Katelyn Root is a third year student and Student Leader with the Center for Community Engagement at Eastern Connecticut State University. She has had an integral role in developing a volunteer program with the Windham Recovery Community Center, a branch of the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR). She has developed job readiness trainings, lead group sessions and recruited more than 60 students to volunteer at the community center over the past two years. Katelyn has been a vocal advocate for the recovery community and has created a welcoming and understanding corps of volunteers who support the staff and guests. She has worked effectively to reduce the stigma associated with addiction and to support individuals in recovery. Katelyn incorporates job skills training, resume building, interview preparation and more into workshops that are accessible and tailored to the needs of the guests. She has also created a safe space for guests and student volunteers to share their experiences and to learn from each other. Katelyn received the "Volunteer of the Year" award from CCAR in 2018 and the "Strengthening Communities" award at the Eastern Connecticut State University Service Expo in 2017.
Volunteering in the Willimantic community has changed me entirely, and without these experiences I would not be the person I am today. Working at the recovery center (CCAR) has allowed me to impact the lives of many adults facing recovery from drugs, alcohol, and other addictions. I have had an overwhelming number of guests approach me with news of interviews, second interviews, and job offers after my sessions. In addition to providing guests with resume and job search assistance, I regularly chair recovery meetings and provide telephone recovery support to guests attending the other centers. Chairing meetings has given me the opportunity to share my own life experiences, which gives the community an opportunity to not only relate to me, but to take my words to help them enhance their recovery. I have learned that speaking about my experiences has helped others in ways I didn't even think were possible. When I am not volunteering through the Center of Community Engagement at Eastern, I am often found at the recovery center or the homeless shelter, spending my time laughing, talking, and helping the community.