Peer support specialists use their personal experience to share messages of hope with others in recovery. Their unique perspective and lived expertise allow them to offer authentic, person-centered care to those they support. Peer support specialists promote individual and family strengths, support wellness activities and encourage self-advocacy among members and caregivers. In this way, they not only model recovery for individuals, but also work to breakdown behavioral health stigma within whole communities.
Peer support specialists make a significant impact on the lives of the people they serve, but not all peer support specialists do so with the steadiness and gentle compassion of Vaya Peer Trainer Sam Sutker. That is why he was nominated for this year’s NC HOPE Impact Award. This award recognizes peer support specialists who have made an impact in the lives of others, who go above and beyond to help their peers reach their goals and who model and maintain professional boundaries.
“As a Peer Trainer since 2015, Sam has shared his story of hope and resilience with more than 800 peers on their journeys to becoming certified peer support specialists,” explained Member Relations Director Stacy Sorrells, who nominated him for this award. “Through his role modeling and gentle encouragement, Sam has helped them develop their listening skills, maintain an open heart and meet those they serve with dignity and respect. The impact that Sam has had on these individuals is immeasurable, and those positive effects have rippled throughout our local communities.”
In addition to sharing his gifts with those who are in training to become peer support specialists, he provides one-on-one peer support to others in recovery. Sorrells shared, “Sam often works with individuals who need extensive support over many months or even years. His ability to provide consistent, person-centered support and his dedication to fostering these ongoing relationships are remarkable.” And, she added, “He does all of this while demonstrating a unique ability to remain empathic while maintaining firm and clear boundaries that enable him to do this work without negatively affecting his own wellness.”
According to Sorrells, “It was the collective wish of all of his colleagues to honor Sam for his incredible contributions to peer support.”
Thank you, Sam, for inspiring others on the journey toward recovery and for sharing your passion and dedication with each of us here at Vaya.