In 2023, we issued a call for nominations for three recovery award categories:
Recovery Advocate: An individual who has worked to change policy or public opinion about addiction and recovery
Recovery Caregiver: An individual who provides outstanding direct care to people with addiction/people seeking recovery (e.g., recovery supports, counselors, case managers, medical professionals, first responders, and more)
Recovery Pathway Supporter: An individual who has worked to broaden the range of recovery pathways available in the greater Pittsburgh area (e.g., someone who has worked to promote MAT, harm reduction, alternative peer support groups, etc.)
Here are the 2023 winners.
RECOVERY ADVOCATE: DENNIS HAYNES
Dennis Haynes brings his personal recovery experience to work every day as a Senior Peer Navigator at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital’s Center for Psychiatric and Chemical Dependency Services.
His job has wide-ranging responsibilities: providing support to individuals in all stages of recovery, facilitating warm handoffs from area hospitals, coordinating with members of an interdisciplinary team, completing clinical documentation, and serving as a representative of the recovery community, just to name a few.
During the most isolated days of the pandemic, with potential clients facing long waitlists, he created a peer-run support group to connect people while they were waiting for services. He is loved and admired by clients, peers, and colleagues.
Dennis’s nomination said, “Not only is he hard working and passionate about his work, he’s also one of the kindest, warmest, happiest people you’ll ever meet. It is unusual to see Dennis without a smile on his face; his positivity is infectious.”
RECOVERY CAREGIVER: ALYSSA MAINHART
Alyssa Mainhart began her recovery journey in July 2012. She has truly undergone a profound transformation in this process. From a starting point of incarceration and homelessness, in recovery, she earned a degree in social work, winning numerous scholarships and honors in the process. She is a Substance Use Counselor for Foundations Medical Services. Foundations provides methadone treatment for people diagnosed with Opioid Use Disorder. This is particularly impactful because Alyssa herself was a client of the very same methadone clinic for two years at the beginning of her recovery journey.
She’s known for going above and beyond for her clients, doing whatever it takes to remove barriers to people getting the help that they need. Whether it’s financial barriers, communication barriers, public assistance barriers, she fights alongside her clients to overcome them.
Alyssa’s nomination for this award said “She has a presence that people are attracted to, and they listen. When Alyssa tells her story and talks to others, she does not hold back from speaking about uncomfortable topics such as stigma, harm reduction, medications, and her own journey.”
RECOVERY PATHWAY SUPPORTER: KENNETH CLOWES
Ken Clowes is a person in long-term recovery. He is the Community Leadership Initiatives Center Assistant at Butler County Community College where he helps assist the college in its plan to help improve the lives of those living in the community. He also works with the college to promote the “Hope is Dope” program, educating the community about the brain science of addiction and recovery in order to reduce stigma while increasing community support.
Ken regularly speaks at local inpatient and outpatient groups about his own experiences overcoming substance use disorders and also speaks to students taking social work classes. He serves on the Butler County Opioid Overdose Coalition, the Robin’s Home Board of Directors, and the Butler Collaborative for Families. He is also a Personal Empowerment Facilitator.
His nomination for this award said, “[Ken] has long been an advocate of the proper use of harm-reduction techniques and alternative pathways to recovery in a time when people trying to improve their lives are stigmatized by their own community.”