On this episode of PEER Voices, our hosts, Juliet C. Dorris-Williams and Gabe Howard, are joined by TPC’s Assistant Director, Deidra James.  Deidra has been with The PEER Center since its founding, and is a critical component of the agency’s success.

Deidra’s cheerfulness, enthusiasm, and sunny disposition can make our difficult work feel easier.  Listen in as Deidra explains her role at TPC, shares some of her fondest memories, and tells us how stress can be a necessary part of growth. 

Show Notes: 

4:22 – “We try to make it as easy and comfortable because it can be frightening, it can be anxiety provoking.”  (Being friendly and personable helps people accept peer support.)

6:13 – “I wish there had been a PEER Center type place when I was diagnosed because I was very scared and I had no idea about other people dealing with it or what was real. You see TV and that’s all you know.” (Misinformation about mental illness is common.  Popular culture does not provide examples of people living in recovery.)

10:59 – “… some of our work requirements are that people have to have some tools and they have some time already.”  (It takes time to settle in to your own recovery before you are ready to provide support for others.)

14:30 – “There’s more to working [in peer support] than just being a person with lived experience or just being a person in recovery. That doesn’t necessarily qualify you.”  (Simply being in recovery does not qualify someone to be a peer recovery supporter.  Other skills are required.)

18:48 – “… to work well with the current team and being able to . . . fit in . . . to complement the people you’re working with.”   (It is important for a team of peer recovery supporters to work well together.)

Editor’s Note:  This transcript is computer generated and therefore may not be an exact match to the recording.

Announcer: [00:00:05] You’re listening to the PEER Voices podcast. This show is for peers, by peers, and focuses on information that’s important to our community. Here’s your hosts Juliet Dorris-Williams and Gabe Howard.

Gabe: [00:00:25] Hello, everyone, and welcome to this episode of PEER Voices. My name is Gabe Howard and I’m here with-

Juliet: [00:00:31] Juliet Dorris-Williams. Hello. Hello.

Gabe: [00:00:33] And in addition to Juliet, so Juliet is the head of The PEER Center. She’s like number one. So we decided to bring in the number two person at The PEER Center whose official title. Are you ready? Deidre is assistant director of The PEER Center.

Juliet: [00:00:50] And how long did it take you to remember that?

Gabe: [00:00:52] I had you write it down.

Gabe: [00:00:54] It’s been four years, and I think this is the first time that I’ve ever publicly stated Deidre James’ title correctly.

Deidra: [00:01:01] I agree.

Gabe: [00:01:02] You have been everything. You’ve been Juliet’s assistant, you’ve been the executive assistant director.

Juliet: [00:01:07] Oh, my gosh. The associate executive director. Yeah.

Gabe: [00:01:13] So we know that I don’t know your title. We’ve established that. Can you tell our audience what you do for The PEER Center?

Deidra: [00:01:19] Well, I’m assistant director, as we have clarified and I supervise some of the staff, the program director, and the peer support supervisors, as well as calendar, programming, sort of scheduling. Lots of different things.

Gabe: [00:01:42] You help run The PEER Center.

Deidra: [00:01:44] Yes.

Gabe: [00:01:45] That’s really what it boils down to. You help Juliet run The PEER Center. And you’ve been here since? I know it’s a hot button, but you’ve been here since day one. Right?

Deidra: [00:01:54] That is correct.

[00:01:55] Are you a “day oner?”

Deidra: [00:01:55] I believe so.

Gabe: [00:01:56] Now, we had Renetta on the show.

Juliet: [00:01:59] She’s a day oner, too.

Gabe: [00:01:59] And Renetta said that she was like a “day negative twoer” because she beat Juliet here.

Juliet: [00:02:03] Deidra did as well. She might be on day one or negative five if that’s the formula. I think you were here maybe a week or so before I was here. So.

Deidra: [00:02:17] It was in December.

Gabe: [00:02:19] Yeah.

Deidra: [00:02:20] And so it was before we opened the organization, which wasn’t called The PEER Center at the time. But yeah, I think I remember meeting Juliet because-

Juliet: [00:02:29] Yes, you were already here.

Deidra: [00:02:31] Yeah. And I was already there at the meetings to start prep work.

Juliet: [00:02:36] Deidra is in charge when I’m not around. And she didn’t say that.

Gabe: [00:02:41] Do you have check signing abilities? Asking for a friend.

Juliet: [00:02:45] She has signature authority. Not check signing, but signature authority.

Gabe: [00:02:49] I mean, you say it one way. I say it the other way.

Juliet: [00:02:52] No. No, those are two completely different things, Gabe. Clearly you have not been an executive director of an organization.

Gabe: [00:03:01] This much is absolutely certain.

Juliet: [00:03:03] So having signature authority does not necessarily correlate to signing checks.

Gabe: [00:03:07] So I’ve been kissing up for nothing?

Deidra: [00:03:10] Afraid so.

Gabe: [00:03:10] So you’ve also been a peer supporter for a long time. You’ve worked on the symposiums, you’ve traveled the state, you do you speak to what is the name of the program where you go out and talk to our peers? It has a really cool name.

Deidra: [00:03:24] It’s POP! It stands for Peer Outreach Program. And yes, we go talk to various people who might be interested in coming to The PEER Center and participating in our services. Sometimes we talk as an in-service, but usually the intention of the POP! is to invite people to become associates to join The PEER Center and participate.

Juliet: [00:03:49] It’s just to, you know, to get them comfortable with one community support because most of the time, pretty much all of the time, they are getting ready to be discharged out into the community. And so and it is difficult for people to come into a strange place and just take that step. It’s a pretty brave and scary step for people. And we try to take some of that fear out by giving them a face and a virtual tour and a stress ball.

Deidra: [00:04:22] We try to make it as easy and comfortable because it can be frightening, it can be anxiety provoking.

Juliet: [00:04:28] Yeah.

Deidra: [00:04:29] So we try to just give them the warmest welcome before they even get here.

Juliet: [00:04:32] Yeah.

Deidra: [00:04:32] Let them know this is what you expect. I talk about, you know, the associate packet. I talk about the layout of the centers.

Juliet: [00:04:40] The groups.

Deidra: [00:04:42] Yeah, we go over the calendar if they have any questions about the different groups or activities. I try to lay it all out for them. I give them all printed material so they don’t have to try to remember everything. I always tell them like, you know, if you come to expect this, ask me if you want to. Like that way they can just have a familiar face and just kind of ease that anxiety about going somewhere new. Because like you said, a lot of people are already when I go to different agencies to talk to people, they’re usually about to be discharged and they’re trying to build, like you said, like Juliet said, the community supports things they can do on their own when they’re out of their agency besides their case manager or their counselor or their doctors or whatever it might be.

Gabe: [00:05:27] And it’s not just a way to extend The PEER Center out into the community, but it’s also a way to extend peer support out in the community. Because, like you said, some of these folks are being discharged and they wonder what’s next. They haven’t met any peers. They don’t know what’s going on. Maybe they’re still in that. I’m the only one mindset. And the advantage of Deidre is not only are you a PEER Center employee, so obviously you have the power to invite people here as most people do. But you’re also a peer. Can you tell us? That is the weirdest question ever, but can you tell us why you’re a peer?

Deidra: [00:06:00] Well, I can maybe just describe it.

Juliet: [00:06:03] Show us your peer card.

Deidra: [00:06:03] I know. I feel like I’m not sure that I can explain the why.

Gabe: [00:06:07] We know you are a peer.  What is your lived experience?

Deidra: [00:06:13] So what makes me peer, I guess, is I’m a person living with mental illness. I was diagnosed as bipolar disorder and anxiety. And I’ve been dealing with those for a number of years and I’ve come quite a long way. You know, I use those experiences just kind of to relate to people, because people who especially people who are newly diagnosed like The PEER Center wasn’t didn’t exist when I was dealing with that. And so I think, you know, to have somebody who’s like, oh, I have like a similar if not, you know, if not the same, at least a similar diagnosis experience that we can relate to. And so that you can kind of not feel that I’m alone. You have somebody else with you. The peer support anyway. So if you did find somebody who had similar lived experience and then, you know, can it help you feel not alone and supported and kind of give you some tools and some strategies and some helpful information. Or even if you’re not providing resources and information, just that kinship kind of a thing. Similar experiences that it brought you to similar locations. I do. I wish there had been a PEER Center type place when I was diagnosed because I was very scary and I had no idea, again, about other people dealing with it or what was real. You see everything you see in the TV and all that, you know. So I did start going to a support group and that was really beneficial and I was active in that support group and that’s when I had started that I decided to try to get back to work, to start to join the workforce. And I went through another organization that helps people with mental illness get jobs. And they got me started. And it was like a community based work adjustment program where they like they would pay for you to work essentially in an environment that you’re interested in learning those skills and stuff like that. And so while I was it was kind of like it was almost kind of like doing an internship, but getting paid for it to help practice, you know, get to work on time and interact with people, arrange childcare. Well, you know, whatever. Whatever your barriers were, to help you work through them. And so while I was doing that program is when there was a grant that was written to open up a peer led organization.

Gabe: [00:08:37] And they just put you second in charge of the whole thing? Just like that?

Deidra: [00:08:39] Not quite.

Gabe: [00:08:39] So on your first day, second in charge?

Juliet: [00:08:39] Maybe five days in or something like that.

Deidra: [00:08:45] It was actually pretty close.

Juliet: [00:08:48] Because I think you were already you had already transitioned from a peer supporter to a program manager.

Deidra: [00:08:56] Yeah. Actually.

Juliet: [00:08:57] By the time I got there.

Deidra: [00:08:58] It’s a true story. Actually, I was hired as a peer supporter and I was looking for full time employment. And the management was actually supposed to have been two part time managers, program managers. And I was looking for full time. And so I said I was interested in both positions, but I was like, well, I’ll take the peer support because that’s all one. There was one full time position and they brought me back in the office like it was like a day later or so and said, if we make the management one person full time, would you take that position? So I said, yes.

Gabe: [00:09:33] And clearly it worked out because that was for those who don’t know those 12 years ago.

Deidra: [00:09:38] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:09:38] Isn’t that right?

Juliet: [00:09:38] Twelve years ago.

Gabe: [00:09:40] Yeah. But this is not something that happened yesterday. You excelled in this position for well over a decade. Not to out your age. You started when you were ten.

Deidra: [00:09:46] Right.

Gabe: [00:09:50] One of the things you said when you were talking is it was very helpful for you personally, Deidre, to meet other people along the way who were doing it, who were, you know, other peers, because when you were the beginning of your journey, going to those support groups, you know, sort of helped show you that it can be done. It’s always easier to do something after you’ve seen somebody else do it.

Deidra: [00:10:12] Yes.

Gabe: [00:10:13] And that’s the role that you fill now, both inside The PEER Center for people who walk in and outside of The PEER Center, when you do like a POP! program or you do health fairs or you speak on panels or you co-present and things like that. Talk about why it’s so important from your perspective that you help train other people to be you. Because you’re also in charge of for The PEER Center helping new employees of The PEER Center. I don’t want to say become little Deidras, but to become ambassadors for peer supported and to help welcome people. And it’s not innate. You have 12 years of experience. What do you impart to new people who walk in the door and they’ve got that I’m a hero, I’m gonna save the world mentality of a peer supporter. How do you make them great?

Juliet: [00:10:59] Can I interject here? They come in great already because in our vetting and our interview process, even some of our work requirements that people have recovery tools and recovery experience already under their belt before they come here. While we are fully, fully supportive of people who are newly out of the gate and they are they’re starting their recovery journey. So we’re so supportive and we want them here. We are intentional about needing people, wanting people to be here ready to extend the hand of support more than they need the hand of support at any given point. And so, some of our work requirements or job specs, I guess they call them, are that people have to have some tools and they have some time already. That they’ve already been practicing before we see them. So they show up as heroes. We support their continued journey. We completely highlight and emphasize self care. Doing your own work, continuing your work. Just, you know, you’ve got a job here, even more importantly, that you continue your recovery work when you’re here. So I don’t want to say that we make heroes. I want to say that we make a home for heroes.

Gabe: [00:12:26] So this now, of course, ask the question, how do you figure out who the heroes are? Because it would be great if all heroes, you know, came in with the capes and, you know, they were all perfect and everybody understood their own recovery. And we do have the certification programs through the state of Ohio.

Juliet: [00:12:42] Yeah

Gabe: [00:12:43] And that certainly helps because now we have some training.

Juliet: [00:12:45] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:12:45] But some of our folks start before they’ve gone through that process because, you know, it’s still so new. So, you know, you have your teacher. Deidra, you’ve got a hard job. I mean, how do you know when the person is ready? Because I would venture to guess that anybody applying thinks they’re ready. But can we admit that, you know, sometimes even though they’re excited and they think they’re ready, maybe they’re not quite? And then how do you not like squish their spirits? Because there was a point in time that Gabe wasn’t ready, but then Gabe got ready later because I got good advice. You know, Juliet helped me and lots of people along the way gave me advice and helped me become a hero. So I’m glad that when Juliet first found me, she’s not like, Oh God, you’re so wrong. Go get better. Because that would have been, you know. So we know, Juliet does it. How do you how do you do? Because you’ve interviewed a lot of people.

Deidra: [00:13:30] Yes.

Gabe: [00:13:30] Like like hundreds?

Deidra: [00:13:35] Typically, we have like solid process for hiring. The hiring process. And so we have, you know, a good list of questions or reference checks, things like that. And so I feel like sometimes, you know, we have to ask the questions, you know. What are you doing for your own self care? What do you do? What kind of energizes you? What gets you going? You know, we ask a lot besides work related questions as well. We ask different types of questions. And I didn’t make up the questions. So I can’t take credit for that. But I do think.

Juliet: [00:14:10] They’ve evolved.

Deidra: [00:14:11] They have evolved over the years.

Juliet: [00:14:13] Yeah.

Deidra: [00:14:13] Yeah. We’ve determined like maybe we should ask it this way or maybe we should ask it.

Juliet: [00:14:18] Add it sooner, ask a new question.

Deidra: [00:14:18] Ask a new question. So it definitely has evolved that I think as far as you know, when interviewing people, trying to see where they are and if they’re a good fit, because I think sometimes.

Juliet: [00:14:30] Yes.

Deidra: [00:14:30] And correct me if I’m getting off topic, but I think sometimes you have people who are in recovery who have really great recovery stories. I mean, everybody has a great recovery story with their own recovery. But as far as being able to work in this specific type of environment, it takes a specific skill set. And I think there’s more to working at The PEER Center specifically than just being a person with lived experience or just being a person in recovery. That doesn’t necessarily qualify you. You know, you have to have good communication skills. We’re a drop in center. And so while we do have structured groups and activities and things like that, there’s also a lot of kind of downtime where people need to be able to be flexible, go with the flow, monitor the center as a whole as far as, you know, maintaining like a sense of hope and a recovery focused environment. So if the environment starts to shift, you want to try to get it back on track. So it’s kind of like.

Juliet: [00:15:34] It’s monitoring the energy.

Deidra: [00:15:35] Yeah, that’s exactly what it is.

Juliet: [00:15:37] Yeah.

Deidra: [00:15:37] I wasn’t going to use those words. I’m glad you did. I thought I didn’t know how that would sound. That’s exactly what it is. So I think it’s something like that you try to kind of pick up when you’re interviewing people as far as how can they handle situations. And we ask a lot of questions about how to handle these different types of situations, how we handle them in the past. What would you do differently now, if anything? Stuff like that. To kind of get to the bottom of or to the root of how they will be able to handle the various situations that could occur.

Gabe: [00:16:11] Thank you. The next question, I have, and again, just from your own personal experience, I think we should point out that, you know, every manager at The PEER Center does something different. Even Deidra, you know, over 12 years, you obviously have evolved. We all learn from each other, etc. But the specific question I have is let’s say that you get somebody and you’re thinking to themselves, man, someday they could be great. But maybe they’ve just gotten into recovery. Maybe they’re still a little skittish maybe or a little bit worried. So you’re thinking that now is not the time to hire them, but you don’t want to discourage them from moving forward because, you know, maybe in a year from now, after they get a little more recovery, a little more experience, maybe they volunteer somewhere, they’d be great. How do you talk to that person to let them know that now isn’t the right time, but to keep their energy and their excitement up? Because in a year from now, they could be hired at The PEER Center and stay forever? It’s not just a regular, we’re not a business. I guess what’s on I’m trying to say we’re not a business where we’re just like, look, there’s no job available for you. And then they just go off. We are building peers up here.

Juliet: [00:17:11] We are a business, though. We are a business. And I want to go back to something that Deidra said about that it being it being a specific skill set. And people, our peers, our community. There is some misunderstanding, I think, or I’m not sure what it is, but people there are people who believe that the fact that they have lived experience of mental illness, addiction or trauma qualifies them uniquely to do this job. And then that’s not so.

Gabe: [00:17:45] That’s a single requirement. It’s not all of the requirements

Juliet: [00:17:46] Right, a single requirement. And what Deidra said about the skills, the being able to assess the environment or monitor the energy. Being open and flexible monitoring for safety. Because our environment needs to be safe. Being able to handle conflict without getting yourself all out of out of order. Being able to successfully do those things are a part of the skill set. And so it’s not just the fact that you are, or that we are people with lived experience. So we could do a whole podcast on that.

Gabe: [00:18:28] Yes, we could. Yes, we could.

Deidra: [00:18:30] I’m sorry. I just wanted to chime in on that, too. Because I think it’s a specific skill set. But then also within the current employees we already have, you want to find a good fit, too.

Juliet: [00:18:41] Yes.

Deidra: [00:18:42] So somebody may apply who like this person is great. But I just.

Juliet: [00:18:46] They’re not going to play well in their sandbox.

Deidra: [00:18:48] Right? Exactly. And so sometimes there’s it’s multifaceted, I guess is the word I’m looking for, because you have to have not only the skill set to be a peer supporter and work in and drop in type environment, but then also be able to work well with the current team and being able to, you know, just kind of fit in with your specific lived experiences to complement kind of people you’re working with. You know what I mean?

Gabe: [00:19:17] Absolutely.

Juliet: [00:19:18] And as a business, we have to respond in a business like way. If we decline to move forward with a second interview, which was what your question was, how do we not dash people’s hopes?

Gabe: [00:19:30] Yeah.

Juliet: [00:19:31] We need people to recognize that this is a legitimate job. And an interview means that you could go one way or the other. An interview does not guarantee employment. Our human resources consultant would be proud of me for saying that. It does not guarantee you employment. And there is a multifaceted list of reasons as to why we would people would not move forward to a second interview. We try not to get into that much because, you know, we have to be legal and compliant and all of those things.

Gabe: [00:20:05] Yes. Let’s not get sued over the podcast.

Juliet: [00:20:07] Really? Yes. Yes.

Gabe: [00:20:08] The H.R. person would appreciate that as well.

Juliet: [00:20:10] Yes, yes.

Gabe: [00:20:11] Yes. Shout out to H.R.

Juliet: [00:20:13] Yes. Yes.

Gabe: [00:20:14] We’re nearing the end of our show. And again, like you said, you were a day oner. So you’ve been you’ve been with The PEER Center literally since the very beginning. So let’s take a moment. Dig deep. What is your favorite memory of The PEER Center?

Deidra: [00:20:26] Oh, wow.

Juliet: [00:20:29] I have one for you.

Deidra: [00:20:31] Oh. Okay.

Gabe: [00:20:33] We’ll cut it out and make it seem like you came up with it.

Juliet: [00:20:35] Yeah, I remember the first video. The soup. The very first video they did.

Deidra: [00:20:41] Yeah.

Juliet: [00:20:41] That was great of you.

Deidra: [00:20:44] Oh.

Juliet: [00:20:44] Yeah.

Deidra: [00:20:45] Thanks.

Juliet: [00:20:47] Do you remember?

Deidra: [00:20:48] I’m trying to remember. Was this the one that they did at 1203, right?

Juliet: [00:20:53] 1203, yeah.

Deidra: [00:20:53] Okay.

Juliet: [00:20:53] And they filmed the ADAM-H video. It’s on the website.

Deidra: [00:20:57] It used to be on-line. It used to be on YouTube, I mean.

Juliet: [00:21:00] It’s on ADAM-H’s YouTube.

Deidra: [00:21:01] Yeah.

Juliet: [00:21:02] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:21:04] So pick it up and pretend, we’ll cut all that out.

Juliet: [00:21:07] That was mine. It was my favorite, it wasn’t her favorite.

Deidra: [00:21:07] Well, that video was never my favorite.

Juliet: [00:21:14] She had, well, her part of the video. It was very nice.

Gabe: [00:21:21] So while you’re thinking about that, I will tell you my favorite Deidra memory in the last four years. So, because I remember I wasn’t a day oner. I was a day eight-years-and-seven-monthser. My favorite is when we did the very first PEERdance. Not the EEOW!

Juliet: [00:21:39] Ah.

Gabe: [00:21:39] So I guess it was the first one in the ballroom that we called PEERdance in the ballroom. You were the first person to go out and dance. You know, we had a deejay and we were in this marble ballroom. And, you know, I was just, can we say nuts? I was just nuts. Because, you know, we were trying to and it was the first time we did it. And we were. And, you know, I was just I was just. And I look over and you’re in a red dress and you’re dancing. And there was kids around you and you just looked so happy.

Deidra: [00:22:04] Oh, yeah.

Gabe: [00:22:06] And that is that is one of the coolest things about Deidra. She’s like that. She is like the optimistic cheerleading sunshine of The PEER Center.

Deidra: [00:22:13] Aww, thank you.

Gabe: [00:22:14] You are. You are just an incredibly positive spirit. And, I think that resonates with not only the staff, but with the associates as well.

Deidra: [00:22:23] Thank you.

Gabe: [00:22:24] So now it’s your turn. I mean, Juliet had her favorite memory. I’ve had my favorite memory. So.

Deidra: [00:22:29] Ok, so. Oh, my goodness. I’m really, I don’t even know.

Gabe: [00:22:32] She’s like pay days, I like pay days.

Deidra: [00:22:34] I do like pay days. But ‘m trying to I mean, like my favorite memory of The PEER Center?

Gabe: [00:22:41] In twelve years? The favorite thing that you’ve ever been part of? Or that you’ve done?

Deidra: [00:22:45] So many great things. And I’m not just saying that and I’m trying.

Gabe: [00:22:51] No, we believe you.

Deidra: [00:22:51] OK.

Gabe: [00:22:52] You’re disgustingly optimistic.

Deidra: [00:22:55] And I you know, I and I love The PEER Center. And so we have done like from moving, which is always, you know, stressful, but it’s always, you know, like a it’s a growth. And that feels good, and you’re proud of The PEER Center, and what we’re doing and things like that. You know, a couple times. I feel like I have a really good memory. It’s like on the cusp of my brain. But I’m like, which one I don’t even know because I just I love everything. I don’t even know. I could take a while. I’m sorry. Because now I’m rooting through every memory that I have of The PEER Center

Gabe: [00:23:27] I just like that you are so positive and optimistic that you listed moving as a positive experience.

Deidra: [00:23:33] But I mean, you know.

Gabe: [00:23:34] You started with moving and I was like this is the most negative.

Deidra: [00:23:37] No.

Gabe: [00:23:37] Moving is awful

Juliet: [00:23:37] Moving is awful, but the reason you move.

Deidra: [00:23:40] But the reason you move. That reason I mean, it was like and it was an exciting time. We’re looking for something new and bigger and growth and more people. And we had too many people. We didn’t you know, I’m talking living from 1221 to the excitement of moving to 750.

Juliet: [00:23:56] Yeah, we were super excited about that.

Deidra: [00:23:57] Yeah. And I think that even again and this is probably more of a stressful time, too. But when we did the merger.

Juliet: [00:24:05] Yeah.

Deidra: [00:24:06] That was a huge deal because we were still new, just off the ground ourselves. And they asked us to merge and take on this other agency, which, you know, makes you feel really proud of what you’re doing. And they like the way we did things. They liked our professionalism. They liked our work.

Juliet: [00:24:24] Our funder harassed us, yes.

Deidra: [00:24:24] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You know, that was one thing that was huge. And again, it’s probably stressful. Yes. But I think the big picture is always, you know, the positive, the growth. That all of that is just incredible. Also stressful. But I love the recovery celebrations because I think that really kind of gives all of our associates a chance to kind of get out of the center. Go to like, you know, well, any event that we do outside the center. But, you know, really, just to get a change of scenery, get a deejay like you mentioned, I’d love dancing. I try. I’m usually the first one on the dance floor, usually get pulled off the dance floor when it’s time to close the building. So but, you know, dancing, even people don’t want to dance. You know, if they want to just eat, we always have the food. People can play games and just that kind of fellowship and just, you know, that positive energy, fun. I mean, like, I don’t I think we do lots of things that we do are really great. And I loved that first PEERdance in that fancy hotel, that I couldn’t find but it was beautiful. It was just, you know, a lot of fun.

Gabe: [00:25:36] It might have been easier, Deidra, just to say, like, what’s your least favorite memory of The PEER Center? And you would be like that one day I drove in the snow. But then by the time you were done, you’re like, but the snow was beautiful and The PEER Center is warm. And it’s so important that we’re here.

Deidra: [00:25:55] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:25:55] Deidra, you really are one of probably the most positive people that I know. And I know my wife, who is basically sunshine walking. So thank you for all of that, because, you know, that kind of optimism is important in a place like The PEER Center.

Juliet: [00:26:09] It is.

Gabe: [00:26:10] It’s easy to get inside our own heads and focus on the things that have happened to us in the past instead of looking forward. And I personally think that you help everybody that you come in contact with look forward to something better than what they’ve come from. And I think that’s amazing.

Juliet: [00:26:27] It is.

Deidra: [00:26:28] Thank you.

Juliet: [00:26:29] Thank you. I’m glad you’re here.

Juliet: [00:26:30] Thank you. I’m glad to be here.

Gabe: [00:26:33] Thank you, Deidra for being here. Juliet, thank you for hosting with me.

Juliet: [00:26:37] Awesome. Thanks, Gabe.

Gabe: [00:26:38] You’re very welcome. We will see everybody next time on PEER Voices.

Announcer: [00:26:46] You’ve been listening to the PEER Voices podcast sponsored by The PEER Center with a grant from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. To learn more about this podcast, please visit OhioPeers.org. To learn more about The PEER Center please visit ThePEERCenter.org. We encourage you to share this podcast with other peers in our community. Thank you for listening, and see you next time on PEER Voices.


Deidra James has a B.A. in Psychology from The Ohio State University and is currently the Assistant Director of The P.E.E.R. Center. As one of the original staff members, Deidra has played an instrumental role in the development of TPC, beginning in 2007 until now. Then and now, she oversees the overall programming and scheduling of the Center activities, as well as provides direct supervision to the Peer Support Supervisors and the Program Director. She continues to strive to ensure that the Center meets the needs of those who come through the door and that TPC’s services are always focused on recovery and mutual respect. Being a person in recovery herself, Deidra is passionate about her work and believes it has meaning, purpose and value to provide support to other peers in her community.