“Tony has a gift that none of us have. We can only imagine what it’s like, what our people are going through. He knows.”Melinda Dennis
Melinda is the CEO of Inside Out Wellness and Advocacy. When asked to talk about Transitional Coordinator and Peer Recovery Specialist Tony Rothmeyer, she said Tony shares the gift of connection with residents. That’s because Tony knows the struggle many of them live with every day.
“He was able to overcome his own struggles, his own addiction, and live in sobriety. Which alone is a huge mountain for a lot of people to climb,” said Melinda. “He’s doing that and then on top of that, he’s also helping others.”
Tony said his struggles with addiction began at an early age and things spiraled out of control as an adult.
“I was married for 26 years and my two kids lived with me up until the time that they graduated high school. About that time, I started getting into trouble with the law. I got kicked out of my home with my wife,” Tony said. “I’m a two-time felon. I’ve probably spent a year in county (jail) total, so I pushed a lot of drugs, which I held a lot of guilt for that because I probably screwed up a lot of families.”
Tony said his family didn’t want anything to do with him and he hit rock bottom when multiple suicide attempts failed and he found himself in jail again.
“Heart of Iowa (HICS) stepped in. I lived here for six months as a resident, then I stayed one month on as a resident advisor and helped the other residents. Then once I graduated the program, two weeks later I came to work here,” Tony said. “I’ve been sober ever since. Now I look at it as all those rock bottoms that I hit all the time, my higher power, my guide saved me. He kept me alive for a reason. I think that reason is to do this. To help other people, to be here, to share my story. To show them how recovery can work and what you can get out of recovery when you do the right things and you make the right decisions.”
Tony said after recovery, he has been able to reconnect with his adult children and loves to spend time with his grandson. He continues to connect with the residents he works with because he shares his experiences and knows what they may be going through.
“He’s kind of our golden egg, like he’s our golden ticket to a lot of success stories because of the fact that he understands and knows where they’re coming from,” said Melinda. “He’ll say that his goal in life is to help more people than he hurt, and he is definitely on track to do that.”
Tony continues to help people by sharing his ticket to success and by celebrating their successes.