Staff Announcements, Stories

A Personable and Passionate Peer

Vinfen is pleased to announce that Adult Community Clinical Services (ACCS) Lead Peer Specialist Jill Jankowski is the 2019 recipient of Vinfen’s Peer Leadership Award! This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a Vinfen staff person who has lived experience of a mental health condition and has made significant contributions to the company and Peer movement. Jill has quite the story to share and hopes to inspire others.

Jill began her career in digital marketing. After six years in the field, she decided she needed to dive deeper into understanding what she needed out of a profession that was in tune with her wellness and recovery. Jill started to consider what her heart had always yearned for. Through utilizing her social media outlets and writing blog posts, Jill created a way to express herself and communicate her thoughts and ideas with others. Soon after, Jill began receiving messages from colleagues, childhood friends, and even relatives on how meaningful her sharing was to her community. For Jill, having the ability to be her full self while helping others was the best feeling. With the determination to find a job where she could continue to tell her story, Jill found her Vinfen.

Fast forward four years later, Jill couldn’t be happier with being the 2019 Peer Leadership Award recipient. “It’s quite an honor and a privilege to receive this award, and it’s an award that holds the most significance to me out of any of my accolades in life,” she explained. “Vinfen is so unique that we can craft our roles to retain the mission of the work while remaining true and authentic to our own style, and that has been the real magic for me to be able to perform to my best ability,” Jill added.

Jill’s colleagues couldn’t agree more with how deserving she is of this award. “Jill is a tireless advocate for people we serve. I always value Jill’s input and ability to think outside of the box. Her person-centered philosophy and ability to maximize people’s capabilities in every situation is consistently inspiring. She is always willing to help whenever possible and always puts her best self forward. We are lucky to have Jill on our team. I am always learning from her and value her input. She is an all-around great human and tremendous leader,” shared Licensed Practitioner of the Healing Arts (LPHA) Clinician Ainslie Wallace. ACCS Addiction Recovery Counselor Laura Giannelli added, “Jill has an uncanny ability to connect with others and has an enormous amount of empathy and compassion for everyone she encounters.” ACCS LPHA Clinician Erica Sarro voiced, “Jill is honest, hardworking, caring, and strong.”

Being a Peer is extremely meaningful to Jill. The beauty of the role is that one must reach within themselves and utilize their personal experiences with mental health in order to convey empathy and be a source of knowledge and advocacy for people. “My skill-set does not come solely from a training manual, and my experiences are not universal. In a world where mental health and the duress of work/life balance is an epidemic, it’s a comfort and a privilege knowing my professional and personal identities hold hands and share space where the value resides in the reciprocity,” Jill commented.

One of Jill’s fondest memories at Vinfen thus far was her ability to work with someone and watch them establish their own wellness and passion to enter the Peer Specialist field. “What’s even more special is that she taught me so much along the way about myself too! To watch my recovery journey come full circle, to pass along what I’ve learned to another person who will carry on the mission alongside me, is priceless,” Jill explained.

Jill is a huge advocate for the Peer movement and enjoys spending time learning how to further the movement in the state of Massachusetts. Along with other Peers, Jill has attended listening sessions to provide feedback to Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) on the anticipation of improvements in statewide certification and how Peers can have a broader impact within the healthcare system. “I am very proud of Vinfen’s participation as an organization to invest in evolving the Peer role and its capabilities, and I am looking forward to being present for any future initiatives we see this year on a state level,” Jill noted. “I am grateful to Adam, our Director of Recovery Services, for always inviting me to attend such initiatives and be an active representative for Vinfen and our Peer community.”

With such a positive presence and demeanor, Jill is without a doubt deserving of this award. She believes in taking the time to get to know people and being a constant source of joy, support, and encouragement in their lives. “Investing in a personal connection, the power of communication, and learning from what someone else has been through is the strongest component we can have in growing into our best selves,” Jill shared. Jill believes that Vinfen staff strive each and every day to help people see their worth; a worth that blossoms from supports catered to each person that help a person’s light shine through even on the dreariest and darkest days. “We are all valuable, and we can all contribute to something bigger and better out there,” Jill concluded.

Please join everyone at Vinfen in congratulating Jill on her incredible achievements.

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