ChooseWell Communities – Pathways to Purpose
Amanda Zilka Amanda was born in New York City in 1987, but calls Louisville Kentucky “home.” Following her grandmother’s death in 2006, she found comfort in drinking, fully unaware of her alcoholism. Within ten years, her alcoholism quickly took over her life and destroyed it. Beaten down and broken by her illness, She found sobriety and hope at the Women’s Healing Place (Louisville) on May 11, 2016. After completing their program and working as their staff assistant in mid 2017, Amanda joined Choosewell Communities. It was her stepping stone and guidance while transitioning back into society and motherhood. Since then, she has regained full custody of her youngest child, became certified as a peer support specialist and has been helping other mothers in recovery, as well as becoming an emerging visual artist. As of July 2019, she has her own art studio, Kwiot Panda’s Art Studio LLC. Choosewell Communities gave her the foundation to achieve all these things and more.
Mary Wilkins Mary (Nisey) Wilkins is a “hope dealer” committed to bringing solutions, support and accountability to parents in early recovery who are navigating the joys of parenthood, personal growth and community-building. Nisey is a grateful wife and mom of 2 amazing boys (Timothy Jr – 9; and Zaelynn – 3) with over 2 years of continuous sobriety. She builds on her own recovery journey, her lived experiences and her skill as a state-certified Peer Support Specialist to lead other ChooseWell Community moms who are working on the specialized work team at Facilities Management Services as they commit to building thriving new lives for themselves and their children. She has been a Founding Mother in ChooseWell’s Project Thrive since June, 2017.
Stephanie Barnett Stephanie Barnett is a “Compassion Warrior”, healthcare solutions architect, and spiritual director. For more than three decades, Stephanie has provided leadership to healthcare organizations in a variety of corporate, operational and business development roles. In 2014, she co-founded ChooseWell Communities, a Louisville KY-based non-profit that creates and nurtures a community of kinship with parents navigating early recovery while they create safe, healthy and nurturing homes for their very young children. She and her husband, Danny, have six kiddos who have been her greatest supporters and teachers!
Jennifer Coombs Jennifer Coombs is the VP of HR and Operations for FMSpbc. She has been with FMS for 9 years. During that time she has been a part of the growth and innovation at FMS, growing from 300 employees to over 900. Her passion for people and purpose has allowed her to play a role in defining FMS as socially conscious business. In 2016, FMS earned its status as a B-Corp and became the first Janitorial Company in the world to become a Certified Benefit Corporation. FMS’ social mission is “to provide opportunity and access for our team members and help the communities where we live thrive”. It is this mission that drives Jennifer to work with her team, her customers and the community to find innovative ways of doing business while addressing social issues that folks face every day. Jennifer is married with three young children and lives in Louisville, KY. A city known for its commitment to compassion.
Cassandra D. Harris-Gray Cassandra D. Harris Gray is the CEO and co-founder of Creative Spirits Behavioral Health, an outpatient substance abuse, mental health, and violence prevention center dedicated to helping individuals transform their lives through emotional, physical and spiritual healing. She utilizes a holistic, transformative approach to care by bringing hope and healing through therapeutic and community supports including peer support, case managers, and employment specialist. She is a gifted author, columnist, lecturer, counselor, corporate trainer, adjunct professor and workshop conference leader. She has 25 years of experience in behavioral and mental health services as a Marriage and Family Therapist Associate, Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Mrs. Harris-Gray has authored and published her first book “90 Days of Power.” She is the developer and host of her own web-show “In the Multitude of Counsel” which helps demystify the stigma of mental health and substance abuse. Her personal mission is to help individuals reach their full purpose, discover the uniqueness of their best selves through mental health, spiritual wellness, and self discovery, “transforming lives into their creative spirit”.
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Workshops Session II
Through a shared impact, community collaborative model, ChooseWell Communities shares its experiences in accelerating the educational and vocational pursuits of its program participants. CWC launched with the impact initiative to eliminate housing insecurity and accelerate the educational and vocational pursuits for 25 parents with at least one child under the age of three who were in early recovery. Hear the stories from two “Founding Mothers” about how CWC’s community collaborations positioned them for successful reunification with their children and a promising pathway to purpose-filled work. Also learn how two employers have benefited from their collaboration with CWC and its Founding Families.