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Spotlight Series – Penny McLeod

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Penny McLeod – Program Operations Coordinator, Gate Lodge at Origins


Penny serves as a liaison between clients and providers, meeting the ongoing needs of both groups while maintaining confidentiality. As the first person clients usually see upon admission, Penny shares her firsthand knowledge of the facility program’s rules and expectations while building a rapport. She also works closely with the program director to facilitate day-to-day operations, policies and procedures. She oversees and acts as the staffing point person for the recovery advocates, ensures quality care, upholds the integrity of the therapeutic alliance between the program and the client, and maintains the safety of the clients and the security of the facility.



What brought you to Origins? 


I came to Gate Lodge in May 2010 as the result of a friend in the 12-Step community. It was a time in my life when I was looking to expand in the recovery community since waiting tables was no longer rewarding. As a recovered drug addict and alcoholic, I thought I might be able to offer some much-needed help to those still suffering.  I was hopeless for so many years. Being able to offer even a glimmer of hope to someone else is still the highlight of my recovery journey.


If there were only one thing you could tell us about working within your client specialty area, what would it be? 


Working with clients in the residential level IV area, I get to witness people who have been in and out of jail and treatment facilities. Many have experienced chronic relapses. They have often lost their sense of self-worth and are full of shame and guilt. Often times they find a higher power, get connected to community, reunite with their families, and get the light back in their eyes as they begin to live again.


What have you learned through your experience working in treatment? 


I started in working in the kitchen part time, which was great for me as I still lacked the confidence needed to be on the front line. Hanley Center saw something in me, and after a year’s time, I began working in many areas including maintenance, housekeeping, recovery advocacy, and admissions until I landed in my current position as the Program Operations Coordinator. Through all of this, I have learned to love the client before they can love themselves. It is my job to plant a seed and allow them the opportunity to water that seed.


Do you hold any credentials or certifications, or do you participate in any other professional activities outside of work?  


I am very active in my local church. I’ve been involved in jail ministry bringing a message of hope to females who are incarcerated.


Are you in recovery yourself? If so, what do you love most about being in recovery?


I have eight years of continuous sobriety. I really enjoy spreading the message of hope. I also love the fact that my daughter allows my grandchildren in my home and knows that they are going to be taken care of because today I have the trust of my family members. I am now a productive citizen, and I am dependable. I was able to be there for my grandmother before she passed away, and I owe it all to my recovery and God.


What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Do you have any pets or engage in special hobbies?  


I love the river, and I go there as often as possible. I frequently kayak, fish, swim and boat with friends. I am avid dog lover and have rescued six Chihuahuas. I love rescuing and finding homes for dogs. My main hobby is laughter because I believe it’s the best medicine.


Is there anything else you might like to share?


I am forever grateful to Origins for taking a chance on this recovered addict. I am thankful that today I am teachable; I have the ability to look myself in the mirror and like what I see. I have integrity and dignity. I have found freedom.



For more information regarding the many programs of Origins Behavioral HealthCare where Penny McLeod works, please visit: