Could we get some brief biographical information from you? Hometown, previous experiences in recovery, educational/vocational track etc.?
My name is LeeAnna Gill, and I am a primary therapist at Green Hill Recovery. I was originally born in Ohio and raised in Michigan for most of my young childhood. My family moved to the western part of North Carolina when I was in middle school. I often feel split between my Midwestern and Southern identity. After spending my teen years in the foothills of NC, I decided to travel up the mountain to Boone, NC. It was there I went to Appalachian State University to get my bachelor’s degree and began working in social service jobs. Some of those jobs included homeless shelters and a day program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This led me to getting my Master of Social Work (MSW) degree at UNC Chapel Hill.
What’s one thing your hometown could be known for, and why?
My hometown in Michigan could be known for corn fields. It was a rural area and everyone I knew owned fields of corn. My hometown in North Carolina could be known for furniture because it used to be one of the largest furniture producing towns in the country.
What made you want to work in this field?
I have always had an interest in helping people, but what sealed the deal was my first job at a homeless shelter. It was an eye opening experience. While I was there, I learned firsthand how much mental health and substance use disorders play a role in people’s circumstances surrounding poverty and vice versa. The longer I worked there, the more I realized that I wanted to be able to provide the residents with more than just a listening ear or a midnight snack. During that job I decided to go back to school to get my MSW and help people with their mental health and substance use disorders with a more clinical focus.
What do you believe makes Green Hill stand out in its field, and why?
Green Hill has figured out what is really important for recovery: therapy, connection, accountability, family involvement, learning new skills, and discovering joy again. Recovery is not isolated to substance treatment; it is so much more. It needs to include connection with people who will be supportive of and helpful with one’s recovery. Learning new activities that are exciting and fun while being substance free. Green Hill provides a space for people to get the holistic treatment they deserve.
What makes Raleigh an ideal environment for young people in recovery?
Raleigh is an ideal environment because there are so many activities and fun things to do that don’t involve substances. Additionally, there are so many ways to get involved and connect with the community.
What does your ideal day look like?
My ideal day would be spending the day at an amusement park, preferably Cedar Point during the fall. The weather would be sunny, but cool with a nice breeze. I would want to be with my friends and family. The park would be relatively empty so we could easily make it through all of the lines without having to wait. We would eat so much park food like elephant ears and funnel cakes. Riding rollercoasters all day would be the best day ever.
Can you name one role model you have, and what that person has had such an impact?
One of my role models is my mom. She definitely helped shape me into the person I am today. She has a heart full of compassion and a desire for justice for everyone. Growing up she was always concerned about the suffering of others. Not only did she have compassion for others, but she always had compassion and empathy for me. I know that I care deeply for others and have a desire for helping because she modeled that for me. I have always admired her calm and warming presence and I hope to emulate that with my own clients.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? How has that advice affected your day-to-day?
People always think about what they would do differently if they could go back in time and change the past, but rarely do they realize that the small things they do today can have a great impact on the future. This has made me more thoughtful about how I spend my time and more mindful about my decisions. Even small changes can have a lasting impact.
What’s one message you wish our residents at Green Hill would always take with them?
I wish that they would always remember that to err is human and it is important to have self-compassion and to have a community that can help support you in good times and bad.
Quick Facts about LeeAnna
Undergraduate school: Appalachian State University
Graduate school: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Favorite book: The Giver
Favorite podcast: The Mortified Podcast
Favorite sports team: Golden State Warriors
Favorite spot to visit in Raleigh: NC State’s James B. Hunt Library
Favorite meal: Dragon Noodles
Dream vacation: Going to the beaches in Greece
Dream job as a child: Firefighter