Q&A with… Holly Jespersen, communications manager at Shatterproof
DARIEN — For Holly Jespersen, working and volunteering revolves around helping others.
The 43-year-old and third generation Darien resident has been a member of the Presbyterian Church since her upbringing in town and joined Shatterproof, a national nonprofit that seeks to help those impacted by addiction, in 2013.
Jespersen, who is in recovery, wants to reduce the stigmatization associated with addiction by helping others talk about their experiences through the church and Shatterproof.
Q: How did you begin at Shatterproof?
A: I began almost five years ago. I saw a posting for a local addiction nonprofit and I was really passionate about the subject matter. I met with Gary Mendell, the founder, and he told me about plans to expand nationally.
To learn more about Shatterproof, visit shatterproof.org
To learn more about Celebrate Recovery at Noroton Presbyterian Church, visit http://bit.ly/2JSIdK0
Once I heard his vision I realized this was the real deal. It’s been an incredible opportunity for me to be there. My job has changed from writing blogs to writing social media and coordinating the communication and managing (Mendell’s) schedule.
Q: Your family has roots in Darien?
A: My grandmother and grandfather raised my dad there. My mom is from Bridgeport and (my parents) have been married for 50 years and they’ve lived in Darien this whole time. I never thought I’d come back to Darien. I came back after living in various cities.
I have really grown to love being back in my hometown. This is where I belong, and I remember originally first coming back being single and not having kids and wondering if this wasn’t the place for me, but I feel like I belong here and I have such a wonderful group of friends and a church community.
I’ve become really involved with the communitym and to experience it as an adult and as someone who can give back.
Q: How did you get involved with Noroton Presbyterian?
A: I grew up in this church and was very active as a kid in Young Life and youth groups. I went on mission trips and Bible study. I’ve always been really involved in this church. I just finished a three-year term as a deacon.
I helped launch the leadership team for Celebrate Recovery, which is a Christ-centered recovery program not just for drugs or alcohol, but for anyone who has any habit or something that is blocking them from God. We meet Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. and break up into small women and men groups. We launched in the fall and are starting to get more people, not just from Darien.
A: How was your experience?
A: It started off in high school. I think back when I was growing up there was ‘just say no,’ but nobody explained about the ramifications of binge drinking and the importance of age of first use and getting kids to not start when their brain is developing.
It wasn’t really a conversation, and I talk to a lot of my friends’ children and urge them to not experiment and think about the consequences.
Q: How were you helped?
A: I was very much helped by this church, by Rev. Brandi Drake; she has been instrumental in my recovery. I have a very strong recovery community of like-minded people and people at this church. I do 6:15 a.m. Bible study sessions on Tuesday mornings and I have women in that circle, and that’s been a big gift to me.
I’m very open and I share that story and I feel that I’m in a position I can do that. I can only see the positive in being open and honest about that.
Q: What made you want to participate in these programs?
A: I got sober almost seven years ago and I feel very strongly about helping to end the stigma and feel strongly about being open and honest because I know I can help a lot of people. I don't see the shame in it.
I know that my life is really amazing today and I’ve had so much support in this community and in this church and I want to give back. Being at Shatterproof, I’ve been able to give back to families who are struggling and share my experience.