My name is Claudia Hamilton, and I’m a person in long term recovery. What that means for me is that it has been over 8 years since I’ve used alcohol or other drugs to change the way I feel. Today I’m a better mom, a better wife, a better member of my community. I have an awesome life today. I have lots of opportunities that others don’t have. Over the course of my recovery, I have watched many around me struggle because they don’t have many of the supports that I have. I always wanted to do something to help, and I have helped one-on-one, but I wanted to do something bigger.
I never knew how, until I went through the Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist (CARES/CPS-AD) training, and became a Certified Peer Specialist in addictive disease. It was in that training that I first heard about the recovery symposium that was being organized in northwest Georgia, and where I learned about recovery community organizations (RCOs). I wanted to get involved, and jumped in feet first. Through the recovery symposium, I got connected and reconnected with the people in my community. Some of them I’ve known all my life, and some I just learned about how they are connected to the recovery community. I attended the Recovery Community Organization Network meeting, and learned about what other people across Georgia are doing, and what’s happening across the country.
I know we need something a little different up in Rome, where the Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital closed a few years back, and it seems like a lot of people just aren’t doing as well as they could be. In the one-on-one work I’ve been doing, and in the feedback we got from the community at the symposium, I’ve heard a lot from returning citizens about really basic supports that they need to get to a happy, productive, fulfilling life. I want that for them. I want everybody to have the opportunities I’ve had. So I’ve started pulling together the people from around Rome, and in a really short time we’ve made really great progress. We’re in talks with a church right now that has an empty building we may be able to begin using soon to start providing some peer support services, free of charge. That space might not be the one, but we will find a space, because I really believe that this is the way we can make a difference.