Monique Evans is the Clinical Supervisor at Awakenings Recovery Center in Hagerstown, MD. Originally from Nyack, New York, Evans went to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. There, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Special Education. From 1983 to 1987, Evans worked as a teacher, until she became addicted to cocaine. She spent most of the next decade in the Harlem, New York.
“Back in the late eighties I got introduced to freebasing cocaine, and from there it became crack on the street corners,” she said. “I spent eight years living in and out of homelessness, by choice, and got into trouble with some felony charges.”
When Evan’s mother and oldest son moved to Woodlawn in 1994, she settled in Hagerstown, and became involved in the local recovery community. Evans has been sober since August 23,1995.
After entering recovery, Evans continued her education. She took courses in human services with an emphasis on addictions, becoming a Certified Addictions Counselor. In addition to working for the Washington County Health Department for 14 years, Evans has been a clinical supervisor for the past seven.
In recent years, Hagerstown has become embroiled in the opioid epidemic that has taken hold of many communities across the country. But according to Evans, it wasn’t always that way.
While still employed at the Phoenix Health Center, Evans remembers seeing articles in the Baltimore Sun calling Route 70 the “Heroin Highway.” Although she’s been sober for years, the epidemic has touched Evans personally.
“A really good friend of mine who gave me my shot at the health department,” she said, “her daughter died in her mother’s home. Her daughter was 25.”
Evans believes that the care she and her colleagues at Awakenings provide is different, because it is spiritual in nature. She has adopted the saying, “Welcome to Awakenings: where we awaken the mind and the spirit.”
“The spirituality in this building is due to the players on the team,” she said. “Almost all of us are in recovery and work a program. Collectively that brings a spirit here that I haven’t seen anywhere else.”
For Evans, the most rewarding part of her job is what she calls “hummingbird moments.” The term comes from the first time in her life that she saw a hummingbird, while she was in recovery. Its beauty was a life-changing inspiration. She sees hummingbird moments in her clients daily, when the light bulb turns on, and they accept the path to recovery,
“When I see the hummingbird moments with the clients, it makes it all worth it,” she said. “I love what we do here. This place is spiritual, what we do is spiritual in nature.”