Hi there! My name is Delanie, and I grew up in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. I spent my early twenties in Blacksburg, where I graduated from Virginia Tech in 2018. After a short time in Seattle, I moved back home to take care of myself and seek help for a traumatic event I was having trouble coming to terms with. Due to a long history of personal experience with mental health challenges, I've been interested in mental health work since my late teens. After seeking clinical treatment for PTSD and MDD for many years, I felt lost as to which direction I wanted to go in life. The only thing that made me feel passionate and connected to the world around me was sharing my story and listening to the stories people were willing to share with me. A few years ago, a psychiatrist recommended I look into Peer Recovery services. I didn't actually look into this work at that time, but I came back to the idea in early 2023. I completed my 72-hour Peer Recovery Specialist training in June of 2023, and I am super excited to be joining Robin's Hope and to engage in trauma-informed care! In August, I relocated to the Richmond area with my partner and dog (who I will eagerly share pictures of and talk about whenever prompted). Some things I do for self-care and enjoyment include writing poetry, hiking, and making playlists of new music I've found. The work this organization does truly inspires me, and I look forward to engaging with everyone in such a genuine space.
Carissa, a mother of three, is an inspiring individual who has overcome numerous challenges in her life. She is a survivor of childhood trauma, domestic violence, sexual assault, cyberbullying, cyberstalking, human trafficking, and other forms of abuse. Carissa’s experiences have shaped her into a strong and resilient person. Carissa’s children are her greatest source of inspiration. She believes that everyone has a purpose in life, and if we allow God to guide us, He can transform our pain into a meaningful purpose. Having endured enough darkness in her own life, Carissa feels honored to be a beacon of light for others. She is grateful to be part of Robin’s Hope, an organization dedicated to empowering survivors and providing them with the resources they need to make positive changes in their lives. In her role as a facilitator for the Intimate Partner Violence group and Breaking the Cycle of Abuse group, Carissa helps individuals who have experienced similar challenges find healing and support. Carissa’s story is a testament to the power of resilience and the ability to find hope in even the darkest of times. Her journey serves as an inspiration to others who may be facing their own struggles.
Julie, PRS, IFPRS, Birth and Bereavement Doula
My name is Julie Peck, I’m from a very small rural area of Southwestern Virginia. I was raised in a religious upbring. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to be enough to fight the opioid epidemic, and so at very young age I was exposed to a lot of drug use, SA, and DV. A battle that I fought alone for many years until I got with my husband now. Which is legally my 2nd husband, my 1st marriage was at the age of 15 and I was divorced by the age of 18. Thankfully my Husband now of 17 years helped save my life. He helped to get me into treatment and happily took on my 2 children as his own. We later had 3 more children of our own, sadly one of them passed away at the age of 3 months in 2011, his name is Josiah Julian. It was one of the hardest times of our lives. To be honest at certain points I didn’t know if we would make it through. But we did, and it has not only made me stronger, but has made our marriage and family stronger. I fought a lot of hurt and depression, C-PTSD, & anxiety along with multiple auto immune disorders. I joined the pregnancy and infant loss community and found so many amazing individuals that were going through loss and hurting just like I was and through those unfortunate losses we have built some lifelong bonds. I was later thrown into caring for my sick and dying mother and in 2019 she passed just days before my birthday. One week later I lost my best friend adding another major loss to those we had lost. I honestly can’t begin to tell you everything about all of the traumas I have been through, or it would be pages long. But that isn’t the propose of this, I am here today, and I made it through all of that and that is the important part! A year or so later I decide that I wasn’t going to sit here anymore, my husband’s health had started to decline, and I was going to start making a real difference. And that’s just what I started doing, and I continue. I started working as a PRS volunteer with Robin’s Hope in January in 2023. I also work as a volunteer with postpartum VA and worked at a local Recovery House in my area, as well as a local women’s shelter. I work full time with VA Tech on a Study called HBCD which stands for Healthy Brain Child Development. We are working with pregnant women and their babies after birth, some with SUD. I love my life, family, and my work. I am very Blessed to still be here today and to have the ability to share my story and hope it can help make a difference, even it's just with 1 person. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me a little.
Hello! My name is Julie, “Jules,” Clarke, and I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of The Robin’s Hope Internship Team. Like many who have mental illness, a trauma history, and a substance use disorder, I come from a family where alcoholism and toxic dysfunction were a way of life. I survived multiple forms of abuse and neglect throughout my youth. I was bullied at school as well as in my home by my stepfather who was an alcoholic. I lived in a fantasy world as a child and developed survival skills to cope. I followed in the footsteps of my family and started drinking alcohol by the age of 11. When I moved from my hometown in Pennsylvania after high school, to Richmond, Virginia where my father lived, I was in active addiction. It is common for those who’ve been raised in an environment like mine to work in caretaking professions, and I am no exception. While in nursing school, I volunteered as a paramedic for a local rescue squad. After graduating I worked in the emergency department and the intensive care units. I saw people at their worst, and at times, the worst of humanity. I thrived in chaos, and I was addicted to the adrenaline rush of not knowing what was going to happen from one minute to the next. My substance abuse escalated, as I was not dealing with the additional trauma my profession was having on my mental and emotional health. I sought out individual therapy, as well as inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment over the course of a decade. After several years of clean time, I ultimately relapsed because I was not addressing deep seeded trauma. My addiction took me to dark places, including homelessness. It wasn’t until I went to Louisville, Kentucky in 2015, and admitted myself to a homeless shelter/halfway house, did I take responsibility for my own mental and emotional health. I realized no one was going to save me, and I had to empower myself and honor my life experience. I realized I had survived the depths of addiction and mental illness, to be an inspiration for others. To never give up. I returned to Richmond, Virginia in 2021. I now work a strong substance abuse recovery program, and I am actively treating past trauma and mental illness. I strive to have a peaceful and contented life. I’m becoming comfortable in my own skin for the first time, and I know who I am for the first time in my life. I was first exposed to Robin’s Hope when I was 6 months clean and sober and had to address being triggered by a past trauma. I participated in virtual groups and worked one-on-one with a PRS Intern. After a year of substance abuse recovery, I decided to take the Peer Recovery Specialist Training and graduated in May of 2023. I started my internship with Robin’s Hope in August and participate and lead both in person and virtual groups. My goal is to become certified as a Peer Recovery Specialist and work with healthcare professionals and first responders.
Victoria (Tori) Walk, PRS I was born in raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia during the cold war. I am the youngest of 3 children, a baby born later in life as my siblings are 7 and 10 years older than myself. Growing up I experienced many early childhood traumas that would have a negative effect on me all my life and impact my mental health. In 1996 my son and I moved to Virginia where I married my husband of 25 years. We had a daughter together and with his children and mine we had a total of 5 kids. I was a public-school bus driver and bus driver trainer from 1999- 2005, this allowed me a schedule to be home with the children. After that I became an EMT Enhanced with the plan to go on to be a paramedic. Fate stepped in and in July of 2015 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a double mastectomy for the cancer that thankfully so far has not recurred. The chemo and radiation treatments did however leave me with side effects, especially in my spine and I have so far had 3 surgeries to stabilize the degeneration caused by the treatments. I was placed out on disability by the state, and this ended my career as an EMT. Needing to do something to give back I started volunteering with a hospice organization in a program called peaceful passing. This program addressed comfort and compassion for those who are imminent in facing death. I assisted the family but most importantly the people themselves. I have a firm belief that no one should die alone – conscious or not. This work to me was as fulling as the EMS work. Fate and Covid came and simultaneously my husband began to decline in his health. After 2 years of suffering poor health my husband passed away in December of 2021. It was then that my world fell apart. My children had moved out on their own and I found myself financially devastated. It was then that my past started to catch up to me. After 2 back-to-back hospitalizations I was diagnosed with severe chronic reoccurring depression. I was told after the second to find a trauma support group. It was then I found Robin’s Hope. This is where I mark the beginning of my journey on the path of recovery. I started as a participant in July of 2022. I was amazed (and still am) at what I learned there. There were words about what I was going through and what had happened to me. That I could freely express my sexuality without judgement. That there are skills to use to cope with what life throws at you. Most importantly I found a community that is so accepting and supporting. My gratitude to Robin’s Hope is beyond compare and I set out to become one of the biggest cheerleaders for mental health recovery because of Robin’s Hope. In September 0f 2023 I completed PRS training and now am proud to be an PRS intern with Robin’s Hope. I feel this will be my most important contribution in my life.
Rye Curtis, PRS
Rye Curtis, PRS I was born in Warren County, with a mild form of Spina Bifida, and was the eldest of 2 siblings. My family moved to Richmond in 1973 when I was 5 years old. Soon after moving, I contracted spinal meningitis, succumbed to a coma, & suffered a stroke. The stroke left me with semi-hemi paralysis of my right side. My parents were told I would never walk again,. After several months in the hospital & while receiving intense physical therapy, when I was discharged in May I had started to walk again & by September I was fully walking. However, I was left with lifelong epilepsy as a result of the stroke. At 12 I had started smoking marijuana & by 15 my addiction had escalated to hard drugs. At 16 I quit school, left home, took a job cutting grass at a tattoo shop, & witnessed a friend accidently shoot himself resulting in his death. The crowd that frequented the tattoo shop was a rough crowd, I started hanging out with them & was given the nickname Rye. They said I was like a good whiskey (Rye) but just had not aged long enough. At 18 I was at a party & was pressured into playing Russian Rolette. I was the last to go & was sure I was going to die as the gun had never fired, only to fin out the gun had no bullets. This event had a lasting impact on my life. Once I was a little older I began following bands, after some time, band members began to recognize me & I was asked to be a roadie. I worked my way up to writing songs with different bands & started forming my own bands, sometimes I was even the lead singer. I was still using but it was not yet out of control. I knew my childhood medical conditions would not allow me to continue doing hard physical labor so when I was presented with an opportunity to attend Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation center, I took it. I attended one year taking a course in mechanical drafting. During this time, I met two very important people in my life, first is Bob, a lifelong best friend & second I fell in love with a young lady who I became engaged to. We were together for a year when she became very ill & passed away after 4 months. This loss triggered & skyrocketed my substance abuse disorder & I was losing any control. Around the same time, I was given the opportunity to host my own tv show “Koncrete Alley” showcasing Heavy Metal/Hard rock bands while also managing several other bands. I ran full steam for 6 while using various drugs daily, ultimately leading me to using heroin every day. My recovery began when a guy I was partying with called me me a junkie one day, a huge fight erupted, and I threw him out. I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and realized that the person looking at me was a junkie. In 2000 I met the woman who would become my wife. I had already been clean for a good while, but I credit this wonderful woman by helping keep me clean. In 2011, after attending Friend's 4 Recovery and finding myself drawn to helping others in their journey, I started the Peer Movement. While training to be a facilitator for WRAP I met Mr. Powell. Mr. Powell arranged a scholarship for me to become a Peer Support Specialist (PRS) & started my journey to becoming a PRS. By 2016 I had worked my way up to becoming the Executive Director at Friends 4 Recovery. One night when I came home from work, 10/31/2016, Halloween night, I found my wife passed away. I was in shock, but due to certain events I no longer felt supported and by the end of January 2017 I left Friends. After a year in a very dark place I found myself in a manic phase of my Bipolar disorder waking up in New York very unhappy & realizing I had made a mistake. September 2020 I made my way back to Richmond. The first year I spent reestablishing myself in Virginia & visiting Robin’s Hope, a place that I had heard so much about. I was welcomed by Heather Pate who had heard of me from friends. While living in New York, my PRS certification had run, Heather asked If I would like to start working on my hours to recertify & I was more than happy to do so. On November 28, 2023, I will celebrate 25 years of being free from drug use. I hope to one day bring a dual diagnosis group to Robin’s Hope to help others navigate the path that I traveled.
I am Jess Venema, PRS Intern.Came to Robin's Hope in August 2023. Active advocate in SUD Recovery. Group Facilitator, Blogger, and a Writer. Currently working on a book about my struggles and success in recovery.