The NEST (Networking and Engagement Services Team) is the peer recovery center at The Fortune Society which provides a safe space for recreation, skill-building groups and an opportunity to connect with other participants with similar life experiences. The NEST also prides itself on being peer-led, and Javier and Angel are two examples of how participants make the NEST their own as they support each other through long-term recovery.
Angel initially came to Fortune for other services and went to the peer recovery center on a whim: “Something just grabbed me about the NEST – it was the energy or the people in there…I sat down in there and started observing and seeing how the people in there were helping others while working on themselves, too.”
He was eventually offered an internship with the NEST, which gave him a more formal role in supporting the success of his peers. As an intern, Angel had the opportunity to facilitate group sessions and use his experiences to guide his teaching.
Since Angel’s internship has ended, he has gone on to find a full-time job in culinary arts. While he enjoys his work, he recognizes that the kitchen can sometimes be a hard spot for someone in active recovery. The environment often includes celebrating with alcohol at the end of an event, for example. Angel knows that he can continue to rely on The NEST and his peers as he navigates his new terrain: “I still come here every day. I know I don’t want to be stirred up, so I stay in The NEST and that keeps me grounded. I’ve found this purpose that leads to my peace of mind.”
Javier has also found a way to make the NEST his home base at Fortune. He wanted to give back to the space by creating a mural on the back wall of The NEST to inspire and encourage his peers.
“I’m an artist, and being that this is a place of positivity, I thought the walls should be more colorful than this. The NEST is for the people. I can put my little bit into it and make it better. All I can do is take the energy I get and put my energy back in, and I think that doing the wall was me putting my energy back in.”
Javier has also gotten plenty out of his experience in the NEST thus far – including motivation to focus on his education.
As someone in recovery, Javier shares that trusting people with his experiences and emotions can be tough, but he feels comfortable being his honest self in the community at the NEST.
“Doing the groups in there, which has helped me more than I ever expected – I really look forward to coming over here now and seeing my peers that I really do trust. They’re my brothers. I can really engage with them and they really encourage me when I’m with them. The most important piece is that there is a lot of trust.”
And while Javier recognizes that there can be slip ups along the way – in his journey and in others – he knows that the NEST and Fortune will continue to be a safe place for him to land.
“All the people that I’ve come across are built to help. That’s why I love this place.”