In March of 2022, the Wyoming Independent Living, Independent Living Specialists attended “Group Facilitation: A Peer-Based Approach” as a team-building activity and to gather tools and best practices for facilitated group activities our specialists facilitate for people with disabilities throughout Eastern Wyoming. Not only did the team get an array of best practices and tools to be great facilitators, but we also received so much more. Christina and Maisha took the time to learn who we were as an entity and a team and presented the material in a way that related directly to the work we do with people with disabilities. They gave us a safe space so each one of us was able to talk and add to the conversation. The team not only learned best practices and the tools we need to facilitate; we also were made aware of the importance of setting values of what we want to accomplish as a team. So much was learned about facilitating by the content and examples presented, but also by listening and watching these best practices be used by our facilitators. Not only were our expectations met by this training, but they were exceeded.

Wyoming Independent Living Group

It’s been a blessing meeting these wonderful people and sharing in a history-making field.

Ginger Hollis, RPS participant

[RPS] was so on point that we watched the layers of the onion peel one after another as all class attendees showed up authentically. Professionally, the class allowed me to look at trauma from a new set of lenses and personally, it allowed me to look at myself as not a human doing but as a human being that has pulled the wagon in the opposite direction from time to time. It was an unmasking in a safe space that allowed individuals to be who they are without judgment, stigma, or shame.

Meredith Stacy Jones, RPS participant

Via Hope’s Reentry Peer Specialist [RPS] training was sufficient, credible, and effective. Every day, our cohort aligned together to unpack our experiences, listen to understand each other and share ideas of how we can help those just like us. We grew as a team of individuals into a family of advocates and activists, ready to pay it forward by applying standards and agreements that will uplift and encourage others.

Chivas Watson, Founder, WorkingGroup512

Via Hope provided such an integral and comprehensive training that allows individuals with lived experiences to maximize their skill set to provide support and more importantly HOPE to individuals experiencing similar situations. I am a true believer that with the scope of this training and implementation in spaces that serve vulnerable populations we are truly beginning intergenerational healing.

Cynthia Simons, Women’s Fellow for the Texas Center for Justice and Equity

Thanks to Via Hope’s training, I am now living my dream of paying it forward. The Reentry Peer Specialist training offered by Via Hope is an amazing, practical application of lived experiences and is only one of the many objectives that are facilitated. The RPS training set me up for success when it was time for me to take the MHPS training. Thank you Via Hope!

Rutanya Pearson-Mitchner, RPS Participant

The Via Hope [RPS training] was totally awesome. I have learned so much about peer support with substance abuse as well as mental health issues.

Daryl Rembert, RPS Participant

I was fortunate enough to be selected as a participant in Via Hope’s Reentry Peer Specialist (RPS) six-day training. I was so impressed by the level of organization, thought, and activities that went into this training. My experience with (RPS) training provided an opportunity to verbalize shared experiences and promote messages of healing and hope. Dr. Smith, Maisha, and Red were fantastic trainers. I would recommend this training to anyone that wishes to become more knowledgeable about themselves and help those that have been justice-involved.

Sonya Gentry, MSW, BS, LCDC, PSS, Manager of Peer Services for Criminal Justice, Houston Recovery Center

I am working as a reentry peer specialist now, and the training through Via Hope has helped me to acquire the skills needed to be the best I can be.  I plan to utilize these skills in the most positive way in my work, to help, and motivate as many people as I can by providing tools and resources so that my peers can make GREAT choices. Thanks, Via Hope! 

Kristin Anthony, RPS Participant

I am grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to be a part of Via Hope’s Reentry Peer Support Specialist training program. This training and our Cohorts helped me to open up and process things that were still heart/head issues. Hearing about other people’s journeys and how they’ve overcome certain situations and obstacles was fuel for me.

Though everyone’s journey is different, we all have a commonality: wanting to overcome past hurts and disappointments, and become the best possible version of ourselves after the rain. In this training, EVERYONE was able to be transparent WITHOUT judgment! Oh, what a breath of fresh air. 

There should be a thesaurus designed specifically for Via Hope! Lived experience, shared commonality. We became a community, a family. Healing hearts, wanting to lift up and encourage others along their journey. 

Lastly, the facilitators are passionately committed to this program and its cause. This is their calling. Dr. Smith and Christina Carney were PRESENT to address any questions or issues I had. They’ve effortlessly navigated us through this process, offering us additional assistance without hesitation. ALWAYS being available, within reach.

Partina Clemons, RPS Participant
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