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Campbell's honors Community Champion John Reagan

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Campbell's® Chunky® is recognizing and celebrating everyday champions in our lives and communities for their tremendous work through the challenging times of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. Today's spotlight is on John Reagan, a true Community Champion.

For the past two years, Reagan has directed the Recovery Community Center at Eva's Village, where community members are offered access to substance use disorder treatment and holistic support. As a person in long-term recovery himself, Reagan's greatest passion is bringing hope to the hopeless and healing to those who are suffering and need help putting their lives back together. It is this desire to help others that makes Reagan the ideal person to run Eva's Village's Recovery Community Center.

Reagan and his staff offer community members a variety of services and support. The Center offers individualized recovery coaching, referrals to social and mental health services, and telephone outreach and support. In addition, the Center offers recovery-oriented educational programs and workshops, including health and wellness classes, internet access, job readiness, computer and GED classes, life skills training, spirituality and social events and recreational activities.

To show appreciation, Giants offensive lineman Chad Slade thanked Reagan for all of his efforts at Eva's Village and the Recovery Community Center on a recent video conference call.

"We're happy to honor you, John, as a Campbell's Chunky Community Champion for all of your hard work and dedication to Eva's Village and to the people who work with you to find the best path for recovery," said Slade. "The Champions of the Chunky is about recognizing and celebrating everyday champions in our lives and our communities. These people have devoted time and effort to supporting their communities in extraordinary ways. We will be making a contribution in your name, of course, to Eva's Village, and you will be receiving some Campbell's gear and some Giants gear."

At the start of the pandemic, Eva's Village opened an infirmary for COVID-positive clients who had nowhere else to isolate from others. Reagan, who regularly volunteered overnight to monitor clients, got to know many of them. A homeless gentleman from Eva's Men's Shelter with mental health issues had to be transferred from the infirmary to the hospital. When he was discharged without a place to stay, Reagan took to the streets to find him and bring him back to the infirmary, where he was able to recover. This is just one example of Reagan going the extra mile in order to help those in need, especially during the past year.

"First of all, it's always a team effort," Reagan said on the video conference call. "I'm the Senior Peer Coordinator, which is a fancy word for director. But I do have a team behind me that puts 100 percent in every day. Right now, we do four meetings a day. We take temperatures, keep social distances with masks. We actually have people who come in off the street looking to detox or need some kind of mental health services. We really take care of the people in Paterson. To me, it's an honor for the award. I can't thank you enough."

"We know these last few months have been hard. Through it all, you've always been there for your team," Slade added. "Please know that you have inspired all of us and your efforts do not go unnoticed at all. I just wanted to let you know that. I wanted to thank you."

Reagan's willingness to go above and beyond for those in need comes from the bottom of his heart. As his colleagues described on the video call, he never asks for any sort of recognition. Reagan genuinely wants to help people, making them feel supported and loved. He is the epitome of a team player - a kind, generous, genuine person who just wants to help those around him.

"I'm doing work that I was meant to do," Reagan said. "Long story short, 15 years ago I was homeless for six weeks. I struggled with alcohol -I had an addiction to alcohol. My passion is for people because I understand. I've been down in that hole. You really feel hopeless. What we do, not only at the Recovery Community Center but at Eva's Village, is offer hope to people. When you walk into our Center, I say it all the time, that your life is going to get better. We don't stop until you get somewhere. If you're homeless and walk through that door, we're going to find somewhere for you. We're going to find you treatment somewhere…"

Reagan attended Middlesex County College, where he studied psychology, addiction and business management. He is a Certified Opioid Overdose Recovery Program Recovery Specialist (OORP) and he received his Certified Recovery Specialist training at the Connecticut Community for Addiction Treatment (CCAR).

As Reagan noted, there are many roads to recovery and not every approach is right for everyone, which is why he is trained in several programs: the 12 steps to Recovery; Smart Recovery; All Recovery, and Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs.

"Hearing your story is very inspiring to us all," Slade told Reagan, "I just want to appreciate the time you took out of your day to talk to us and let me hear your story. I really appreciate you and everything that you've done."

Reagan's enthusiasm for helping those in need is truly inspiring. His hard work and dedication to Eva's Village and the Recovery Community Center has gone a long way in helping the Paterson community over the last few years, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If you really make up your mind, change is possible," Reagan said to close the call. "It's just taking that first step, and that's what we help people with at Eva's Recovery Community Center."

Reagan has truly showed us what it means to be a Community Champion.

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