Staff

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CHRIS NEWCOMB

Executive Director

I came to F4R in October 2018 as a Peer Navigator. I have spent many years in recovery seeking and maintaining health and wholeness both mentally and physically. Diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I have had many decades to work on these issues in my life and can easily relate with other people who have similar struggles. Ialso has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

I has been in recovery for alcohol abuse for 20 years. Some of the tools I use to maintain my well-being are deep breathing, Tai Chi, Krav Maga (a martial art), exercise, AA meetings, and healthy eating. Previously I worked for Chesterfield Mental Health Support Services, within the substance abuse wing. I served as a Recovery Coach, helping those who struggle with substance abuse, as well as with the mental health issues that often accompany addiction. Prior to that, I worked for the Coleman Institute, an outpatient detox center in Richmond, as an Aftercare Manager, focusing on providing aftercare plans, recovery coaching, and even shooting videos for the company.

I hold a Bachelors of Arts degree in psychology from Radford University and a Master of Divinity from Duke University. I have also completed my initial DBHDS Peer Recovery Specialist training and am  moving forward in the process of becoming a Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist in Virginia. I will be obtaining my 500 hours of service at F4R, working with my peers and helping them to move forward in a positive direction. I will also be pursuing Trauma-Informed and Intentional Peer Support training in the coming months and am committed to personal and professional development.

I loves cats, Dallas Cowboy's football, Duke basketball, practicing Krav Maga, and being a singer/songwriter who plays several instruments. Most of all, I enjoy time with my wife, family, and friends!

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KATHY WALSH

President of the Board

I am the President of the Board, a Peer Recovery Specialist, a volunteer, and most of all, a peer at Friends 4 Recovery. I grew up in Chesterfield, VA. By the time I was 35, I was addicted to drugs and alcohol. In 1998, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I spent years trying to get clean and learning about bipolar. Finally I did. My clean date is June 13th, 2012. I came to Friends 4 Recovery in 2016. Since being here, I have learned so much about myself and others. I have a lot to offer so I decided to become a Peer Recovery Specialist. I plan on continuing my education in hopes of becoming a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. Friends 4 Recovery gave me my whole life back, along with a lot of hard work and dedication to doing well.

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Cherie Silva

Vice-President of the Board

I am the Vice-President of the Board of Directors at Friends 4 Recovery. I came to F4R after being hospitalized at Tuckers in 2017. I work the front desk, which includes greeting peers and answering the phone. I also help by doing different clerical work, such as putting together the sign-in sheets for the month.

I was diagnosed with depression in 2004. In 2017, I had a major depression episode and panic attack at work. The next day I saw my counselor and she recommended that I go to Tuckers to be hospitalized. After five days at Tuckers, I switched to Tuckers' out-patient services. I had a hard time moving on with my life after being hospitalized. They then referred me to F4R. I started coming for peer support at 1:00 PM. I cried consistently. I started volunteering a year ago. Now I stay all day! I love being with the peers.

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Lindsey Childs

Secretary of the Board

Coming soon

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Kirk Hellrung

Director

I started my recovery from mental health and substance use challenges at Friends 4 Recovery Whole Health Center in 2015. When I first started coming to F4R, I was at my "bottom". I had been in and out of the hospital for close to a year, dealing with my mental health issues. In addition, I was fighting an addiction to drugs. Like many peers at F4R, I have a co-occurring disorder that combines my mental health and substance abuse challenges.

 

My recovery was slow at first. When I started getting back on my feet, I learned about the tools that could aid me in my recovery at F4R. I started going to the "Goals Group" and making goals each week, which inspired me to walk my dogs or go on a bike ride a few times a week. I started becoming proactive and didn't wait for friends/family to push me to stay active.

I took the initiative to continue my education and completed my Associate Degree in Mechatronics from John Tyler Community College at the end 2019. My goal in recovery is to be self-sufficient and pursue happiness. In early recovery, I learned about the opportunity to participate in the Peer Recovery Specialist training. I really liked the idea of helping others with mental health and addiction issues. I was awarded a scholarship to become a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. I volunteered 500 hours here at F4R and The McShin Foundation to get my certification.

I have many friends here at F4R that I have had the pleasure to work with using my CPRS training. I enjoy F4R because it is a peer-to-peer community where everyone can relate to each other, including the staff, the Board of Directors, and the Executive Director. F4R has been a huge help in my recovery and has taught me that I can choose my own path to recovery.

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Mary Fisher

Director

Coming soon

Barbara Royster

Director

I came to Friends 4 Recovery in October of 2018. I was referred by CTI Psychiatric when they diagnosed me with major depression. I also struggled with using cocaine. F4R helped me not to use cocaine anymore. Now that I am clean and sober, I am serving on the Board of Directors.

Friends 4 Recovery helped me in my recovery by hearing stories from other peers who struggle with the same thing I had been dealing with every day. People at F4R encourage and assist each other so that they can go out into the community and become productive citizens. Now that I am here at F4R, I want to become a certified peer specialist and to give back to the community that which society gave to me. I look forward to continuing to serve on the Board of Directors.

Mina Padilla

Hispanic Peer and Outreach Coordinator

My name is Guillermina Padilla. I'm originally from Honduras and moved to Richmond, VA in 2001. My many years of working in my country as a social worker have been very helpful on my beautiful journey at Friends 4 Recovery. My current position at F4R is: Hispanic Peer Outreach Coordinator. I came to F4R referred to by Mrs. Monica Estrada, who was my therapist at Chesterfield Mental Health department. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety back in 2009. Mrs. Monica was a great help to me. I'm very happy now that I can be a help to others.

As a peer specialist, I spend my days at F4R with new possible peers, peer members, and colleagues. My expertise is providing peer support to our members in any and all difficult and emotional situations, like: family troubles, struggles at work, and marital problems. I also assist people that have just arrived to this beautiful country and have a very hard time adjusting to their new life. In our peer meetings, we work together creating action plans that will help them move on in the best possible way. I also teach a Spanish class to anyone interested in learning. I am also very proud to run our Mothers of Autistic Children Group Support.

Some interesting facts about myself are: love gardening in my house! I have planted all kinds of flowers and vegetables. I enjoy singing and I'm actually pretty good at it! I'm learning how to play the piano on my own as well!

Maria Howk

Peer Navigator

I started my journey of recovery on June 19, 2016. I remember this date clearly because it was my last day in the grips of my drug addiction. I lost everything I ever cared about and most of all, I lost myself. I self-medicated with street drugs for 10 years. I thought drugs would fix my manic depression and anxiety. I never felt like I belonged and just couldn't fit in with the other kids in school. I was a loner and stayed to myself. I got bullied a lot for my weight and the way I looked. Because of this, at the age of 13, I started starving myself, exercising, wearing a lot of makeup, and changing my outfits.

I got introduced to weed and alcohol. I felt like it fixed my problems and I finally fit in somewhere. At the age of 17, I got into doing heroin and (later on) crack-cocaine. I thought everything was great, until I started feeling suicidal and getting into trouble. I've been to the psych-ward 5 times. I've been to jail 6 times.

It wasn't until my last time in jail that I knew I needed to do something different. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. When I got out of jail, I moved from Richmond to Hopewell and started over. I started going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings every day. I was later introduced to Peer Support at Friends 4 Recovery. I didn't know what I was getting into, I just knew at that time in my recovery I was dealing with chronic back pain and was isolating myself a lot. Though I was clean from drugs, I was in miserable pain.

I started volunteering a little bit just to get myself out of the house. I started attending the peer support group and other classes F4R offered. Although I was in pain, I started to feel a little hopeful. My friend said I would be a good Peer Support Specialist and encouraged me to take the course. I eventually did and I loved it. I never would have dreamed about sharing my experiences, strength, and hope with others to help them.

My whole life is revolved around recovery and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm so glad I found recovery; I can do things that I enjoy that keep me doing well. I love fishing, going to the beach or pool, tanning, and swimming. I love listening to music to help soothe my mind. My favorite animals are white tigers and cats. I like getting artwork inked on my body to remind me of who I am. Shopping and going to the gym on rainy days is a must. My favorite restaurant is Texas Roadhouse! My life is full of gratitude. I am accepted for who I am and have finally found somewhere I belong.

To anyone suffering in silence, there is another way.