Barry Henson was at the pinnacle of his 30-year career in television engineering and was considering an offer for a capstone position when his heart told him it was time for a different path.
Years earlier, he and his wife, Sonia, had overcome addiction through faith-based recovery, which changed the course of their lives. As they watched the pandemic exacerbate the rise of drug and alcohol dependency, they felt called to help.
Answering the Call to Serve the Least
Barry left his carefully constructed career to launch a nonprofit with the mission of bringing sustainable, faith-based recovery from substance abuse and the underlying mental health conditions to those in need. “We believe that anyone can recover from drug and alcohol addiction, and we help people no matter their financial situation. We are often the last house on the block. People come to us when they have no other option,” explains Henson, Cofounder and Executive Director of Recovery Foundations in Lawrenceville.
They began reaching people in need by delivering food from the trunk of their car and holding 12-step meetings in their living room. In a few short years, their organization has grown into a 70-bed residential service with a six-month recovery program and a vibrant community center.
“We have grown faster than we envisioned,” says Henson. Recovery Foundations now partners with 12 Stone Church to extend recovery programs and employs a full-time staff of 15, all of whom have recovered from substance abuse, equipping them with the experience and empathy to effectively guide clients through recovery.
Chamber Connections Accelerate Success
The Gwinnett Chamber and the Chairman’s Club have played a pivotal role in Henson’s ability to serve his clients. In his corporate career, he observed how long it took to build the relationships needed to successfully negotiate contracts and put together effective teams. Through the Chairman’s Club, he found the fast track he needed. “In a short amount of time, I’ve been able to establish relationships that have been very beneficial to our organization and clients. I’ve met amazing leaders in the nonprofit space, learned from them and been able to collaborate on some of the struggles we face as nonprofits,” he says.
He has also formed relationships with business leaders who have opened the door to employment for his clients, a critical component of full recovery.
“In the Chamber, I’ve been amazed to find community partners with a heart to serve who aren’t sure where they can make a difference,” he says. “We rely heavily on partnerships for jobs for our clients, monetary donations, opportunities to educate others on recovery and more. This is a very well-run Chamber with influential members. The benefit comes from participating in the events and developing relationships.”
Recovery Foundations graduates about 75 individuals a year and welcomes 1,700 people at monthly meetings for ongoing support. During what Henson calls the “fourth quarter” of his career, those numbers show that he and Sonia made the right change at the right time. “At first I didn’t see how my background in engineering with an MBA would fit in the nonprofit space. But every day, I now see that God has equipped me well for the service we’re doing.”