Craig Pickos was born walking distance from the shores of Lake Michigan in Kenosha, WI. He later moved to Central Florida where he attended high school and graduated from what is now called Polk State College. During that time, his professional waterskiing career ended early due to an undiagnosed substance use disorder. The condition continued to worsen till he discovered recovery in June of 1997.
He now lives a healthy and peaceful life on the same lake in Florida that he grew up on as a boy. His life’s mission is to ensure that anyone impacted by drug use that is needing and wanting recovery, will receive compassionate and loving support. For this reason, he helped found the recovery community organization, Polk for Recovery.
Andrea Anderson has been in recovery since 2008. She is firmly planted in her faith and her recovery. She has a deep passion for helping others discover a way out of addiction and to a new life in recovery. She truly believes this is her calling in life. Andrea brings years of experience and resources needed for our community and has the goal to be “the best that she can be” in her work as a valued team member for Polk for Recovery.
Director of Community Outreach
Tina Brown grew up in McPherson, KS. She enjoyed working in the hospitality industry while she earned her BS in Business. After graduating from college, she moved to her native state of Florida and continued in that field for several more years. As she continued to work many late evenings, she became active in the night life which led her down the road to her addiction.
This destructive lifestyle continued for years until she found recovery in 2018. Due to the varied resources that Polk County has to offer in the recovery field, she is living proof that “We Do Recover.” She is now living a rewarding life spreading her message of hope. Because of her compassion for others and helping them find their own recovery, she has teamed up with the recovery community organization, Polk for Recovery.
Jim grew up in Lakeland, Fl, within a loving family. Jim fondly recalls as a boy eagerly waiting for his father to come home from work to practice pitching and shagging pop-ups and flies in a vacant lot down the street from their home. Jim went on to play multiple sports competitively, but at age fifteen, he began to drink and experiment with drugs, a secret he tried tirelessly to hide from his family. Over the next six years, Jim was arrested a few times on alcohol-related charges, quit playing golf, dropped out of college, and was suffering from significant episodes of depression. In the late 1980s, Jim was able to find help via an inpatient treatment program, and his recovery journey began. It has been an exciting journey with many ups and downs and twists and turns. Including marriage, starting a family, and losing loved ones in both traumatic accidents and long, tedious goodbyes. Through it all, Jim found his recovery community to be there for him.
Jim’s recovery has enabled him to work within the social work field, specifically with individuals and families suffering from substance use disorders, for the past thirty years. He currently is employed with the 10th Judicial Circuit Court in Polk County, FL, as a Behavioral Health Case Manager. He is doggedly pursuing a Master’s in Social Work at FSU after being out of school for 30 years. His passion is to see others find hope, meaning, and their path of recovery. Jim’s wife, Valerie, is a nurse who also works in the treatment field at a local detox. Jim and Valerie love spending time outdoors and with their adult daughter Anna (the joy of their life).
Barbara was born in Peoria, Illinois and lived there until her mid-teenage years. Her father was able to retire at the age of 49 and moved the family to Florida. During her childhood in Peoria, her dad was able to maintain his job but drank a lot, every day! She vividly remembers seeing him 2 months after he went into treatment, and he was sober for the first time in many years. Although he passed in 2016, he never drank again and was a mentor through Alcoholics Anonymous for many years to others who needed someone to help them maintain their sobriety.
Gary Graham grew up in Washington DC. He joined the United States Marine Corps at the age of seventeen to fulfill his dream of serving our great country. Upon completion of his service, he found himself beginning to drink heavily and eventually in the middle of his own addiction with multiple substances. Gary was introduced to a 12-step program in the late 80’s, however it was not until 1994, when he entered a yearlong program based in Orlando, FL that he would learn how to apply the steps and the principles of recovery. Gary is now a person in long term recovery enjoying the many gifts a life in recovery has to offer. Gary shares his experience, strength and hope daily working as a Certified Recovery Peer Specialist and is both committed and passionate about working with the recovery community organization, Polk for Recovery.
Jessica was born and raised in Winter Haven, FL. Her struggle with alcohol and drugs began in her teen years and continued into her early 30s. While she achieved some successes including earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Administration and creating her own company caring for the elderly and disabled, she was dying from depression, disconnection, and the disease of addiction.
In late 2020, she asked for help from a long-time friend who was in a 12-step recovery program, and that has saved her life. She now works full-time at a local media and marketing company and spends the majority of her free time focused on her recovery and helping others in the recovery community.
Director of Creative Media Services
LisaAnn was born in Western NewYork and enjoyed growing up in a big Italian family. She adores all things nature and has a passion for cultural/ethnical diversity. LisaAnn considers herself a woman in long-term recovery, rooted in grace. She continues healing from a mental health diagnosis of panic/anxiety disorder and celebrates recovery from a drug/alcohol addiction since 2014. Through therapeutic settings, an anonymous 12-step fellowship and the Celebrate Recovery Ministry she continues growing & healing. Her purpose is serving God and helping others. She is pursuing a college education in psychology- with focus on co-occurring disorders and is also studying as a minister in training for ordination. LisaAnn accepted the opportunity to become a Certified Recovery Peer Specialist and enjoyed serving at a large non-profit organization here in Polk County for several years. To continue on the journey of recovery LisaAnn has teamed up with the RCO-Polk for Recovery to further the message of HOPE, bring tangible resources and give what was freely given to her.
Director of community services
Yeleida has over 15 years of experience working to help those recovering from a dependency on drugs and alcohol. She has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from the Pontifical Catholic University in Puerto Rico; is currently working to become a Certified Addiction Professional, certified by the Florida Bar; spent 10 years working in prisons in Puerto Rico, specifically with inmates with drug and alcohol dependency; has 5 years’ experience working in Problem Solving Courts; and is also currently working for a private office providing therapy for those recovering from substance dependencies, as well as providing therapy to families and children for abuse, family reunification, adjusting to new environments, treating sexual abuse cases, and other traumas.
Olivia was born in Zachary, Louisiana. Though she clings to some of her southern traits of home, like her LSU Tigers, delicious cajun food, and lifetime friends, she has been in Florida since around ten years old, and considers herself a true "Floridian." Olivia received her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Florida in 2015. Five years later, she returned to school right before the pandemic. Olivia graduated with her master's degree in social work in 2022. Currently, she is a registered clinical social work intern pursuing licensure. She is also a certified personal trainer and enjoys physical activities and hobbies like exploring nature, fishing, and swimming. She hopes to help people heal and grow through focusing on both physical and mental well-being. She is passionate about connecting with others in the community and making a life in recovery more accessible and achievable for all.
Director of Operations
Janice is a native Floridian but her childhood years, as part of a military family, were spent residing in various parts of the US, Okinawa and the Philippines. Her family finally settled in Louisiana where she attended high school and college. In 1983 she returned to Florida and began her working career in the finance industry, eventually moving to Polk County where she married and raised her family. Janice began a journey involving alcohol dependency early in life and while she attempted many times to seek sobriety through the help of mental health counselors and treatment centers, she was finally granted the gift of sobriety over twenty-three years ago through the help of a 12-Step Program. In addition to her new position at Polk For Recovery, Janice also works for a local small business handling all aspects of its daily operations as well as donating part of her time as an active Board Member of a local non-profit known as Winter Haven Fellowship, Inc. Janice hopes to continue giving back to the community by exploring new ways she can be of service.
Director of Finance
Kelsey was born in Nashville, Tennessee, where she grew up with three older sisters, her mother, and father. She was passionate about sports and played volleyball, ran track, and was on the drumline. At the age of fourteen she was introduced to a boy and began experimenting with drugs. This led to a life of poor choices and destruction. Kelsey entered her very first detox in 11th grade, however, she fell immediately back into old behavior upon her discharge and continued in the same relationship with the same young boy. This is the path that Kelsey continued down for 11 years. During this time Kelsey became pregnant with her first baby girl and two years later she gave birth to her second baby girl. Even knowing that she gave birth both times to substance exposed newborns, this was not enough to keep her sober. Kelsey found herself slipping into a deep depression. In 2021 Kelsey was introduced to a twelve-step program and had a spiritual awakening. She is now giving back what was so freely given to her. Kelsey has partnered with Polk for Recovery as a Certified Recovery Specialists who specializes with women and SEN (Substance Exposed Newborns). Kelsey is working towards getting her YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) certification and is determined and hopeful about reuniting with her two beautiful baby girls. Kelsey is a pillar of strength and hope and continues to work on her program one day at a time.