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The PEER Center’s 2015 Top 10 List

Top 10


2015 was a great year for all of us at The PEER Center. Here are the top ten things we accomplished:

10. Launched New Website

The PEER Center has refreshed its website and blog for 2015. All the new features can be found by visiting us online at www.ThePEERCenter.org.

9. Social Media Growth of Over 30% Across the Board

2015 saw an average of 30% growth in our social media engagement.  Our Facebook and Twitter gained lots of new followers and interaction has increased tremendously.  We introduced our YouTube Channel (watch here), and our e-mail list had substantial growth, as well. (Sign up here!

8. Community Involvement at All-Time High

Staff and volunteers from The PEER Center were quite active in our community this year, taking part in such events as the National Night Out (NNO), having a booth at the Ohio State Fair, and attending many community health fairs and events.

We presented at various conferences all over Ohio and our Peer Outreach Program (POP!) continued to let peers in our community know we are here for them.

7. Power of Hope Community Presentation

The PEER Center, in conjunction with NAMI Franklin County and COVA, helped put on a free panel discussion for members of the central Ohio community. The Power of Hope panel included people living with mental illness, people with addiction concerns, family members, and a social worker.

The panel was moderated by Dr. Kevin Dixon from ADAMH of Franklin County.

6. Peers as Professionals Education Program in Conjunction with OhioMHAS

The PEER Center, in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), offered Peers As Professionals, a CEU eligible educational program discussing the issues surrounding being a person living with mental illness, addiction, and/or trauma in the workplace.

Missed the training? See the video series on our You Tube Channel.


TPC Family With Santa


5. Launched PEERchampions 

In 2015 we launched the PEERchampions program to allow people to join us in supporting peers in Ohio.

PEERchampions are dedicated advocates, volunteers, and community members who want to help support the recovery journeys of people living with mental illness, addiction, and trauma in central Ohio. Join today by clicking here.

4. PEERdance a Huge Success

On October 17, 2015, The PEER Center held our 2nd Annual fundraiser and 1st annual PEERdance at the Westin Columbus Downtown.  It was a beautiful event held in the Westin's historic Grand Ballroom.  People joined us from all over Ohio to dance, laugh, and celebrate recovery.

We also presented awards to some very special people:  David Royer, the CEO of ADAMH Franklin County, received our inaugural PEERpower award; Priscilla Woodson was named VolunPEER of the Year; and Rick Cunningham won Peer of the Year.  Special thanks to the Westin, DJ Michael Porter, and all of our award winners. 

3. Columbus Dispatch Article

On Sunday, December 20, 2015, The PEER Center was featured in The Columbus Dispatch article, "No Judgement Zone."  Amidst all of the negative information about people living with mental illness, addictions, and/or trauma, we were gratified that The Dispatch chose us when they wanted to feature something positive.  A number of our associates were quoted and highlighted in the article. Check out the Dispatch's webpage to read the entire story and to see additional video featuring our ED, Juliet Dorris-Williams.

2. Peer Services Delivery Grant

In September, The PEER Center was notified by Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) that we had been awarded the Peer Services Delivery Grant.  This means that The PEER Center will now be involved in a partnership with OhioMHAS to enhance and improve peer services throughout Ohio.  We will track the certification of peer supporters, work with groups who offer (or want to start offering) peer services, and enhance the delivery of peer services throughout the state.

Everyone at The PEER Center is excited to take on this new challenge.

1. Record Number of Visits to Both Our Centers

In 2015, The PEER Center had over 55,000 visits across both of our locations. PEER East had over 31,000 visits and PEER West saw over 24,000 visits. As is our custom, every guest was welcome to a cup of coffee and all of our services (from the computer lab to over 50 different groups per week), free of charge.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to such a successful 2015.  Let's continue working together to make 2016 even better!

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Music, Art, and Healing at The P.E.E.R Center

Volunteer Spotlight: Singer Priscilla Woodson

headshot-priscillaThe P.E.E.R. Center is very fortunate to have an amazing community of people who support us. Whether by donating money, volunteering time, or providing needed supplies (like coffee), these kind, caring people support us on a daily basis. One of those people is Priscilla Woodson, a local recording artist, singer, songwriter, mentor, radio personality, and actress. She believes in the power of music, art, and healing.

Priscilla has been volunteering with us for years, lending us her beautiful voice at our Recovery Celebration as well as singing at our first annual fundraiser last year. Every Thursday, Priscilla comes to The P.E.E.R. Center and sings to our associates, staff, and anyone who happens to be there. She doesn’t stop there. People make requests, sing duets, and even perform solos, all with the guidance of a professional singer and performer.

When someone gives so much of themselves to other people, it is important to share their story. We sat down with her before one of her Thursday performances to learn more.

Music, Art, and Healing with Priscilla Woodson

Question: We know you are a talented singer, but we don’t know why you volunteer for The P.E.E.R. Center. Can you explain?

Answer: I have battled with depression but no longer suffer from it. Because I come from a pathology of mental illness and depression this disease is near and dear to my heart, so I understand the struggle many of your people are going through. That is my connection to The P.E.E.R. Center and I want to give back.

I also see many people in the artistic community suffer in silence. When they are performing, they feel alive and safe; but when they are alone, they succumb to the loneliness and they are broken. The stigma of mental illness and addiction prevents them from seeking help. Since no one can spend all their time performing, we lose amazing people, because they don’t know how to fight their demons.

Music, Art, and HealingWhile I do believe the best of artists are born through unhappiness, it doesn’t mean they want to suffer. I know what pain and suffering is and I know that music and art have a role in healing. Art allows people to connect to other people, and that has immense value in recovery.

Question: What advice do you have for people working to reach recovery?

Answer: I take a holistic approach to health and wellness. We have to be right in our mind, body, and soul. We have to fight against the odds and follow through with our convictions. We all must aspire to greatness!

Question: Now that we know a little more about what drives you to volunteer, tell us who or what inspires you to sing? Favorite artists, types of music, and favorite instrument?

Answer: I don’t know that I can name favorite performer; there are so many and such a range. I love Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald and I also love Adele and Whitney Houston. I have a genuine love for music and I can’t say I have a favorite, because all music moves me. Music is beautiful.

I don’t play any instruments, myself, but I love the acoustic guitar. It is the true essence of the music and it allows you to understand the full content. When a singer is paired with an acoustic guitar, I can listen for hours.

I am a gospel and jazz singer and I love that style of music a lot. Again, so difficult to pick a favorite. I can, and do, sing most styles.

Healing Never Sounded So Beautiful

In September of 2014, Priscilla left her corporate job after 20 years, a decision she says has made her happier than ever. Her contributions to the artistic community are massive, including releasing five albums with a sixth album and a book being released on January 31, 2015.

As the interview was wrapping up, I asked her if I could pick the first song she sang that day and, ever not the diva, she replied with an excited, “Of course!” I truly felt inspired that someone is out there spreading joy and inclusion and connecting with other people. It only seemed fitting that I choose, “At Last,” by Etta James.

She belted it out to a happy and energetic crowd and, as if to prove her point that music connects us to people, whenever I hear that song in the future, it will remind me of that moment – and all the people I shared it with.

Please visit Priscilla Woodson on the web at www.priscillawoodson.com

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Our Number One Recovery Accomplishment in 2014

Last week’s blog post was titled, “Top 10 Accomplishments 2014: Recovery Year in Review.” It covered nine of the top ten accomplishments of The P.E.E.R. Center for the year. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to do so. As promised in that article, here is the number one accomplishment for 2014.

Number One Recovery Accomplishment

1. Served More Than 75,000 Cups of Coffee

Our Number One Recovery Accomplishment in 2014Everyone is not only welcome at The P.E.E.R. Center, they are also welcome to a free cup of coffee. And a second, and a third, and so forth. During our business hours of operation, coffee is almost always brewing and available.

We consider this to be our number one accomplishment because it is an icebreaker, it is a gesture of good will, and a great way to greet people — especially new people who don’t know what to expect. It isn’t an easy thing to keep up with, but the benefits to the people we serve is unquestionable.

On average, we brew around 25 pots of coffee a day (across two centers, PEER East and PEER West), and that number can climb to well past 40 or 50 pots when the weather is very cold and during days when we have a lot of traffic. Each pot of coffee produces eight cups of joe, so on the average day, we hand out roughly 200 cups of coffee to anyone who asks. We include the coffee fixings, too, including cream, sugar, and low-calorie sweetener.

Does Coffee Help With Recovery?

You might be asking yourself why we choose to brew over 9,100 pots of coffee each year. The answer is pretty straightforward: People like coffee and we like people. And it isn't just coffee! While the numbers aren't as impressive, we also serve tea and hot chocolate.

We consider The P.E.E.R. Center and its visitors to be a community and we welcome everyone who enters our doors. Coffee is the universal “sit and stay for a while” beverage and that is exactly how we want everyone to feel. So the next time you are near one of our drop-in centers, stop in and say hello. We’ll put a pot on for you. Or two.


Does The P.E.E.R. Center Accept Coffee Donations?

We sure do! Feel free to drop off any unopened/sealed coffee to either one of our locations or contact us to make arrangements.

Not in Columbus, Ohio? No worries! Contact Gabe Howard at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to arrange a donation. We appreciate all that you do for us!


Our Number One Recovery Accomplishment in 2014
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Top 10 Accomplishments 2014: Recovery Year in Review

Another year has come and gone and we at The P.E.E.R. Center have had a fantastic 2014. We have continued to help people in our community reach recovery and, as always, welcome everyone who enters our doors.

Deciding the top 10 accomplishments wasn’t easy. There were amazing accomplishments that had to be left off the list. We had employees win prestigious awards, associates who celebrated recovery milestones, and we were able to support an astonishing number of people.

Stay with us in 2015 as The P.E.E.R. Center continues to help the people in our community reach their recovery goals. Without further ado . . .

Recovery Year in Review Top 10 List

10. Increased Social Media Presence and Digital Outreach

People increasingly get their information and news online and follow organizations they care about in the same way. For the first time in our history, our Facebook Page has over 500 likes and our e-mail list continues to grow. In 2015, we will be increasing our blog posts as well.

If you are not on our e-mail list, please sign up here!

To like us on Facebook please click here!

9. Started the PEERHugs Program

It is a simple premise, if you think about it. Take comfort and/or hygiene items and place them in a bag. Distribute the bags to people in need.

We had a lot of support from the employees of The P.E.E.R. Center and hope to grow the program by involving community groups, churches, etc. in the future. As of this writing, we handed out well over 3,000 items, including washcloths, bars of soap, toothbrushes, shampoo, and anti-bacterial hand wash.

8. First Full Year of Operations for PEER West

In December of 2013, we opened a location on West Broad Street in the Franklinton area. This location has quickly become a community staple, serving an average of 40 people per day. PEER West is open seven days a week from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. Stop by and see us!

7. Record Number of Outreach Activities

The P.E.E.R. Center was active in our community this year. In addition to hosting our first fundraiser and conference (See #2), we participated in police officer training through the Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program, have associates who serve on community boards, and attended numerous health fairs and other community events.

We were even featured in the news, bringing us to . . .

6. The P.E.E.R. Center Featured on WBNS Channel 10 News

Being mentioned on the local news is a powerful thing. Getting your name and message out to the community has immense value and there is the added bonus of having a professional video and/or news story to share with people unfamiliar with the organization.

This year, we were featured on the six o’clock news in a two-minutes, 30-second segment. Please watch the video by clicking here.

5. Celebration is Part of Recovery

Recovery Top TenThere is a lot of hard work when it comes to recovery. Doing the hard things is what leads to long-term success. But it is important that we take time to focus on other areas of people’s lives.

This year, The P.E.E.R. Center hosted 24 birthday celebrations, one for each center per month. We served cake, fruit, and drinks, and sang Happy Birthday to everyone who had a birthday that month.

(Honorable Mention: We also hosted a Thanksgiving meal, as well as a holiday meal on Christmas Day.)

4. Partnered with Outside Community Groups

The P.E.E.R. Center is proud to work with outside groups to offer resources such as wellness checks, job placement, flu shots, and the like. Partnering with other community groups allows us to serve our associates in a fiscally responsible fashion, without having to reinvent the wheel.

3. Impressive Number of People Served

The P.E.E.R. Center is a drop-in center and everyone is welcome. Everything we do for the community is free, and we take great pride in that. In 2014, we had over 14,000 support visits at PEER West, 28,000 support visits at PEER East, totaling over 42,000 support visits during the past year.

On average PEER West hosts 40 people per day, and PEER East hosts 75 people per day. Our doors are open seven days a week, 365 days a year, including all holidays.

2. EEOW! First Annual Fundraiser and Hosted First Recovery Conference

EEOW! is a funny word that stands for Exciting and Energizing October Weekend. The three events, held over two days, contained a free, one-day conference; an evening fundraiser; and our third annual recovery celebration.

The conference featured breakout sessions hosted by BlackMen Speak and Dr. E, as well as a panel discussion that included Dr. E, BlackMen Speak, Gabe Howard, and Liz Schindler – all moderated by our executive director, Juliet Dorris-Williams.

The Fundraiser featured the vocal stylings of Priscilla Woodson and a moving speech by Joe Anderson of BlackMen Speak.

The number 1 item on our "Top 10 Accomplishments 2014: Recovery Year in Review"

Tune in next week for an entire article based on our number one accomplishment. You’ll be impressed, we promise!
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