Photo of a man wearing a green shirt with short brown hair. In the background is a bookshelf and a door.

Staff Spotlight – Meet Chris!

Hi – I’m Chris!

As the Peer Support Programs Team Lead, I oversee the Pathways Vermont Community Center and the Pathways Vermont Support Line. Over the course of nearly four years with Pathways, I have held various roles, including positions at Soteria House and the Community Center. My dedication to peer support extends beyond my work at Pathways; I also serve as the board of directors Co-Chair for Alyssum, a two-bed peer respite in Rochester, VT. Additionally, I recently had the opportunity to give testimony at the statehouse in support of peer certification. You can check out the video here (I present at 26:45)

In my role, I am responsible for supporting supervisors, facilitating the professional development of our staff, and ensuring accountability within both programs. I am continuously seeking ways to expand each program and better meet the needs of those we serve. I am passionate about meeting people where they are and finding ways to offer them what they need.

In my role, no two days are alike. My daily activities vary depending on whether my focus is more on the Support Line or the Community Center. A typical day working with the Vermont Support Line (VSL) could look like connecting with callers on the line or meeting with each Support Line shift to talk about challenges and approaches that some are finding helpful for connecting with those that are hard to connect with. A day at the Community Center could look like overseeing drop-in hours, connecting with community members over tea or coffee, and making sure all elements of things we are offering are still functioning and acting as a resource.

Pathways’ mission to end homelessness and provide innovative mental health alternatives inspires me because, working at Pathways, I have been able to meet many more people in the community and connect with others who are part of the peer movement. I am very passionate about people having access to alternative mental health supports. I think that a lot of harm is done in our traditional mental health system. A lot of it is done unintentionally, stemming from a place of not knowing the impacts of action and the lack of knowledge of different ways to do it that aren’t the medical model. We give people another option, something they can choose to opt into that is based in connections and relationships. We give people a space to not feel alone. It inspires me to find opportunities to make that happen for people, finding ways to meet people where they are at and offer people what they need.

I would say my most memorable experience at Pathways has been building the Community Center back from the pandemic and reestablishing relationships. It’s the moments when you pause and see all of these people in the space, and it is really thriving, that feel really good. I would say the unknown and potential of every day really motivate me to come to work. I have been leaning more into outreach work and building relationships with community partners, and I never know the impact I am having or what I am going to face. We are really fortunate to have a great team at the Community Center and on the Support Line where the work gets personal; we get involved; we care about folks. It is really passionate and raw work in both programs, and I am very grateful for them. There is a lot of expertise around Pathways, which makes the work we do possible.

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