The staff at J’s Place Recovery Center in Gainesville understand that more often than not, those struggling with addiction feel like they have no options and nowhere to turn.
But J’s Place offers a variety of programs and support groups to meet each individual’s needs- whether it’s recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues or even grief support.
“What we try to do is say, ‘What’s going to work for you, what has worked for you in the past, where do you find your pathway?’” said Jordan Hussey, executive director of J’s Place. “We don’t try to tell them what it’s supposed to look like, we just tell them that they don’t have to do it alone.”
Hussey and her co-workers can personally relate to every person that they help, because each of them are also in long-term recovery.
Will Allison, who works as a Peer Recovery Coach at J’s Place and is a native of Hall County, said that he uses his own experience to relate to those he helps.
“It helps people to feel more comfortable that I might know where they’re from and what kind of surroundings they might be around,” said Allison. “I see a lot of people that are either they’ve gotten in trouble with the authorities, the judge has sent them here or they might just be coming in off the streets so I just have to meet them exactly where they’re at.”
Allison said that he and his co-workers are not afraid to share their stories because of the impact they can have on people looking for a way out.
“If people coming here get that vibe, and they’re like, ‘I’m a person in long-term recovery too.’ that is like a ripple effect and it goes throughout the community and people see that,” said Allison.
In addition to support groups, J’s Place offers help with job readiness, resume writing and interview prep. The center’s building on Juanita Avenue houses a computer room, several meeting rooms, a fitness room and even a kitchen with free snacks for those who are ready to take that first step toward recovery.
Many of the support groups and programs at J’s Place are also focused on helping veterans struggling with substance abuse or even homelessness. Greg O’Hara, who is another Peer Recovery Coach and a veteran himself, said that these programs also meet veterans where they are at in their recovery.
“The thing that I like about being here at J’s Place is that we’re able to really help with any barrier that they’re facing- whether it be from a mental health perspective or a substance abuse perspective, we try to get them referred to the proper treatment that they may need,” said O’Hara.
The center is named in memory of Jeffrey Dallas Gay, Jr., a local man who died from an opioid overdose. In the years following his death, his family has been a huge source of support and help for the growth of the center.
Undoubtedly, there have been times where the staff at J’s Place have felt like they were fighting an uphill battle against stigmas surrounding those in recovery. Hussey explained that often those who are struggling with addiction are just misunderstood.
“There is no shortage of shame for a person who is struggling,” said Hussey. “I understand that it’s stigmatizing even for the people who suffer, they don’t want to suffer, they just don’t know how to do anything better.”
Allison added that having J’s Place in the community has provided opportunities to break those stigmas.
“Before this organization was started, there were scattered places for people in recovery to go, but the stigma was still strong,” he said. “I think we’ve come a long ways since this place was started to get to a point where [people say], ‘Wow these people are doing really good things and they’re supposedly in recovery themselves so obviously people in recovery are good people and people who are in addiction can get to this point.’”
It’s obvious now that J’s Place is making strides in the community. In August 2020, the center hosted a vigil to honor those from the area that had lost their lives to substance abuse and mental health issues. More than 200 candles were lit by community members in memory of loved ones.
In addition, just this month, J’s Place was recognized with a Healthy Hall award for Outstanding Achievement in Behavioral Health.
Hussey encouraged anyone who is struggling with addiction or related issues to call the center at 678-316-0403. Walk-ins are also welcome; the center is located at 1362 Juanita Avenue in Gainesville. More information is on the center’s website.
“Don’t give up, you’re not alone, you don’t have to be alone,” said Hussey. “If someone walks in the door, we’re happy to drop what we’re doing and meet with them, because we know what it’s like.”
For Goodness Sake is a monthly series highlighting non-profits in the North Georgia area. Have a non-profit that you would like to see featured? Email the author at [email protected]!