Hutchinson County United Way has been bringing people, organizations and resources together to improve community well-being since 1958. As of December 2022, we are actively working to bring peer support services to the community to enhance available services and achieve our vision of every community member enjoying their highest possible quality of life. This has been and continues to be a collaborative effort driven by the Mental Health Task Force, created in January 2020.
What is Peer Support?
Peer specialists are people who have personal experience navigating mental health or substance use challenges and supporting their own wellness. They are trained to bring this “lived experience” to support others and share their own stories, offer resources and tools, assist people as they adopt new self care and management approaches, and more. Peer specialists work in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics and hospitals, primary care settings, community-based organizations, and specialty courts. They can operate in a wide range of roles, but typically meet with people individually or in groups related to goal-setting, navigation of services, advocacy, and education. In any role, a peer specialist’s way of working is distinct from that of a clinician or other professional service provider in that they share their own story and personal experience to benefit the wellness of others, focus on the strengths and self-determination of the people they work with, and avoid providing advice or expert-driven guidance. Importantly, the role of a peer specialist complements, but does not duplicate or replace, the roles of other supporters a person may have in their life, such as a clinical therapist or counselor, psychiatrist, social worker, pastor, or loved ones and friends. For more information and resources on peer support, visit the National Association of Peer Supporters website.
The core values of peer support are closely aligned with the values that drive the work of United Way in this community. We believe that by investing in local people with lived experience who are ready to give back, we can achieve a thriving and healthy community that supports all residents as they discover what wellness looks like for them and how to get there.
Recovery & Peer Support Values
HC United Way Values
Employment & Training Opportunities
We have hired a full-time, experienced and certified peer specialist, who will begin working with our community in January 2023. We are still searching for at least two more local community members with lived experience to serve in part-time positions as peer support specialists. These individuals will be selected by the end of December 2022, receive training for the job early in 2023, and begin directly supporting others immediately after. We are working closely with Via Hope’s Recovery Institute to implement this program, as well as access federal funding to get people trained, certified, and supported in the early stages of this program through Via Hope’s HRSA Training Program.
Part-Time Peer Specialist Positions
- Pays $15.00 per hour
- $5,000 in stipends over initial 9 months
- Works 15-20 hours per week throughout Hutchinson County, providing groups and individual sessions with people seeking support
- Attends virtual certification training in early 2023, according to specialization chosen (mental health, substance use recovery, wellness after incarceration)
- Develops skills in peer-based support services that are applicable to many jobs/roles
- Acquires peer specialist certification in early 2023 through Texas Certification Board
- Collaborates closely with on-site supervisor, peer specialist team members, mentor, “direct practice” supervisor (weekly sessions), and other community providers/leaders
- Receives additional “continuing education” alongside other peer specialists throughout Texas (see Via Hope’s virtual trainings here)
- Opportunity to move into full-time position in the future
Next Steps for Those Interested
- Submit your application using this link by December 21, 2022
- For additional information, contact Julie Winters, Hutchinson County United Way Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hutchinson County United Way, in partnership with the Panhandle Behavioral Health Alliance, spearheaded a Mental Health Task Force in response to a series of suicide attempts and completions, as well as a variety of unmet needs for health and wellness throughout the area. The creation of the Peer Recovery Services program is part of a wider effort to bring more services and programs to the area and increase collaboration and support for existing programs. The Mental Health Task Force serves as oversight and support by a variety of community leaders and agencies, including the following:
- Borger Independent School District
- Sanford-Fritch Independent School District
- Plemons-Stinnett-Phillips Consolidated Independent School District
- Frank Phillips College
- Alex Gowdy, LMFT, Twelve Roots Therapy
- High Plains Helping Hand
- Hutchinson County Drug Court – Probation
- Texas Panhandle Centers
- Living Water Ministries
- Dr. Dustin Hawley, Northwest Physicians Group
- Golden Plains Community Hospital
- Hutchinson County Commissioners Court
- CareNet Pregnancy Center
- Community members at large