PERSONAL JOURNEY: Local program helps addicts rebuild lives

Elyssa Davis of Brookville is a recovering addict that sought help rebuilding her life through Goodwill Easterseals of Miami Valley and their Recovery and Employment program. The program helps people struggling with addiction with long term employment solutions

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Elyssa Davis of Brookville is a recovering addict that sought help rebuilding her life through Goodwill Easterseals of Miami Valley and their Recovery and Employment program. The program helps people struggling with addiction with long term employment solutions

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the mental health of many Americans and drug and alcohol abuse is on the rise. But the struggle to recover is ongoing and often involves not only eliminating the use of these substances but also rebuilding broken lives.

Elyssa Davis of Brookville had a bright future ahead when she graduated from the Miami Valley Career Technology Center in 2002 where she trained to become a dental assistant. But once she started living on her own and then got married, she began to struggle with alcohol and drugs.

Though Davis functioned throughout those early years, her instability and what she called her own “personal drama,” ended up getting her terminated from several dental jobs.

“I moved to Florida to live with my mom and go back to school,” Davis said. “Then I ended up going back to my husband.”

Davis tried to recover on her own, but after her marriage ended, she returned to the Dayton area and had difficulty rebuilding her life. Her children remained with her ex and she eventually landed a job in a medical office in Dayton.

“I was feeling unstable, and my addiction got bad,” Davis said. “There were several people in my life that ended up committing suicide because of drugs.”

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Davis’ drug use eventually landed her in prison after she was held accountable for a friend who had overdosed. Her family helped advocate for her and she entered a treatment program.

While on probation, Davis continued to abuse drugs and eventually returned to prison. But many of the programs designed to help addicts were shut down in early 2020 with the onset of the pandemic. That’s when Davis found Goodwill Easterseals of Miami Valley (GESMV) and their new Recovery and Employment program.

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Elyssa Davis of Brookville is a former addict who is working with GESMV during her recovery process. The local program helps recovering addicts secure stable employment.

Elyssa Davis of Brookville is a former addict who is working with GESMV during her recovery process. The local program helps recovering addicts secure stable employment.

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Elyssa Davis of Brookville is a former addict who is working with GESMV during her recovery process. The local program helps recovering addicts secure stable employment.

“The program started in 2019 and is focused on providing employment services for people with alcohol and drug issues,” said Candy Mullins, community employment manager with GESMV. “Since then, we’ve seen it change a lot of lives for the better.”

Including Davis’ who, entered the program at one of the lowest points in her life. Feeling broken but more than ready to move on, she said she was nervous that no employers would give her a chance because of her past mistakes.

“When I started the program in July of 2019,” Davis said. “I told my counselor that I didn’t think I could work in dentistry any longer.”

But Davis was connected with a Goodwill community employment coordinator, who helped her secure interviews, update her resume and gave her advice on getting and keeping a job. The program also rewarded her for remaining employed once she was hired. Working now as a dental assistant in Fairborn, Davis said she doesn’t have to hide her past since everyone in the office is aware and supports her. She credits Goodwill’s program for her success.

Scotty Katzenbach of Dayton has a similar success story. He was working on his addiction recovery in a rehabilitation program and was doing intensive outpatient treatment when he was referred to the Goodwill program.

“I started using drugs in high school,” Katzenbach said. “It started with cigarettes and then I moved on to marijuana and harder drugs after I graduated.”

Throughout this time, Katzenbach tried to work but had little success holding down a job. When he was 19, he got married. His wife helped Katzenbach get clean, but he relapsed.

“I was working and providing for my family,” Katzenbach said. “But I kept getting high using methamphetamine and heroin,’' he said, adding that his wife left him 2019.”

The stress of his marriage falling apart, coupled with the pandemic in 2020 lead to Katzenbach overdosing and becoming homeless. Then he found the Goodwill recovery program, and everything changed.

“I’ve been clean since May 3 of 2020,” Katzenbach said. “Everything has been going well since and Goodwill has played a huge role, helping me get my priorities straight and focus on what’s important, including keeping a job.”

Katzenbach secured a job with a door building company in October of 2020 and has been working full time there since. He is also working on securing a larger home so he can regain custody of his four children, now living with their grandmother.

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Scotty Katzenbach of Dayton started abusing drugs in high school but has been clean since May of 2020. The GESMV program helped him secure a stable job and today he is working to regain custody of his four children.

Scotty Katzenbach of Dayton started abusing drugs in high school but has been clean since May of 2020. The GESMV program helped him secure a stable job and today he is working to regain custody of his four children.

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Scotty Katzenbach of Dayton started abusing drugs in high school but has been clean since May of 2020. The GESMV program helped him secure a stable job and today he is working to regain custody of his four children.

The GESMV Recovery and Education program has helped 430 people regain stable employment since its inception.

“The Goodwill program is great, and I recommend it to anyone who needs help,” Katzenbach said. “Just because one door shuts, doesn’t mean another door won’t open.”

For more information, log on to GEMSV.org

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