A journey and a destination. Recovery happens here!

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Model the way of Recovery

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How does one model the way of recovery? This differs from person to person. Often, the term is used to describe individuals who set standards, apply skillsets in diverse environments to make the most out of life on their recovery journey, while holding themselves accountable for their actions.

This is accomplished and demonstrated by making and keeping appointments for self-care, setting and achieving goals, keeping up with hygiene, advocating for better quality of personal care, understanding our symptoms, medication side effects and triggers, educating ourselves about ourselves, making healthy choices both physically and mentally, setting boundaries, and asking questions to develop strategies to overcome obstacles.

Setting boundaries between professional and personal life can be challenging. A short-term sacrifice can turn into a long-term problem. Being open and honest with yourself and others allows for discovery and knowing limitations.  Reaching out for assistance shows how much you care to overcome the issue at hand. We are under a microscope.

What you post, comment, or share on social media is in public view, which can affect those we serve, who we work for, and/or ourselves in positive and/or negative ways. 

A good resource to use as a guide is the Eight Dimensions of Wellness from SAMHSA (https://www.samhsa.gov) which provides an image of what holistic wellness looks like. Like human beings are mental, physical and spiritual beings.

The above aspects can be further expanded as the following: Emotional, Environmental, Financial, Intellectual, Occupational, Physical, Social, and Spiritual. By keeping all dimensions in balance, we model the way of recovery.  

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Why Celebrating Recovery Publicly Matters

Top SecretI used to think I was alone, that no one cared. This was supported by when I screwed up, everyone pointed it out. When I excelled well beyond their expectations, I got silence! In fact, it was as if nobody cared by the amount of success I’d worked so hard to achieve. Suddenly, my SUCCESS was TOP SECRET! So I could distance myself from the rest of the world and the very things I wanted badly (belonging and understanding), or change my view and tactics and advocate to the people who mattered. Little did I realize how much of an impact talking about success to others would matter. My problem was I shadowed my successes to the highlighted negative.

The same choice applies to celebrating our victories. Do we choose to not celebrate (TOP SECRET), celebrate with our recovery family (INNER CIRCLE), or do we celebrate openly and publicly? Typically, the public only sees the negative. The media is quick to point out when someone overdoses – “It’s an epidemic!” Or, that this person committed this violent crime – “Mental health disorder!” They don’t show people in recovery and how far they’ve come. In fact, we’re told we should’ve been doing this all along and don’t need a pat on the back for it! We are a living billboard and a direct reflection of what the public sees. Like it or hate it, it doesn’t change the fact. If one person carries this much persuasive power, celebrating our recovery openly and publicly gives us a chance to change the public perception.

How many people support local recovery centers or can name just one center in their community? The community would care if they were made aware of it. The public outside the addiction/mental health circles hasn’t a clue what’s going on. In a way, our stories are like infomercials. The key points are to show the before (problem) and after result, with the success we’ve achieved. It does us little to no good sharing only the problems, while our successes remain shadowed. We would get silence from the community while strengthening the preconceived stereotypes. Thus, what I had experienced for so long. To quote a dear colleague of mine, “Sad stories don’t pay bills.”  We need to share our success to anyone who will listen, the public included.   

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What is The P.E.E.R. Center and PEERdance?

Simply put, The PEER Center is a consumer operated drop-in center for people living with mental illness, addiction, and/or trauma. We operate two centers in Columbus, Ohio, and are open 365 days a year. All of our services are free.

The "PEER" in PEER Center is an acronym for Peers Enriching Each others' Recovery. We provide a safe place where individuals receive respect, encouragement, and hope that supports and strengthens their recovery in mental health, addictions, and trauma.

Their purpose is to provide immediate support to people in need. Because we are a drop-in center, all someone has to do is show up and follow the code of conduct, which keeps everyone safe. No referrals are needed and everyone 18 and over is welcome.

Every member of our staff - from front line peer supporters to management - lives with mental illness, addiction, and/or trauma. The people who work here don't just talk about how to be well; we live in recovery. Peer support is a vital tool to have in a person's wellness toolbox and we excel at walking the walk and talking the talk. We know what to do because we've done it.

"The best part about The PEER Center is that everyone is welcome and it's a place to feel supported and safe," says an associate (what we call the folks who use our services) who asked to remain anonymous. 

The PEER Center Needs Your Help!


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And we want you to get involved!

We are currently looking for Dance Captains and corporate sponsors for PEERdance on the morning of September 24th, 2016. (Yes, that is a bye week for you Buckeye fans out there!). PEERdance is our signature community event and fundraiser designed to showcase that recovery happens every day. While society is quick to focus on negative outcomes of mental illness, addiction, and trauma we want to highlight that recovery is possible.

Our Dance Captains are the key to the success of our event. By creating and leading a dance team you will ensure that our services continue to remain available and free for our community. Don't worry, it's easy and while dancing is encouraged - it isn't necessary.

And we are here to help you every step of the way.

Mark your calednars to come on down and listen to music, enter the T-Shirt contest, show your support, and celebrate recovery with us.

To sponsor, sign up, or for more information please contact Gabe Howard at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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The PEER Center’s 2015 Top 10 List

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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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We Are Too Different to Learn From Each Other

It’s not uncommon to be intimidated or even frightened at the thought of attending a support group. Opening up in a room full of strangers takes courage. The value of connecting with other people cannot be understated, and you might be surprised who you can learn from along the way. Sharing experiences and being a member of a community is a valuable recovery tool.


Trying to find reasons to avoid listening to people should be an Olympic sport at The PEER Center. We hear all the time from our associates that they are misunderstood, no one can relate to them, and there is no reason to attend “that support group” because they have “nothing in common” with the other participants.

Gabe and Juliet Are Very Different

My name is Gabe Howard and I am the Director of Development and Marketing at The PEER Center. I work for Juliet Dorris-Williams, the Executive Director. If you take a look at the picture accompanying this article, you’ll see that it doesn’t take much to come to the conclusion that we are very different.

We Are Too Different to Learn From Each OtherStarting with the obvious, we are different races and genders. I am a tall, redheaded, white man and Juliet is a short, African-American woman. I am younger than Juliet, as well. Even upon visual inspection we are incredibly different.

Frankly, those are the least of our differences. Juliet is very educated, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I tried to drop out of high school until my granny stepped in to stop me. Juliet is a parent; I am not. I am not at all religious and she is very spiritual – so much so that she attended seminary and is an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church. While Juliet is very quiet and introverted, I am boisterous and very extroverted.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Juliet is not a fan of 90s alternative rock and I have never heard of many of the gospel singers on her playlist. So, what does a quiet, well-educated, spiritual, African-American woman have in common with a loud, informally educated, not-at-all spiritual, white man?


Juliet and Gabe Are Not so Different

Turns out, Juliet and Gabe are not so different. We are both realists. We both care very much about the people we serve. And, while I certainly overthink things more than she does, she hasn’t escaped the middle-of-the–night, grandiose, racing thoughts.

We don’t back down and we both fight our own inner turmoil. We both have had traumatic incidents in our pasts and both can be filled with self-doubt. We both strive to be moderate in a world filled with extremes.

Her life experience has given me a different perspective on my own, and that has been incredibly helpful in my own recovery. Had I decided I had nothing to learn from her, I would have missed out on a great many positive things. What we have in common is considerably more valuable than our differences.

Being “so different” gives us the opportunity to learn from one another. In our work life, I do the talking, she keeps me focused and accountable, and we both work toward the same goals in our own ways. Our differences didn’t prevent us from learning from and supporting one another. Indeed, they are what allow us to do so.


Visit our webpage at www.ThePEERCenter.org to see a list of our support and educational groups.
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