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Embracing Lived-Experience to Create Change | February Confab

Hi NJPN Community,

We're excited to share with you February’s Confab highlights on the topic of "Embracing Lived Experience to Create Change" featuring our dynamic guest speakers Cindymarie Dix (she/her) and Rachel Clapsis (they/them).

Cindymarie is currently serving as the Co-Chair of the New Jersey Coalition for Addiction Recovery Support (NJ-CARS) and is a dedicated leader in the field of peer recovery support, with a wealth of experience in directing multiple recovery programs and fostering the growth of recovery communities statewide.


Rachel Clapsis is a dedicated advocate in long-term recovery, holding a degree in gender studies and social justice. Rachel is the Project Coordinator for NJ- CARS, and they are deeply committed to the NJ-CARS mission of cultivating a robust “Recovery Ecosystem” in New Jersey.


February's Confab Highlights:


Together we created a space for conversation where all confab participants were encouraged to contemplate the significance of sharing personal stories to drive change. The discussion underscored the power and importance of our voices, emphasizing how our lived experiences can shape our communities and the availability of resources for support.


Our guest speakers' discussion focused on a variety of strategies and opportunities to utilize lived experience to be a changemaker in the peer recovery space, including how through the mission of the NJ-CARS this goal can be achieved through collaboration.


The NJ-CARS mission as an inclusive platform is to celebrate the hope of recovery, promote the value of individuals with lived and living experience, to incorporate and strengthen recovery support services across the continuum of care for substance use disorders throughout New Jersey.


All are welcomed and invited to become a member of NJ-CARS! The coalition provides a no-cost membership to join as an individual or organization; please follow the link for more information https://nj-cars.org/

Cindy and Rachel shared with us a variety of opportunities to become involved through NJ-CARS initiatives including the Leadership Academy, a 7-week workshop developed to guide and strengthen academy participants' professional, interpersonal, and leadership skills.


Participants will also work one-on-one with a mentor to discuss their goals and craft an individual leadership plan. The academy is offered free of charge eliminating financial barriers with no individual cost associated.



Join NJ-CARS for a wonderful chance to collaborate statewide! Rachel and Cindy shared with us this valuable opportunity through the NJ-CARS Ad-Hoc Committees. The committees meet monthly and welcome all stakeholders, professionals, peers, community members, and family members who are interested in making a positive impact and change for the NJ recovery community.



Learn More About Our Guest Speakers:



Cindymarie Dix (she/her) plays a pivotal role in advancing recovery initiatives and advocating for individuals on their journey to wellness. Cindymarie has spearheaded various recovery support programs across New Jersey. Under her guidance, she has successfully expanded the reach of peer recovery services by overseeing Recovery Community Centers in Hudson, Union, and Middlesex County.


Cindymarie’s impact extends beyond organizational leadership, as she actively engages in community outreach and advocacy efforts. She facilitates training sessions such as the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy, equipping individuals with the skills and knowledge to support peers on the path to recovery. Furthermore, she plays a pivotal role in NJ-CARS communications, utilizing various platforms to amplify the coalition's message and engage stakeholders across the state. Her strategic leadership, coupled with her passion for advocacy, continues to drive positive change within the addiction recovery community, making a lasting impact on the lives of individuals and families across New Jersey.


Rachel Clapsis (they/them) is the Project Coordinator for NJ CARS, with three years of experience as a Peer Support Specialist for Mercer County Support Team for Addiction Recovery (STAR), they are passionately working towards creating inclusive spaces where community members can unite to address and bridge the gaps in care for those in need. Through their work, Rachel aims to foster an environment of support, understanding, and progress within the recovery community.


Join Us for the Next Confab:


We invite you to mark your calendars for the last Tuesday of every month and join us virtually on Zoom for an enriching experience. Our Confabs provide a supportive space for individuals to explore holistic pathways to recovery, and we're excited to continue this journey with you.

Save the date for the upcoming Confab, where we'll delve into another compelling topic with our next guest speaker. It's an opportunity to connect with peers, share experiences, and discover new avenues for personal growth.





Jenna Reidy is a person in sustained recovery from a substance use disorder since 2008 and is a Peer Recovery Workforce Development Trainer at NJPN. She is a nationally certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist (NCPRSS) and has earned the National Diversity Council Certified Diversity Professional designation (NDCCDP). Jenna believes in being of service and values her multiple volunteer roles within her local community. She enjoys going on outdoor adventures with her dog, supporting the peer workforce through her role at NJPN, and prioritizes self-care through work life balance including taking breaks to recharge by spending time with her family and friends.


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