Local woman named Recovery Coach of the Year


Kimberly Buck is as selfless as they come.

When the HIV outbreak hit Scott County and also impacted Jackson and Washington counties in 2015, she stepped up as the HIV care coordinator for the Indiana State Department of Health to help combat the epidemic.

When she was asked to gather information on the opioid problem in Jackson County, she conducted community conversations and learned about available resources and then compiled it all into a report.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

When she began working with Overdose Lifeline to distribute the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan locally, she hosted events to educate people on its use.

When she received an opportunity to go into the Jackson County Jail to lead a re-entry program, she helped inmates so they wouldn’t wind up behind bars again.

The 45-year-old Freetown woman has done all of this work and continues to do so because she went through her own struggle. In the early 1990s, Buck said she used crack cocaine for about three years on a daily basis.

Plus, her son, Devon Buck, began using drugs and pills at a young age and has overdosed multiple times. Now 28, he is serving time at a prison in Plainfield but is part of a recovery program.

Her and her son’s struggles motivate her to do what she can to help others.

“Most in society do not want to face the reality. They don’t want to see it, hear it, believe it,” Buck said. “That’s what also fuels me to continue doing what I am doing — what we all should be doing as a community.”

Mental Health America of Indiana recognized what she is doing.

Earlier this year, she learned she was nominated for the Recovery Coach of the Year award. She later received an email saying she was selected as the winner.

She was among those honored Dec. 10 during the Mental Health and Addiction Symposium and Heroes for Recovery Luncheon that was conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She recently received her crystal award in the mail.

The annual recognition program celebrates the dedication and commitment of those who promote recovery of individuals in their ongoing treatment of serious and persistent mental illness and addictive disorders.

Award winners are chosen by a committee made up of Mental Health America of Indiana’s partner organizations.

Buck said she was nominated by Antonia Sawyer, founder of the Indiana-based ShipHappens initiative that provides access to free training in overdose recognition and response utilizing naloxone and then provides the free kits to any resident in need.

When they first met at a conference in October 2018, Buck was a United Against Opioids AmeriCorps member for Jackson County United Way.

“I had no idea I was meeting a truly inspirational and selfless individual,” Sawyer said. “She was fighting for the lifesaving medication naloxone to be available within her community and wanted all individuals struggling with opioid use disorder to have a second, third, fourth, 10th chance at recovery, believing that all lives are worth saving.”

Buck then transitioned to a new role with Centerstone, where she found a further passion to serve those seeking recovery and became a certified recovery coach.

“I will never forget the day she called me and said, ‘I did it. I finished my recovery coach training and took the test,’” Sawyer said. “The pure joy and passion in her voice gave me chills.”

Once certified, Buck began to meet people right where they were at, never coercing and always caring, Sawyer said.

“Kimberly also took it upon herself to create a support group for those post-incarceration,” Sawyer said. “Understanding the risk factors associated with post-incarcerated individuals and substance use disorders, Kim dedicated her time to creating Beyond the Pod, an online recovery group that affords individuals much-needed connection as they maneuver the new world post-incarceration.”

All of her work made her the perfect nominee and winner of Recovery Coach of the Year, Sawyer said.

“Kimberly radiates love and becomes family to those she comes in contact with,” she said.

The honor means a lot to Buck.

“To have this for the entire state, I’m really, really honored and surprised,” she said, noting the award is “a symbol to keep going” with her work for others.

Buck earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice from Indiana State University in 2016.

The next year, she started her position with AmeriCorps, gathering information to create a landscape scan of Jackson County to show what leaders and residents want to see happen with the opioid crisis.

Along with conversations with the community, she met with clergy, law enforcement and female inmates to discuss the issue.

She also created an asset map to let residents know what resources are available for those struggling with addiction.

She then compiled everything into a findings report, which was notched down from 28 pages to about 12.

“It was really, really hard for me because I had to stay neutral and I had to just take the information that I was given and write a report,” she said. “It’s something I’m very passionate about, so that was hard for me.”

After 10 months with AmeriCorps, Buck spent a year with Centerstone’s Mobile Opioid Crisis Response Team.

“When someone had overdosed, I would either go into the intensive care unit if they were admitted; if they were in jail, I would follow up with them when they were released; or if they were at home, I would go to their home if they wanted treatment,” she said. “If they wanted resources, anything at all, I would help them and their families.”

Buck said those battling addiction often are viewed negatively by society, and they feel ashamed.

“They’ve been told all their lives they are a junkie, they are worthless, they are all of these things, so then they start to believe that about themselves and they are helpless, their family has given up on them,” she said. “When they go to jail, most of them don’t have any support when they get out. They go back to what they know where they can have shelter, and it’s usually people using. Then you have the generational use.”

Buck then learned about a re-entry program starting at the Jackson County Jail after Centerstone received federal funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh! I am totally jumping ship. I’m applying for this job,’” she said. “I applied and got the position, and I was facilitating three days a week inside the jail prior to COVID.”

Since the funding ended in September 2020, Buck has worked as a peer recovery coach at Foundations Family Medicine in Austin. She also is a linkage to care specialist with HIV positive patients.

“I had worked there voluntarily after the HIV outbreak,” she said. “I did some community outreach and went onto the mobile van and tried to get people tested and things like that, so I already had a good rapport with Dr. (William) Cooke and already had a good rapport with some of the people that worked there.”

She also is in her second year serving on the Jackson County Drug-Free Council board and chairs its Treatment Action Team, and she is pursuing her master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice from ISU.

“Ultimately, I would love to be working with inmates full time,” Buck said. “I want to create and design a re-entry program. I would love to do it here in Jackson County.”

The goal is to lower the recidivism rate because it’s a revolving door with substance use and all of the other stuff that goes along with it, Buck said.

“You don’t know what they need if you’re not working with them on the inside,” she said. “You don’t know what their struggles are, you don’t know what their barriers are, you don’t know what they need, and everybody is different, so if you can work on that while they are in there, they have a better success rate when they get out. They are going to have a plan in place when they get out, and it just makes sense.”

Buck also completed Community Reinforcement and Family Training through Overdose Lifeline and currently is working on gathering 10 people who are family members of someone with substance use disorder to participate. They will receive workbooks, worksheets and manuals in the mail and take the training via Zoom.

If that isn’t enough, Buck is in her fifth year distributing naloxone, including the past three with Overdose Lifeline.

She’s passionate about that because she had to administer it on her own son in 2016.

“He was seven years IV heroin use before he went into treatment,” she said. “He was on medication and was doing well, and then he lost his insurance and met a gal and started shooting up and committing some crimes, and now, he is in prison, and the earliest he can get out is 2024.”

Buck said she talks to her son by phone once a week and is happy to report he was chosen to do peer recovery coach training. He wants to help people when he gets out of prison.

“He’s my fire. He ignites me, too, sometimes,” Buck said, smiling. “He’s always in the back of my mind. He’s what keeps me going.”

In all of her work, Buck said it’s about making a connection and showing others they are cared for and loved.

Her fiancé, Derek Glaze, admires what she does for others.

“A lot of people take advantage of this for grant money, etc., just for their own personal gain,” he said. “She’s totally passionate. There are no ulterior motives. I think that’s important. She’s 100% genuine, and what you see is what you get.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

For Narcan/naloxone or to participate in the Community Reinforcement and Family Training, call or text Kimberly Buck at 812-569-4676.

[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”On the Web” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

For information about the Mental Health and Addiction Symposium and Heroes for Recovery Luncheon and to read about the 2020 award winners, visit mhai.swoogo.com/symposium.


No posts to display