Exodus Homes, a faith-based United Way agency that provides 82 beds of faith based supportive housing to homeless recovering people returning to the community from treatment centers and prisons now has two certified Peer Support Specialists in its staff team. The Rev. Reggie Longcrier, Executive Director of the agency, and James Moore, Program Director, recently completed 120 hours of training at the Smoky Mountain Center in Lenoir to earn the new credential that is changing the way mental health services are provided. The certification was granted by the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services.
The role of a Peer Support Specialist (PSS) is to use personal experience with recovery from mental illness and substance abuse to help others who are struggling with the same issues. PSS have life experience and expertise in recovery that professional training cannot replicate. PSS are employed in a variety of settings including Assertive Community Treatment Teams, Community Support Teams, Recovery Education Centers, and advocacy roles.
Exodus Homes is a model peer-led recovery supportive housing program which is primarily funded and operated by the residents themselves. The world of substance abuse treatment has evolved to recognize the expertise of successful recovering people, and their value in helping those who still struggle with addiction. This has been working for over 70 years in the 12 step movement. Exodus Homes was founded in 1998 on the premise that successful recovering people are experts in mentoring their peers who are trying to learn a new way to live.
Longcrier began his recovery from addiction over 25 years ago, and James Moore has been a resident of Exodus Homes for four years. Both plan to use what they learned to improve the Exodus Homes program, and demonstrate the commitment to ongoing training for its staff. As a result of this training, a new support group for residents with over one year in recovery was added to the program at Exodus.
Ongoing training is very important to the organization. Six members of the staff team recently completed a 16 hour Mental Health First Aide training which helped them with assessment and referral in crisis situations.”We are experts in recovery, and we will continue to bring the very best information for improving services into our program, ” said Longcrier.