PECKHAM IN ACTION

Virginia Besant has a penchant for quality and a commitment to helping others navigate the difficult path of substance abuse recovery.

After completing college, Virginia developed a dependence on painkillers that led to a more prevalent substance use disorder. She says she spent years “not doing anything productive,” ultimately spending time in jail and a rehabilitation center. While in rehab, Virginia began tackling the hard work of addressing her trauma and the reasons behind her addiction. She took steps to avoid the toxic environments that contributed to her substance abuse and connected with RISE Recovery Community.

It was at RISE that Virginia heard about a job opening for a Quality Inspector at Peckham. A self-professed perfectionist, Virginia thought this position might be a great fit. While she turned out to be correct, it took time and an attitude adjustment for Virginia to attach to the culture of work. Her years of substance use left her with little motivation to come to work. She said that sometimes she would call in sick just because she didn’t feel like working.

With the support and encouragement of her coworkers and Vocational Services Supervisors she made the necessary adjustments. As she explained, “these people, forming these relationships and friendships, was just so, so valuable. And it changed my life.”

Virginia worked hard with her trainer (now her best friend) and began to truly excel at her job. “Peckham helped me thrive by helping me eliminate certain barriers. Some of those barriers were just myself, not believing in myself or not thinking that I could do it.”

She moved beyond her entry level position to eventually work on Peckham’s most technically complex garments, a position that is reserved for Peckham’s most skilled and dedicated Inspectors. “The more difficult lines, the more challenges I got, and I noticed that having a challenge feeds my soul,” Virginia said. “It makes me want to work even more, it makes me want to work even harder.”

Even as she continued to advance at Peckham, Virginia was developing a strong desire to help other people, especially other recovering addicts. Though she loved her job at Peckham, Virginia made the decision to move on to work for Mid-Michigan Recovery Services as a Residential Technician. She plans to someday become a Peer Recovery Coach.

“It’s an epidemic – and (for) a lot of people, the hardest thing is to ask for help, or to move forward,” Virginia explained. “If I can share my story with one person and help them or give them the encouragement to seek help, then it’s worthwhile, then my job is done."