Barbara Jones has been a Recovery Support Specialist (RSS) at Sojourner House for 15 years. Her commitment to the women and families at Sojourner House comes directly from her life experiences as the child of an alcoholic, her 28 years of sobriety, and decades of service in the mental health field.
As an RSS, Barbara provides residents in recovery and their children with supportive services – including education and guidance during daily activities – while looking out for their safety.
She previously spent 42 years working at Western Psychiatric Hospital. During 10 of those years, she worked at Sojourner House simultaneously. Though technically a retiree, Barbara intends to continue at Sojourner House. She believes that she was divinely led to our organization.
We talked with Barbara about the work she loves. Here’s what she had to say:
How did you learn about Sojourner House?
I came to Sojourner House to do a Narcotics Anonymous presentation because I am in recovery. So I came to Sojourner House as a volunteer and thought, “Oh, this is such a beautiful, wonderful place. I could work here.”
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I am over 28 years clean and have that in common with the women. I let them know that I am them and they are me. If I can do it, they can do it. Their mom or grandma can do it. I survived and you can survive too. Sometimes the road seems rough and it’s not always rosy, but we can recovery. That’s the bottom line. I’m there to let them know that they can do this. I believe that God placed me here for this purpose.
What is challenging about your job?
Some of these women and their children need more services. And that’s challenging. Also, I am 72. I worked 42 years at Western Psych. For 10 of those years I worked two jobs. So sometimes it’s not easy, but it’s rewarding. At some point, I will retire. I don’t know when, because I enjoy my job.
I believe that God put me in this position. I believe in being there to be supportive. I love the women. I don’t give up on them and I don’t want them to give up.
What is your proudest moment at Sojourner House?
My proudest moments are when I see the women that have successfully completed the program out and about. I see them in a store or I see them in a meeting, and they run up to me. They ask, “ Miss Barb, how are you?” It is so wonderful to see them and their children living their new lives.
How would those closest to you describe you?
I have a small family. My son always tells me I’m an inspiration and that he’s proud of me. I broke the cycle of addiction. I came from a dysfunctional family. My mom was an alcoholic and it wasn’t always easy. I had my daughter at a young age, got into drugs, and I was able to stop. I was able to surrender and realize this is not what I wanted to do. It’s not what my life was meant to be.
My daughter saved my life. My son saved my life. When I was struggling with drugs my daughter took me to my first meeting. I was sick and tired of myself. It gave me the ability to change and do something different to help myself. I’ve been on the road of recovery ever since. I continue to keep going.
I have a son, a daughter, and a grandson, and they’re proud of me. They’re my gifts. That’s what I tell the women. “Your children are your gifts. They can save your life.”
What is one thing you can’t live without?
Personal motto or any words you live by?
“Live happy, joyous, and free.”
And my daughter brought me this bracelet for Mother’s Day that says, “Positive mind, positive life.”
What do you enjoy in your spare time?
I go to meetings. I read, relax, and spend time with my friends. I’m only partly retired, so I’m still trying to learn how to live and enjoy life.
When I retire my son wants to buy us a house. He wants me to sit on a porch, relax, get fresh air, and learn to garden.
Anything on your bucket list?
I just want to live a happy, healthy, joyous life. My dream is to just be able to enjoy life and be of help to somebody.
Your dream vacation?
Somewhere on an island that’s peaceful and beautiful. Eating some delicious seafood right out of the ocean.