Five years ago, Jessica Winchester was homeless and on a continued path of addiction.
Today, she is married, has her kids back, owns a house and is a peer support specialist at Mercy Health – Marcum and Wallace Hospital.
Jessica’s sobriety began when she was arrested. In fact, it was the arrest that gave her a chance to see what sober life could be like. She went to support groups and did the work. After starting her job at Marcum and Wallace Hospital, Jessica mentioned to a coworker how the county needed a Celebrate Recovery support group and set out to start one.
“This program is a faith-based program,” Jessica explains. “Participants are not only getting recovery but also a belief system.”
Driving Jessica is a desire to see others succeed in sobriety.
“I love helping others and I want everyone to experience the sober life in recovery world instead of life in addiction,” she says.
Jessica adds that she relishes the experience of “seeing the change in a person as they find their self-confidence and self-worth as well as seeing people find their breakthrough. It is eye-opening and makes you want to see more of it.”
She explains that finding your breakthrough looks different for everyone. According to Jessica, when you find your breakthrough, you realize that you can make it through by pushing out of your comfort zone, even if that comfort zone wasn’t really such a comfortable place to begin with.
“I have my life and my kids back, but I had to do this for myself before I could do it for anyone else,” she explains.
“I had to hit my rock bottom to make the change. Everyone’s rock bottom will look different, and I just had to hit mine. I really hope people can see the difference and see the light I see in myself. I hope they see and think, ‘Wow, I want to have this light.’ We live in a small town, so everyone knows what I was like before.”
Today Jessica is studying to earn her master’s in social work with the goal of becoming a licensed clinical social worker and opening her own practice. Eventually, she’d like to earn a doctorate to officially complete her journey from being homeless to being a doctor.
“I have an amazing support system and prayer warriors who can help,” Jessica shares. “There have been plenty of times, and I’m sure there will be more times where I think I can’t achieve my goal and I will, with God’s glory, achieve my goal.”
Learn about the behavioral and mental health services we offer at Mercy Health.