Jeremy McKenzie, founder and chief executive officer of Covenant Recovery Inc., spoke at the recent meeting of the DuBocage American Business Women’s Association held at the Pine Bluff Country Club.
Nick Mastowski, a counselor in training at Covenant since January 2013, and Erin Tabor and Tamera Anderson, residents at Covenant, were also guest speakers.
Covenant Recovery Inc. was a vision McKenzie had of a transitional living facility to help people overcome the bad choices they had made in life and to become productive citizens. He started with a dilapidated, striped building in 2008, living and working in the building until the end of 2011 when he took in his first five clients. The money to run Covenant mostly comes from the clients but they do have a few individuals who make donations. The cost is $700 per month but no one is turned away. The program is made up of clients from all over, very few from Pine Bluff. That is because they exhaust the resources in their hometowns and need to get out of town to get a fresh start.
Clients are taught responsibility by learning to pay their own way. They are helped to get a job after being in house for at least 30 days and are taught resume-writing, job interview skills, how to obtain personal identification, daily meditations, and GED classes. There is an advisory board that meets quarterly consisting of Mac Norton, president, Scarlett Hatcher, Travis Creed, Sonny Foster and Paul Henry.
McKenzie has received certification through the Arkansas Substance Abuse Certification Board as a drug and alcohol counselor with nine years of dealing with clients of substance abuse. He is a graduate of Pulaski Technical College and has completed various courses at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He was recently awarded the first Citizen of the Year Award by the Pine Bluff Downtown Lions Club in 2012. He is married to Kenita and has a son.
Mastowski is 26 years old and from Pennsylvania. He graduated from Blytheville High School with honors and is currently a senior at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff majoring in social work. He is also a graduate of the program at Covenant Recovery. He is registered with the Arkansas Substance Abuse Certification Board as a counselor in training and has been a volunteer youth leader in Mississippi County for Teen Summit, a drug and alcohol awareness workshop for high school students. In May of 2015 he will have completed a bachelor’s in social work and be a certified alcohol and drug counselor.
Tabor is from Hot Springs and is a resident at Covenant Recovery. This is the third rehabilitation center she has been in and says Covenant has changed her life for the better. The difference is how it is run and how it taught her to depend on herself giving her a chance to start over.
Anderson is from Jonesville and has been at Covenant for a month. She said Covenant is working because the focus is on responsibility, encouraging each resident to get a job and to learn to pay their own bills.
During the business meeting, Patsy Stone read the letter nominating the Business Associate of the Year for 2014, which is McKenzie. Business Associate is chosen by a member writing a letter about the person’s business experience, education, and accomplishments along with the member’s recommendation while keeping the letter to 250 words or less. The letter was written by Donna Renfro. Special guests for the meeting were Everett Coburn, Billy Farrell, David Gammel, and Ron Renfro.