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By Kim Morley and Holly Zweizig
September 25, 2014

To the person on the street, Penny Wood is just another Marysville resident who grew up and now lives in her hometown. She can be seen out and about at local events, selling woodworking products, or helping a friend move furniture across town.

Since 2008, Wood has served as the Director of the Wings Enrichment Center and has a passion for helping people succeed in a life of recovery. September is National Recovery Month.

Wings is a United Way Funded Partner that provides support, education, and employment training to people who are diagnosed with mental illness and may be in recovery from substance abuse.

A normal day at Wings may feel like absolute chaos to others. But Wood handles the constant phone calls, visits from consumers, and administrative tasks with her relaxed nature. She understands how important it is to spend time listening, being patient, and accepting others where they are, because she was once in their shoes.

Wood was just 12 years old when she began using drugs as a way to escape the pain of living in a dysfunctional family. She began selling those drugs to buy school clothes because she desperately wanted to fit in with other kids. The eventual spiral of her use and trafficking led to incarceration, loss of relationships, employment, and her health. Eventually she found herself homeless in Phoenix, Arizona, weighing less than 100 pounds.

In February 2005, with nowhere else to go, she hit rock bottom and returned to Marysville. In March of that year she began a path of sobriety and recovery. As part of her treatment, she began attending activities at the Wings Enrichment Center.

Wood began volunteering on a daily basis, finding support in a place that was safe and where she wasnít judged by others. Working with her hands through landscaping and woodworking, she developed self-confidence and began to heal from years of pain and addiction.

Eventually, Wood took on more and more responsibility at Wings until she became the Executive Director. Her persistence and dedication have allowed her to succeed professionally and personally. She oversees about 20 volunteers and coordinates services for over 50 consumers each month. In spring of 2014 under her leadership, Wings went through rigorous CARF accreditation and approval from the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities to formally provide employment training and placement for mental health consumers.

On a personal note, Wood celebrated her ninth year of sobriety this spring. Her recovery isnít determined by a doctorís clean bill of health, but by a conscious decision each day to be sober. Today she is healthy and happy and has recently become a homeowner for the first time!

The road to recovery is not a straight path. It has been a long journey for her to get to this place of contentment. Wood serves as an example that resiliency often means proving to yourself that you can overcome adversity and displaying that through kindness and service to others.

Wings Enrichment Center is located at 729 S. Walnut Street in Marysville and can be contacted at (937) 642-9555.

Penny Wood (right), Director of Wings Enrichment Center, serves as an example to all her clients that they can overcome their adversity.

Penny Wood, front, is not afraid to get her hands dirty in her work. Here, she leads a group of consumers on a recent Community Care Day project.
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