Sponsored Content

Part Two – The Road to Recovery

Gulf Coast Community Foundation supports Tri-County Counseling and their client Zack Richison’s incredible recovery journey.

Presented by Gulf Coast Community Foundation October 4, 2022

Left to right: Zack Richison; Dr. Charlton Cerbone, Chief Executive Officer/Clinical Director of Tri-County Counseling; Jody Feinroth, Board President of Tri-County Counseling

In September, we highlighted Tri-County Counseling & Life Skills Center Inc., a nonprofit mental health counseling facility that provides mental health counseling and serves individuals who are in recovery from a substance abuse disorder who are rebuilding their lives after being incarcerated. Now, we at Gulf Coast Community Foundation want to share the incredible recovery journey of one of Tri-County Counseling’s previous clients, Zack Richison.

Tri-County Counseling was awarded $75,000 from the COVID-19 Response Initiative of Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and Gulf Coast Community Foundation to underwrite the cost for counseling sessions for individuals who couldn’t otherwise afford to pay. During the pandemic, Tri-County Counseling stepped up to meet the needs of their clients in the safest ways possible.

Meet Zack Richison, one of those clients. “I had just divorced the mother of my child and I self-medicated to get through the heartbreak. I got more into substances and it led me down a dark path. I ended up homeless, malnourished, with no clean clothes. I had to steal food and clothes to survive. I was too far down that dark path to see the mess I had created,” said Richison. After being arrested for petty theft and getting clean in jail, Richison was released and worked at an irrigation job where they trained him and taught him the industry - how to sell, design, and install irrigation and landscape lighting systems. He received his certification as an irrigation technician and had everything he needed to be successful.   

Unfortunately, Richison ended up getting arrested again from an old charge when he was using, even though he was now living a better, clean life. He went to prison and did his time there, participating in faith-based classes and bettering himself. Once he got out of prison, he went back to his job (which his boss was holding for him) and was more determined than ever to work hard and put in the time, effort, and energy to achieve his full potential. “My grandfather passed away when I was in jail and he never got to see what I am doing now,” said Richison.

Tri-County Counseling’s North Port Office

After prison, Richison needed to complete drug counseling. He found Tri-County Counseling and met Dr. Charlton Cerbone, chief executive officer and clinical director who has been in recovery for 14 years. “I felt Dr. Cerbone was someone who was passionate about his work and wanted to help people get better,” said Richison. Soon after participating in meetings, Richison’s mandatory time for counseling (26 weeks) was complete. “Then, Dr. Cerbone found a grant for me so I could see him on a one-on-one basis. We saw each other every two weeks and he became more than a counselor, but a friend to me as well,” said Richison. “The grant Dr. Cerbone received allowed me to see him without having to pay extra. I am grateful for the support Tri-County Counseling has received from the foundations. Without the funding, Tri-County Counseling would be limited on the services they offer for people who need it, but can’t necessarily afford it,” said Richison.

In recovery since 2016, Richison leads his life to its fullest potential every day and wants to share that momentum with others. He recently shared his story at the Behavioral Health Advisory Council meeting in front of mental health supporters. “I’ve been clean since 2016. I wanted more for myself, I changed my life, and I’ve been chasing after that ever since.” Zack’s guidance for those starting out in recovery? “Keep it simple. It’s a process. You have to sit down and face the things that have plagued you. If you want to get rid of the problem, you have to get rid of the root of the problem. It’s a painful and slow process, but it’s so worth it in the end,” said Richison.

Tri-County Counseling’s North Port Office

Richison started his own business, Liberty Outdoor Services LLC, and is creating a podcast to show others how they can make it in recovery and life. To start, he plans to interview Dr. Cerbone at the North Port Tri-County Counseling location.

To learn more about Tri-County Counseling, visit www.tri-countycounseling.org