Carolyn Parsons, PWS, PSS
Peer Support Specialist for Clackamas County Older Adult Program

Carolyn Parsons started life in a highly abusive home. Her mom was a Displaced Person in Poland during WWII, and also an alcoholic. Social services were non-existent then and she was placed in several group homes because she ran away many times. The worst one was called “Geneva,” located in Nebraska. She finally got away from there and wasn’t found until she was 19. She was homeless and traveled from city to city. She was on the run for years, not wanting to be found. She met her then husband and had two daughters. Carolyn took off again, because she did not know how to deal with trauma and became homeless and addicted. She found her way into relationships that were dangerous and abusive. She was arrested many times and was put into the criminal justice system. Not knowing how to care for her daughters and not being able to see them, she felt she had nothing left to lose.

Carolyn had a third daughter in 1988. At that time, she was court mandated to treatment and had CPS involvement. The state put her in the JOBS program. With the support she received, she was able to get a GED and later diagnosed with mental health issues, as well as chronic health issues.

Carolyn loves how there are so many choices now in how people can define their own recovery. She believes people are not cookie-cut type people and don’t always fit a mold.

Over the last few years, she has been volunteering as a donations coordinator. Doing so has helped her to realize how much she loves helping people get comfortable, inside and out. She says “It might not happen right away, but when it does, it is amazing to see.” For Carolyn, it was like a domino effect. Once "it" started working, she says her life turned out to be wonderful!

Carolyn went to PCC and was enrolled in the A&D program. It wasn’t a good time and wasn’t quite the right fit for her, so she switched gears and completed a Peer Mentor program. She also completed a Peer Wellness/Peer Support program. That felt like a better fit for her.  She is excited and motivated to walk with others on their path of recovery and is not afraid of people’s emotional or physical scars, because she has dealt with a few of her own. She says “we no longer have to do this alone.”

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