recovery. To convey that recovery isn’t only possible, but probable.
My recovery journey has been challenging for me throughout life after battling schizophrenia, using alcohol, drugs, and experiencing homelessness. The early years of being unwell were hard and confusing for me because no one in my family knew what was happening to me and did not know how to help. Having been involved with PRN for over 19 years as someone who received services from them and eventually becoming an employee, I can say that the recovery principles they helped me incorporate in my life have been an incredible healing journey.
I currently work with people experiencing homelessness in the SPC program and shelter programs in Mecklenburg County. By sharing my lived experience with those served, we are able to establish trust and connection in whatever they are going through and know that I can help because I have been where they are. My mantra is: HOPE IS THE KEY TO THE NEXT DAY. I always want to instill hope with those I walk with in their journey.
My first experiences with depression came as a child but I wasn't aware of what I was feeling at the time. I felt pressure to present an image of a high achiever and someone who always had their stuff together. I began experimenting with alcohol as a teenager and it 'seemed' to help. My substance use escalated throughout college and became a daily activity post-graduation even though I worked in the world of mental health treatment and substance use services.
After about 10 years of increasing alcohol use and the increasing stress and depression associated, I felt I had no way out and tried to escape through taking my own life. This led to entering many treatment facilities, medication management (often over medicated), electric shock treatments and disability. With a lot of support and through learning about myself and how to manage, I returned to work full time and was able to let go of my disability benefits.
My greatest joy is sharing my experiences with others going through difficult challenges so that people know they are not alone and that it is ok to share with others and reach out for support.
I am a person in long-term recovery from substance use challenges, as well as multiple, complex traumas beginning in childhood and throughout my life. I have also experienced homelessness, hospitalizations, suicide attempts, self-harm, incarceration, domestic and gun violence, and not being able to raise some of my children. I was introduced to PRN in 2015 when I was a participant in one of Mecklenburg County’s Recovery Courts. It was one of their CPSS that planted the seed that I could be a CPSS one day.
In February 2010, after going to numerous doctors for several years, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder and fired from my job while in outpatient therapy. At that time I was at one of the lowest points of my life and the psychological trauma took years to understand and accept. At the beginning of my journey I thought I would never work again, have a family, or achieve the goals that I had worked so hard for in the past.
While attending individual therapy sessions and taking medication, I applied for disability because I was convinced I was not capable of holding down a job and would never work again. However, one day while talking to my therapist at Pinnacle Pointe she provided me with information to Promise Resource Network and suggested that I give it a try. I was extremely skeptical at first but I decided to give it a try and I am so glad I did. Day by day I could feel myself getting stronger emotionally, physically, intellectually, and socially.
During my time at Promise Resource Network I took the Certified Peer Support Specialist training and earned enough credits from other classes to become a Peer Support Specialist. While I continued to take classes at PRN I also had an opportunity to volunteer at the front desk and was given the role of Volunteer Coordinator. These opportunities gave me a sense of purpose, helped me build confidence, and work alongside my peers. Shortly, after taking on the role as Volunteer Coordinator I was presented with another opportunity to work as a contract employee for PRN’s warm-line during Covid-19. I can’t begin to tell you how much the warm-line has changed my life. Supporting others the way I was supported using the things I have learned through my lived experiences and classes at PRN has given me a second chance for new beginnings.
Over the past 10 years I’ve been institutionalized voluntarily and involuntarily. I know how it feels to carry shame about something you think you have no control over. However, I also know that recovery is possible when you have the necessary tools, support system, and coping skills. My lived experience along with medication, group therapy, and individual therapy have allowed me to develop skill sets to be successful in my day-to-day life and touch others in a positive manner at the same time.
I have served eleven years as a Physical Education and Health Teacher in the public school system and two as the Director of Emerald School of Excellence. My passion comes from amazing mentors and coaches that helped me to obtain leadership roles and find creative ways to keep students engaged. I strive to help students become lifelong learners and focus on supporting a young person's mind, body, and soul.
This led me down a path to help students in recovery from substance use and co-occurring disorders. I personally had a tough time in high school; even though I was a strong soccer player, I battled anorexia, depression, and self-harm.
In high school, I ruled out college for myself and barely made it through my senior year. Therefore, finding alternatives is so very important to me and I know that it works based on my own lived experience.
I believe in strong core values and providing students with the necessary tools to face the inevitable challenges that life brings. I currently get to do this at Emerald School of Excellence through educating young people in recovery. I have an amazing staff and team that help drive the vision to ensure that the students we teach, are well-equipped for a healthy and bright future. Once you enroll at Emerald, you are a part of our family forever!
I was first introduced to the mental health care system at 12 years old. Through my own mental health and substance use journey, I learned firsthand what the mental health care system was lacking: expertise by experience. I have worked at multiple recovery centers in North Carolina with both adult and adolescent populations.
I am currently the Director of Administration at Emerald School of Excellence, the Carolinas’ first Recovery High School. I also work at Promise Resource Network as the Resource Development Liaison. In both of these positions, I witness firsthand the power of peer recovery support.