Newgate 180 has recruited its staff from across Canada to provide its clients with one of the most experienced and highly effective addiction teams in North America.
Peter Kunst, CCAC
A co-founder of Newgate 180, Peter’s extensive experience and background in program development has been molded over more than 28 years in residential treatment of addictions. A graduate of Algonquin College’s Substance Abuse Counselling Program, Peter has developed and implemented many successful multi-module programs designed to meet the specific needs of individual clients. Peter played a lead role at the James Street Recovery Program where he developed the Relapse Prevention process with Continuing Care components. He has also worked with the Rideauwood Institute in Ottawa in their Parent and teen program.
Bringing awareness and transparency to addiction in the workplace has been a passionate quest for Peter as he created, delivered, and implemented addiction education and training programs both publicly and corporately.
Peter has demonstrated throughout his long-tenured career an unwavering commitment to finding addiction solutions. His respectful and compassionate approach to treatment, which sits as the foundation for the Newgate 180 mission, is the result of Peter’s highly intuitive and nurturing nature.
Case Manager/Continuing Care
“Over the years here at Newgate 180, I have been able to turn the passion developed through a volunteer position into a highly rewarding career. It is both an honour and privilege to be trusted enough by clients to share their stories, fears, pain and hopes, dreams and plans with us. Our work with the family and workplace of a client enable us to really know a person – each of whom is unique and of infinite value. Being able to walk alongside a person as they gradually regain a sense of empowerment, self-worth, self-respect and self-confidence is second to none.”
“Continuing care with Newgate 180 facilitates and nurtures a client’s gradual return to the person they choose to be, and life he or she wants to live – one of health in body, mind and spirit. As this part of the program is my main focus, I am able to develop long lasting relationships with our clients, lasting years. I have many clients that, years later, will contact me for some support if needed, or with the latest news of their lives. This is what drives my dedication to people who need a hand up, an encouraging word and some guidance on the journey of recovery.”
Dale brings to Newgate an extensive background in personal and family-of-origin addiction, together with many years of volunteer work with youth and with formerly incarcerated men in recovery and working to re-enter the general population. Dale is an Honours Graduate from the Addictions and Community Service Worker Program at Everest College, as well as a Certified Canadian Addiction Counsellor. Dale continues to work a few shifts per month at a local distress centre, and plans to pursue a degree in psychology via distance learning.
Brenda Gray, RP, CPGC
“I am grateful to become a part of the Newgate 180 team and to integrate my 30+ years of experience working in social services. My role as an addictions counsellor at Newgate 180 allows me to continue working in an environment that values a holistic, client centred approach. The caring, compassionate staff at Newgate 180 focus on wellness and supporting clients in achieving and maintaining the goals that they have set for themselves.I look forward to consistently honouring the clients strengths while supporting them in their journey of recovery”
Brenda has been in the addictions field for over 15 years. She is a Registered Psychotherapist who has completed the Addiction Prevention and Treatment Worker Certificate and the Canadian Problem Gambling Certification. Along with her passion for helping others, Brenda enjoys exploring the outdoors, practicing yoga, and spending time with family and friends.
“I think yoga is an important part of Newgate’s multi faceted approach to addiction recovery, and its commitment to supporting clients as they return home. Much more than physical exercise, yoga can provide valuable guidelines and strategies for relaxation, stress relief and self-care.
I feel privileged to work with Newgate clients. Each yoga class is a new and different experience. Clients exhibit courage, determination and humour. Yoga embraces each unique experience as clients learn to be accepting of the new sensations and emotions. This can lead to an expanding sense of self awareness, and self-acceptance.
The challenges and rewards of teaching yoga to such a population inspires me to continue developing my skills, and exploring the connections between stress, trauma and addiction. Recent workshops I have attended include Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma with Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk, and The Neuroscience of Buddhism and Yoga with Dr. Jim Hopper. I am currently completing a 10 month course in Positive Psychology. Each class I teach renews my own conviction that yoga can provide tools to support clients’ sobriety and reaffirms my dedication to yoga.
“There are clients I have worked with who suffered very traumatic childhood events and abusive situations. One client in particular was determined to turn his life around and stop the cycle of abuse that happened in his family. His addiction to alcohol greatly affected his life and led to his decision to come to Newgate 180 for treatment. He has a wife and children whom he did not want to lose and he worked very hard while at Newgate to do the work he needed to maintain recovery.”
According to Pryor, the client stayed true to his values as a devoted father and husband and didn’t let his alcoholism escalate to the point of any physical or verbal abuse in his home. This meant he was able to get control of his addiction and the accompanying anger and frustration.
“This client had the courage to follow through with his goals in recovery and be honest when facing the demons from his past. This allowed him to get to the root of his problems and rediscover his values.
Pryor says she likes the Newgate 180 approach because it’s very well structured and holistic, while considering each client’s individual circumstances and adjusting their program as needed, to meet their specific needs.
“It’s also a very comfortable and homey environment, without an institutional feel to it.”
Shannon Woolner, MEd
“I am a Case Manager and I feel very fortunate to be a part of the Newgate team. The team is made up of knowledgeable, competent and caring professionals who do their utmost to meet the needs of each and every client. I appreciate the fact that the program at Newgate considers clients from a holistic perspective and addresses the multi-faceted nature of addiction – the biological, psychological, emotional, social and cultural factors that come into play. I have a Master of Education (Counselling Program) from the University of Calgary and have worked for many years in the field of addiction. I find it to be very rewarding work, as I am continually amazed and inspired by the resilience and courage the clients demonstrate day after day.”
Ilona Miller, NP-PHC
Ilona is a licensed Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner who graduated from Athabasca University NP Master program in 2016. Ilona has over 10 years of nursing experience working in hospital settings in neurology, neurosurgery, general surgery and briefly at the emergency department. During her clinical practice, she was privileged to assist patients with symptoms of alcohol and opioids withdrawal.
“During my NP clinical practicum experience, I was fortunate to work with and learn from Canada’s most vulnerable and stigmatized populations: Aboriginal, GLBT, homeless, the elderly and people with substance abuse issues. My approach to addiction issues, as a health professional, is similar to any other serious chronic medical condition such as diabetes, COPD or depression. Addiction is a very complex phenomenon and involves biological, physical, psychological and psychosocial aspects. I joined Newgate 180 because I support their holistic approach to health and healing, which involves the whole person and not just his/her addiction”.
Ilona’s primary role at NewGate 180 is to perform an initial screening for all new patients who enter treatment, as well as consultation and treatment of any concurrent medical conditions and withdrawal symptoms (if needed), and to guard their overall health and well-being while in treatment. Ilona is also employed with MFT Veterans helping Veterans organization in Ottawa, which is a part of Ottawa House Wellness Group, specializing in treating patients with certain medical conditions with medical cannabis.
Justin Tudor Price, HBPH
“Here at Newgate 180, what sets us apart is the team approach and environment we create for our clients and one another. We understand that people who come through our doors have diverse needs and their own story, but immense courage to begin the journey to recovery and wellness. Watching people change and grow right before my eyes after such a short period of time is incredible, as well as how the group supports one another so positively and constructively is inspiring and incredible. What I love about being a case manager and counsellor is hearing my clients stories, supporting them along their journey, and bearing witness and a part of their success.”
Justin came to Newgate 180 with a focus in mental health, male gender issues, and addictions counselling. Justin completed his Honour Degree in Behavioural Psychology at St. Lawrence College where he flourished in individual and group counselling, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. Justin is experienced in residential treatment facilities for adults and youth, hospital forensic units, community addiction treatment teams, and nonprofit mental health organizations. Justin really enjoys the Newgate 180 setting. “The structure and content of the groups is very beneficial for the clients, but the supportive environment that is felt the second people walk in the door is second to none.” Justin focuses on empowering his clients with a client-centered approach that truly allows people to discover their best-self.
“I really believe the reason why Newgate 180 works first and foremost is the respect all our staff give the clients from the first phone call. Our ability to move fast when people need help, even if it does not result in the clients coming to Newgate, is a major plus for someone reaching out because they think they may have an addiction issue. Even if a person contacting us does not come to Newgate 180, they will still receive the time and guidance of one of our professional staff…this is something very special and I believe unique to Newgate.
“Once a client is in Newgate’s program it is the whole package: very in-depth and empowering treatment in a peaceful, serene environment with caring staff at all levels.”
Holly is the person who makes the Newgate 180 administration system work. And while she doesn’t often deal directly with clients through their journey to recovery, she definitely has seen incredible success in the lives of clients over the years.
“I have seen clients come in so beaten down they will hardly look you in the eye. By the time they leave, they will smile and interact with you…it is definitely a rewarding and sometimes very challenging environment, but we know we’re helping change lives and that is something very special indeed.”
And why did Holly choose Newgate 180 as a place to work?
“I like the positivity that fills the building. Our staff members are certainly caring to the clients, but in general are very supportive to each other. I see this in every position from our managers to the counsellors and through to the support staff.”
In 2012, while on a sabbatical and working as an Executive Assistant with the Catholic District School Board, Tom worked with many students in many different schools. During one of these interactions Tom met a three-and-a-half-year-old girl in junior kindergarten.
“I came to find out that this little girl had enough cocaine in her system that she would be classified as a user,” Tom said. “The reason she had the drug in her system was that the parents would party and the little girl would then eat her Cheerios off of the coffee table and what she was doing was ingesting cocaine.
“This was an incredibly difficult thing to see when I considered my own grandson was only four at the time,” Tom said. “The experience really drove home the thought that I could keep working with the Board one individual at a time or I could get back to Newgate and working with groups and help many more people.”
Tom describes the Newgate program as “solid” and says it is that approach to treatment as well as the Newgate team which truly makes it special.
“It just fits and our clients get that, there is a lot of compassion here and our clients understand what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. We don’t tear down our clients because they have been successful in many areas of their lives and when they come to us their lives have broken down over substance abuse. So what we do is we use their strengths, those things that have made them successful, to empower them which truly makes the program their program.”
Tom is a Certified Canadian Addiction Counsellor and is a graduate of the Social Service Worker Program at Algonquin College. He sits on the Advisory Board for the Social Service Worker Program for Algonquin College Perth Campus. Tom has spent many years advocating/driving for people with disabilities to receive the services and treatment they need, and also volunteers with other charitable projects including the Masons’ Child Identification Clinic. He serves as Chairman of a yearly fundraising golf tournament, helps out with youth golf clinics and spends volunteer time in the Big Red Suit in the 12th month of each year. He also serves as a motivational speaker to local youth groups.
“Newgate 180’s approach doesn’t just look at the addiction; it looks at every aspect of the person’s life. It truly is a holistic approach and all you need is to spend a little time with the staff to realize how deeply they care for their clients. To us, clients are people and not just a number.
Newgate 180 helped me to rediscover what I truly love about this field and helping others find their way to a sober lifestyle”
Leanne is a graduate with honours of the Social Service Worker program at Algonquin College. She has many years of experience working with youth who struggle with addictions and mental health and has been working with Newgate 180 for the past several years. In her spare time Leanne is currently completing a degree in psychology with Carleton University.
“Being part of the Newgate 180 team is an inspiring experience. Many of our clients come from challenging backgrounds and have overcome so much before even making it through our doors. I have seen how much courage is required to take the first step, especially for those who may not be doing it for their first time. It is amazing to watch clients support each other and to see them transition from that uncertainty about treatment to full engagement in their recovery. For me, the best part about being a counselor is the opportunity to witness the growth in people over the course of their stay here and the chance to be a small part of their journey toward positive change.”
Jen came to Newgate 180 with a background in mental health, trauma, and addictions counseling. She completed an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences, and after discovering her love for the intricacies of the brain, undertook her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Coming from hospital and clinic environments, Jen really appreciates the Newgate 180 setting. “There’s something unique about the atmosphere here. You don’t feel like you’re in a treatment facility. You feel like you’re in a home, and that can make all the difference for clients who are unsure about taking that next step and being away from their own home.” In addition to her work as a counselor, Jen enjoys time spent volunteering with new/young parents, children and youth, and animal rescue organizations.
“I always felt drawn to help those who face adversity and possess vulnerabilities. This I call my ‘Wounded Bird Complex’. Because of this, I chose to take this inherent need and nurture it through ongoing schooling and ultimately my career.
Initially I studied Community Justice Service Work at Loyalist College in Belleville where I later pursued a career in youth treatment centres within the realm of child welfare. I worked with vulnerable populations who struggled with behaviour management, mental illness, and addictions. During this time, I made a connection between victimization and subsequent drastic lifestyle changes (addiction, homelessness, criminal involvement, secondary victimization, and mental illness). To further pursue my knowledge in regards to working with vulnerable sectors, I enrolled in the Victimology Graduate Program at Algonquin College. As a victimologist, I am able to analyze trends of victimization and the implications that occur in the victim’s life and better assist in meeting their treatment needs to restore healthy functioning – both physically and mentally.
Since beginning at Newgate only recently, I have come to admire the integrity and respect between clients and staff. There is a high level of mutual understanding and respect, despite the difficulties that these clients face daily. What really inspired me within minutes of my arrival was that the atmosphere created was one of dignity and trust. In the short time I have been here, I have been blown away by the progress the clients make in a very short period of time with regards to challenging their previous behaviours and creating realistic goals for their future. I can see the difference in clients when they are working on this mind, body, and spirit. This is so amazing to see. In the future, I hope to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, as well as upgrading my education to include an addictions-specific counselling certification.”
Silent Hour Support Staff
Lester started at Newgate 180 in October of 2008 and brings 30 years of food service experience, including Food Service Operation Manager, Distribution Food Warehouse Manager and Purchasing Agent for a 100-store Restaurant Chain.
He is the person most clients see in the quiet of the night, or early in the morning.
“Over the years due to sometimes sharing similar interests with a particular client, or if the client is a very early riser, I have shared a number of laughs and have had interesting conversations. And this is the thing I like most about my position with Newgate.”
Lester is like the majority of staff members at Newgate who enjoy watching clients progress to become healthy individuals again.
“It is often the little things which are appreciated by the clients,” Lester says. “One time I folded a client’s clothes that were in the dryer. He was very happy and remarked to me that he was happy to see that humanity still did exist. That’s Newgate 180,” Lester says.
The Newgate 180 Difference
At Newgate 180 there is no long waiting list, in fact, in many cases, we can accept clients within 24 hours if and when they are ready and willing to begin the process of change.