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Helping Others Recover Through Experience

September 17, 2012, 7:06 PM by Perry Groten

Helping Others Recover Through Experience
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

Jenny Williams is the first face you'll see at Face It Together.  She's the agency's Director of First Impressions. It's a position she never expected she would hold when she first arrived seeking help for her own addition to methamphetamine. 

Anyone who enters Face It Together is greeted by Williams on the other side of the door.

"C'mon in, let's talk," Williams said.

As Director of First Impressions, Williams helps Face It Together clients begin their journey toward sobriety.

"I'm the one that's supposed to make you comfortable and relaxed here and let you know this is a good place to come to," Williams said.

Williams followed an unlikely career path that took her from the depths of despair to the front desk.

"Never, ever thought I'd be in this spot," Williams said.

Williams was addicted to meth in 1995.  She forged checks to support her habit, a crime that landed her in prison.

"I got to repent, so to speak, for all my crimes.  So when I came out of prison, I felt really good about myself," Williams said.

But that good feeling, didn't last.  Williams' meth addiction spiraled out of control a second time in 2006, when her 20-year-old son committed suicide.

"I think it's harder on suicide for a mom because you have that guilt, that you weren't there for them," Williams said.

A drug-related crash put a grieving Williams back in prison.

"Being a former addict and not knowing how to cope with the loss, it was very easy for me to go back to the drug and say 'screw it,'" Williams said.

Following her release from prison, she found out about Face It Together.

"I was in my after-care program and they told us about this new place in town and they do this telephone recovery where they call you once a week.  And I thought, 'well, you know, I could probably do that,'" Williams said.

Volunteering once a week led to part-time work and eventually a full-time position as a Face It Together Director.

"And something happened in that time from hanging out here and watching people come in and out and realizing that I was connected to all the clients that came in.  And I was able to say, 'yeah, I've been there.  Yeah, I did that.  Yeah, I know what you're talking about,'"  Williams said.

Now instead of receiving those telephone recovery calls, she's the one making them.

"And we all know that you're only as sick as the secrets you keep.  So as long as they're able to get that stuff out to someone, we're anonymous to them.  So it's just another addict on the other line talking to them," Williams said.

Williams also helps Face It Together clients with their job search.

"We'll get them on the computers out there, get a resume written up, which is really important.  We do a cover letter for them explaining the gaps in their employment, if they've been away, if they have a felony," Williams said.

Williams started a support group made up of other Native Americans who meet every Friday night. It's called a "talking circle," a circle being a very important spiritual symbol in Native culture.

"If we could just get a sober, clear mind and practice some of our cultural ways, it would keep us sober; it keeps me sober," Williams said.

The memory of her son also keeps Williams sober.

"I think today I stay sober for my son.  I wish I could have when he passed away.  Many people told me, 'Jenny, your son wouldn't want you like this.'  And I couldn't see that at the time; I was hurting so bad," Williams said.

Williams says with the help of Face It Together, she's been meth-free for three-and-a-half years.  To this Director of First Impressions, a successful recovery has left a lasting impression.

"All I have is today and today is a good day, and today is a good day to be sober," Williams said.

Williams says she didn't think she had anything to offer when she first became involved with Face It Together. But then she realized what a powerful difference one person can make in the life of another who's facing a drug or alcohol problem.

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