Peer Support Specialist for Northwest Housing Alternatives Pathways Program
Kim Kerkstra was born in Portland, Oregon. She has a daughter that is 30 years of age, and a son who would be turning 33 this year. In 2006, she lost her son to suicide. He had been diagnosed with severe bipolar and deep depression.
After experiencing countless years of domestic violence from the father of her two children, as well as fighting through the struggle of her addiction and the life style that trailed it, Kim knew that the time had come for her to do something different. She wanted to change her life around for herself, her daughter, and her grandchildren.
While spending time in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous, she met a woman from Bradley Angle, an Agency that helps survivors of Domestic Violence. She was presented with an opportunity to work in the very place she had resided for years, which was a shelter where she began working in 2009 as an Advocate. She was a case manager for participants that specifically had a history of drugs, alcohol, and mental health. She then advanced to the Lead Emergency Service Specialist, which involved peer support for the folks entering shelters with these issues. This work also included families connected with DHS and other system involvement, helping them with resources and transportation to both medical and legal appointments, any other situations that arose.
She received her Interpersonal Peer Support Specialist Certificate as well as her Certified Recovery Mentor Certificate through Bradley Angle. After working for 9 years for this agency she still continues to do the work as an on call staff.
It is with great compassion that Kim is able to meet her peers where they are at, listening and sharing their experiences, strengths, and hopes with others, or just as a listening ear.