Chester Co. woman awarded for helping veterans receive a 'Fresh Start'

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Chester Co. woman awarded for helping veterans receive a 'Fresh Start.' Jeannette Reyes reports on Action news at 6 p.m., September 21, 2017 (WPVI)

A Chester County woman who fought a 20-year battle with drug addiction was recently given special honors.

Jodi Savits directs the Fresh Start Transitional Recovery Home, a program aimed at helping local veterans on their road to recovery.

In August, the 52-year-old was honored with the 2017 Voice Award from an agency within the US Department of Health and Human services. Savits was recognized for her work with veterans with veterans battling serious mental health issues and addiction.

She said the path she travelled to get to this place wasn't always glamourous, that at times it was filled with unimaginable darkness and depression.

She recalled a time when she nearly overdosed, and a friend drug her to a gas station because he didn't want the police at his house.

"I swallowed 100 Xanax because I didn't want to live anymore," said Savits. "I was done."

Savits currently works at the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She herself was addicted to drugs and alcohol for more than two decades. She's been clean for 17 years. Just last year alone she helped more than 150 veterans and residents do the same.

"I refer to her as 'mom dukes,' and I can refer to her when I get lost," said combat veteran Jeffrey Jones. "Having suffered from PTSD I go through little moments."

Sabrina Dickens of Mayfair credits Savits with showing her how to be comfortable with herself and to trust people.

"She taught me how to be positive," Dickens said.

Her boss and friend of more than a decade, Fresh Start Executive Director Jeff Pittner nominated her for the prestigious award.

Pittner said her work made it possible to open up another brand new center in North Philadelphia offering the same mental health and addiction recovery services.

"Without the work that Jodi's been doing in Coatesville and the success and the outcome that we've had with that program, I don't know that the federal government would have awarded NHS this new program here in Philadelphia," said Pittner.

Savits said she is willing to help anyone that comes across her path, as that's the slogan of the program.

"You got to give it away to keep it, and I want to keep it," she said.

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