25 Years | 25 Stories – Gary Fair

Gary Fair, Program Manager

Putting Clients to Work for Recovery

In 1991, Gary Fair’s first job at the WellPower was transporting consumers who lived in the organization’s residential facilities to day treatment programs. Over time he steadily built his career in the NextChapter Program. Today he is a program manager overseeing three teams comprised of consumers who work for the WellPower part-time—greeters at the Recovery Center, the Pro-Survey team, and the 17-member peer mentor team.

When I first started 23 years ago, I didn’t intend to stay. But I kept getting the chance to do different kinds of jobs over the years. The one that stands out is employment specialist. I gained a lot of insight and experience in working with people where they are at.

I helped several people get jobs who are still employed, and I still have a relationship with some of them and support them even now… coaching them to go for a position they’ve dreamed about. It’s great they’ve been able to keep a job with a livable wage, and even for some to get off public assistance and keep moving along in their recovery.

One of my best stories is about a man who had a really difficult time getting out in the community. We would meet in coffee shops, and I eventually got him to come into NextChapter and work on his resume and set job goals. He had a talent for website development, so we helped him with a job he could do on his own. Now he’s had his own business working out of his home for about six years. That’s after having very little hope and being unsure of himself.

I’ve also seen a lot of disappointments and setbacks, but more success stories. That is what makes it worth it.

As for the future, peer support is really the going thing right now. Peer support will be used more and more to help consumers toward recovery. There’s no substitute for really understanding and saying, “I know what you’re going through,”—to be a good model for someone going through a severe state of depression and showing them that you got through and are still here today.

I can’t see myself doing anything else—watching people grow… working for an organization that believes people can and do get better… and witnessing that firsthand.