Three and a half years ago, a police officer looked around at the community before her. She saw her neighbors struggling with substance use, mental health disorders, and she saw organizations hustling to keep up with the needs. She saw the community members extending support, leaned over to her partner, and said, “I’m going to be in that field. We need more of that.” After leaving a 15-year career in law enforcement, Lizbeth Martinez joined in, extending support to the recovery community in the Springfield/Holyoke area as an ATR Care Coordinator through the Institute of Health and Recovery (IHR).
ATR Care Coordinators play an important role in an ATR participant’s journey through the program. While they complete administrative tasks like intake assessments, referral submissions, fund distribution, and more, they also act as an ATR participant’s cheerleader. They help participants set goals, remove barriers, provide resources, and celebrate their success. “They know that they have somebody to talk to if they need it. We’re here for them,” Liz shared. She does all of this, and she remains authentic, present, and invested in each of her participants. “I’ve seen Liz approach every challenge with a sense of resolve and optimism,” said ATR Care Coordinator Supervisor, Cordero Crenshaw, “She stays the course and is always focused on the goal.”
Liz’s day-to-day consists of working with new ATR participants, checking in with current ATR participants, or delivering work study benefit checks. “Liz has a great ability to connect with the participants. She can meet them where they are at in their recovery journey and finds what motivates the individual to help reach their goals,” said Cordero. Every ATR participant is different. They each have different life, career, and recovery goals. On days where a participant completes a training program or finishes their six months in ATR, Liz celebrates alongside them. When her participants credit her for their success, she reminds them, “No. It wasn’t me. You guys did it, you did it all on your own…You guys are getting up in the morning, showing up to class, keeping up with the process, not me. This is all you.” While our ATR participants are incredible and resilient, we would not be able to support thousands of individuals each year without Care Coordinators like Liz.
The road of recovery comes with a number of challenges; the route changes or there are bumps along the way. We are grateful for partners like IHR and Care Coordinators like Liz who advocate and celebrate ATR participants through the process. “We all go through challenges in life, so I always let them know to keep their heads up. One day at a time,” she said, “Tomorrow, we don’t know what’s in the olla (cooking pot). One day at a time.”
Thank you, Lizbeth, for your time, effort, and dedication to ATR participants who need the encouragement and positivity that you provide.