Kimberly Chansen

Christina DyeRecovery Services Administrator
Recovery Innovations of North Carolina

My journey has led me all over the US, from Michigan to California, from New Jersey to Massachusetts, and currently finds me in North Carolina.  Durham started out as a compromise between the snowy northern winters where my family lives and the too-far-for-frequent-family-visits California sunshine, but I have come to really love the unhurried friendliness, the abundant and accessible nature, and the milder winters (with just enough snow for my six year old son to ride his sled a few times a year).  I studied English, Sociology and Theology in college in Los Angeles and then received my Masters of Divinity from Boston University with a focus in counseling.  During my studies in Boston, I was constantly struck by the disconnect between my coursework and the real lives of individuals in our community.  As part of my self-directed course of study, I completed two year-long internships, one in a day shelter for women and children and one at an agency providing HIV/ADIS services.  I remember sitting in class and listening to lectures and thinking “what does this have to do with the people I was working with yesterday?” – the woman screaming in the shelter showers as she relived trauma from her time in a concentration camp? the children sleeping in the streets of Boston?  While doing what I could to support healing in my community, I was also beginning a process of self-healing.  By choosing a self-directed educational track, I was able to take courses at universities all over Boston and to choose the courses that spoke to me.  On the surface these courses in family systems and trauma, in abuse and society, all fit nicely with my concentration in counseling, but they were also an essential part of my own personal healing journey.  I found that by being present with others and witnessing their struggles, their pain, and their healing, I was able to begin healing myself.  And I was blessed to have professors that encouraged the students to be deeply present with their own stories and use those powerful, personal experiences as a focal point and living example in the required projects and papers.

 

After three Boston winters, I took my MDiv degree and followed my sunshine-starved spirit back to CA where I began working with teens in a group home on Hollywood Boulevard and eventually found myself working with children in foster care in the Los Angeles area.  I loved working with children and supporting families and initially looked to work in that field when I moved with my partner to North Carolina in 2002.  But, I was presented with the opportunity to work with adults instead, specifically with adults who were seeking support from the community mental health system.  After six years at a local provider agency I was offered the wonderful opportunity to work for Recovery Innovations and open one of the first Wellness Cities.  It has been and continues to be an amazing journey of unburying and validating those healing truths from my days in Boston (the ideas that the people have the answers, that the solution doesn’t come from the “experts” but from the individual, and the power of our own personal stories in healing).  How wonderful it is to work with others who share those beliefs and who are committed to spreading the message of hope and possibility.