Jeremy McKenzie, founder/chief executive officer of Covenant Recovery Inc., was recently awarded the first Citizen of the Year Award by the Pine Bluff Downtown Lions Club at the Pine Bluff Country Club.
McKenzie has received certification through the Arkansas Substance Abuse Certification Board as a drug and alcohol counselor with nine years of experience in dealing with clients of substance abuse. He is a 2010 graduate of Pulaski Technical College with a general studies degree and is working on his undergraduate studies at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
In 2005, McKenzie had a vision to start a transitional living facility in his hometown of Pine Bluff. He wanted to help people that have made some bad choices in life to become productive citizens in their community. He was able to acquire the old office of Standard and Brake Shoe in 2008. The structure was in very poor condition with walls and roof in some areas were caving in and no working utilities. McKenzie recruited friends and family to slowly help him with his huge renovation project that he had envisioned. During his spare time away from his full-time job, he began working to toward his goal of starting a facility to help others put their life back together. He lived in this building for two years as he slowly worked on needed repairs and to keep vandals from doing additional damage to the building.
At the end of December 2011, Covenant Recovery became a 50-bed transitional living facility to provide services to drug and alcohol abusers. He took in his first five clients at the end of 2011. Covenant is a private pay facility that cost $700 per month to clients that are in need. The clients are helped to get jobs after 30 days of being in-house so they can save money, pay rent and have little for personal needs. Clients are taught resume-writing, job interview skills, how to obtain personal identification, drug and alcohol education classes, GED classes and daily meditations.
McKenzie shared his story with the Downtown Lions, along with three of his clients, sharing their testimony of struggles with addiction. His clients explained how Covenant Recovery is helping them to get their lives back together. McKenzie was presented with the Citizen of the Year Award by Pine Bluff Downtown Lions Club President Eric Edwards.
Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service organization with over 1.35 million members in 207 countries and geographical areas. It was founded in 1917 by a Chicago businessman Melvin Jones. In 1925, Helen Keller asked the Lions to be “Knights for the Blind” and sight-impaired individuals. Lions Club International took this challenge and became an organization focusing on curing preventable blindness and sight impaired issues. LCI not only helps with sight impaired, but also helps with hearing, diabetes, world hunger, natural disasters and many other needs in communities around the world.
The Pine Bluff Downtown Lions supports World Services for the Blind in Little Rock, which teaches life skills to the blind and sight impaired. WSB is the only facility of its kind in the world with these types of services to the blind and visually impaired. They also support Mid South Sight and Hearing in Memphis that help individuals with surgeries that help correct sight issues and preventable blindness.
Locally the club works through Neighbor to Neighbor to provide eye exams and eyeglasses for people in need. The Downtowns Lions also sponsors delegates to Boys and Girls State each year. They also are involved in helping with the Pine Bluff Challenger Little League for physically and mentally challenged youth who want to play baseball just like any other child. The goal of the Downtown Lions is service in the Pine Bluff community.