Staff Highlight: Jonathan Allen, CADC, LLBSW

Picture of Jonathan Allen.

I am the Program Manager of the Home of New Vision Engagement Center. I am a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) and have a Limited License as a Bachelor of Social Work. I am currently working on my Master of Social Work degree at Eastern Michigan University.

The Engagement Center is an eight-bed facility for crisis intervention for individuals in need of a supportive environment to stabilize from substance use as an alternative to Emergency Department care. The staff at the Engagement Center work with clients to develop an individualized recovery plan and assists with connection to various community resources and/or treatment providers. We offer a safe and supportive atmosphere where clients may rest and recover, sleep, wash clothes, and eat a meal. Staff at the Engagement Center monitor client’s safety by checking vitals, blood alcohol levels, and withdrawal potential. Our staff works to connect all incoming clients with applicable referrals and works hard to ensure a direct connection to substance use treatment facilities and/or the recovery community. While the average length of stay for clients is typically overnight, some clients are able to stay longer to ensure a smooth connection to their desired pathway to recovery.

As the Program Manager, I am responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operation of the facility by ensuring that all policies and procedures are in place and implemented appropriately by staff. I am fortunate to be able to spend a lot of one-on-one time with clients discussing their goals and helping them formulate plans based on their individual needs. I am blessed to have several supportive colleagues, as well as agencies outside of HNV, that support the goals of the Engagement Center by helping us remove obstacles that stand in the way of clients building recovery capital.  In addition to client care, I work to ensure the program is adequately staffed and that all new hires are trained and confident in performing their roles.

While I manage the Engagement Center, the Program Assistants that work for us really carry this program. We have dedicated staff that have been with the agency for several years who continue to show up daily to support our clients and their goals of finding recovery. Our team consists of roughly twelve other staff members including Preston Ross, our Assistant Manager, and Kelsey Rendell, our Shift Lead, that work tirelessly to support our mission. Oftentimes, it is our Program Assistants that are the first comforting contact at our facility that a client meets upon arrival.

Home of New Vision saved my life plain and simple. I entered their residential treatment program in September of 2011 and have been with the agency in a variety of roles ever since. The program assistants that took care of me when I first entered recovery inspired me to enter this line of work. At the time, I didn’t know that I would go on to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Work, but Home of New Vision is where it all began for me. I wholeheartedly believe that I would have died had it not been for Home of New Vision taking me in when they did. Some of the staff that worked at that facility when I first entered are now dear colleagues and close friends.

Addiction doesn’t care what race, gender, or socioeconomic status you are. Our clients represent our neighbors in our community and the clients that we support are very representative of the general demographics of Washtenaw County. Even in the midst of the opioid epidemic, alcohol is the most common issue for our clients. Many of our clients struggle with housing instability so we spend a great deal of time working to connect clients with recovery-supportive housing.

We have had several clients leave the Engagement Center, enter treatment, and move on to our Recovery Residence program that have really began embracing recovery and meeting their goals in life. I know of several clients who had certainly “hit rock bottom,” as they put it, that are now in recovery, have stable housing, and regained custody of their children. There have been a couple of very inspiring people that used to frequently access the Engagement Center who now have several years in recovery and have chosen to return and work at the Engagement Center to help others. There have been times when the phone or doorbell rings and it is a previous client thanking us for helping them at their worst. These are the miracles that keep us doing what we do.

My wife and I had our first child in April of last year. Her name is August and she is absolutely the best thing to ever happen to me. Just when I thought recovery couldn’t get any better, I was blessed with the most loving and beautiful little girl.

The last thing I’d like to say about my job, or better yet, what my job has taught me, is that you really have no idea the depth of struggle that some people are going through. There are residents in our community that have very little resources, no family to turn to, or any of the privileges that have helped you in your life. Don’t look down on someone unless it is to pick them up.