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#LocalCharacter: Jessie Spaulding

“I think my drive, willingness to help others, and advocating for change in the community helped me in getting hired.” These are the words of Jessie Spaulding, Fresh Start Case Manager and Peer Recovery Support Specialist at Southwestern Regional Day Report center. Jessie has been involved with the Fresh Start program since he was a drug court client, and he was noticed by others for his hard work in Mingo County.

Giving People a Fresh Start

The Fresh Start program helps those in the area struggling with addiction by, among other things, connecting them with the tools for recovery, as well as education opportunities and preparation for the workforce. Participants in the program also receive a food handlers card and Narcan training.

As part of his work for the Fresh Start program, Jessie helps participants set and meet education goals, build their resumes, and develop skills such as gardening and craftsmanship. He also works with the Williamson Health and Wellness Center and Williamson Farmer’s Market to connect them with mentors throughout the community. Community projects are also important for those involved in Fresh Start. “We find community projects to get the participants involved with, to make that community connection,” He says. So far, community projects have included preparing the new Farmers Market location in Williamson last year and painting the historic jail in Matewan.

Making a Change

For Jessie, the most important part of what he does is “giving back the voice of the voiceless, and watching the growth in their connection with family, friends, and community.” It’s important to him to be an inspiration for change in the lives of others, and with Fresh Start, he has plenty of chances to help others grow. When asked what his favorite memory from Fresh Start is, he describes the graduation of some of the most recent participants. “All 3 graduates are employed and involved in their children’s lives now.”

When he’s not working, Jessie enjoys running and walking, as well as spending time with his family. He often runs with his grandson in races, and says that “Death Rock is one of the best hikes I’ve been on.” Most of all, he enjoys being a part of the community. “I enjoy being in the community and being of service to others...I enjoy being part of a community that has not judged me for my past, but accepted me for the change that I want in our community.”

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