Tarusa’s Story

Warner Robins, Georgia

I am Tarusa Stewart, CARES, CPS, and FPM. I am a person in long term recovery, which means I have made better choices in my life because of not using alcohol and any other drugs for 16 years. I have one son. Steven, and have recently married Bernard Stewart. I am on a journey to support recovery by living my recovery out loud as a Recovery Coach to empower other recovery leaders in my community. 

I began working in the recovery field in 2010 at the Phoenix Center for Behavior Health Systems. After two years of employment I was recognized I was recognized as the Employee of the Quarter. I had also worked for the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network as a Forensic Peer Mentor; where I served returning citizens at Baldwin State Prison. I am proud to be part of a community collaborative that has hosted five National Recovery Month events in Middle Georgia. iHOPE is an acronym for Intentional Holistic Opportunities to Promote Empowerment. 
Today I am the founder and Director of iHOPE. The Advisory Team and Board of Directors continue the recovery movement by building peer/ally leadership and recovery partnerships that help keep people well in our communities. In addition to my peer recovery support skills for working with individuals and groups, I am an experienced trainer on the Science of Addiction and Recovery as well as Cultural Competency.
As I sit here pondering how God is at the center of the recovery movement in Middle Georgia, I don’t ever want to forget the people He Used! I want to take a journey to give each of them honor and give God the glory. 
Neil Campbell– Executive Director of GCSA, for showing me what a recovery leader looks like. She will never know how God used her and the CARES program to ignite a light in my soul for recovery and see my purpose. 
Owen Dougherty– For being what I needed on many occasions and an ear when it was getting shaky.
George Braucht– For believing in my ability and iHOPE from the beginning and so many of all the big nuggets he gave me during the process.
Dr. Dietra Hawkins– For the first words she spoke openly and continues to act on, as well as her words at the recovery symposium in 2015′ “I have all these letters behind my name so I can give (pointing to me) people like her a platform and a voice” She continues to give, give, and give in ways people will never know.
CARES 9 Cohort– The Best One- for being such an empowering group of “go-getters” and leaders. 
Second Baptist Church– for allowing iHOPE development stages to begin ubder the cover and gracious space they provided for one whole year, Priceless!