Jim has been in recovery for 24 years from a dual diagnosis in which he was hospitalized three times and has survived two suicide attempts. He believes recovery is not only possible, but it should be a part of the process when someone is given a diagnosis. “Without the message of hope or recovery we have nothing…and peer support should be part of that message.” Jim is the author of Into Recovery, his screen play Misunderstood has been performed live on stage and he wrote and directed the documentary Dandelion, chronicling early childhood trauma. Jim is also the founder and program coordinator for Peer Solutions Drop In Center in Livingston, Montana. Jim has worked as a peer supporter for 10 years sharing his recovery with others. He chaired the Montana Peer Support Task Force for 4 years and served 2 years as a Governor appointee to the Mental Disabilities Board of Visitors.
Andi brings several years of experience in non-profit work including Head Start and Early Head Start, employment and training programs, economic development programs, and mental health. She holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Montana State University-Bozeman and has extensive education and training in mental health, child development, and family systems. Andi has been in stable recovery from Bipolar Disorder for several years and has experienced one suicide attempt and a few hospitalizations.
Ashley joined MPN in May 2018. She has been in recovery since 5-14-2011. That is 8 wondrous years of rainbows and glitter unicorns. Yeah, right. It has been 8 years of continuous work on recovery. Ups and downs, periods of complacency and periods of growth. In her recovery from alcoholism she was diagnosed with bipolar depression and has been in recovery from that for 4 years. Ashley says “The way I recover from alcoholism and bipolar are quite similar in that I cannot do it alone and the terms do not define who I am. They are just things that I have learned to live with.” Ashley lives a healthy life with her beautiful family. And, most importantly, she gets to see people at their depths and extend her hand to show others a way. “And even if they don’t want it then I have planted a seed like someone did for me at the age of 17 when I was first introduced into recovery.”
Michael is a recovery coach at Montana’s Peer Network and a Peer Supporter for Instar Community Services. He has over 9 years in recovery. His passion for service is helping people who are coming from places where they are reentering communities and society. He uses his personal experience to help individuals with that process.
Katie Sorenson has been in recovery from co-occurring disorders for 6 years. Her recovery journey started in 2005 and has been peppered with adversity. Her greatest achievements have been on the other side of her most painful setbacks. She believes her greatest strength in recovery is her ability to see the value in her struggles. She feels the most important thing she can give to another person is hope that if you can just hold on, for one more day, one more hour, one more minute, you can recover. Katie believes recovery is about gaining access to opportunities and her passion to help others do so is fueled by her own struggle. Katie obtained her Bachelor’s of Social Work degree from the University of Montana, Missoula, where she resides. Her experience in a chemical dependency treatment program and work at the homeless shelter reinforced her conviction in her purpose at Montana’s Peer Network. She is grateful to be a part of the team.
Melinda has been in recovery since 1990 after a lifetime of addiction and mental illness. She has been a caregiver for terminally ill patients and greatly enjoyed that work. She is a survivor of childhood traumas, alcohol and drug addiction, and sexual abuse. She wants to reach out to others and share her lived experiences and bring a message of hope and recovery. She is proud to be a part of the MPN team.