Those Who Serve: Bridgett

Bursting with energy and positivity, Bridgett Kelly’s outlook on and passion in life is infectious. As a clinician for BHN’s Crisis Services division, she tends to meet people at their most vulnerable point, experiencing a crisis with little or no hope for the future. While this may deter some from entering the field, Bridgett sees her work as an opportunity to give back and use her own life experiences to help those in crisis— something to which she is no stranger herself.

Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Bridgett, the second of seven sisters, moved to Springfield where they were raised. As a teenager attending school, Bridgett was told by teachers she would make a great social worker, seemingly solidified by a personality test she took that matched her responses with a career path in social services. At the time, she had no interest in such a career. Some years later, Bridgett recounts “a time of crisis in my life for nine straight months— nine months of total chaos,” involving frequent substance use. When she had reached her breaking point, “I found out about recovery and my life was saved.”

Upon successfully completing her recovery program, Bridgett developed a bond with those running the program, who immediately asked her to consider working with them. “When I got the phone call asking me to work for them, my first thought was, ‘why me?’” she recounts. Though reluctant at first, Bridgett began her work in recovery— this time helping individuals get through the same crises she herself had so recently battled. As a self-proclaimed lifelong learner, Bridgett went back to school to finish her degree, a Master’s in Social Work from Springfield College.

Now a crisis counselor at BHN, Bridgett still counsels individuals with addictions, though she also helps individuals with severe depression, anxiety, and other mental health crises. In reality, her role and impact expand much further than providing counseling. Three years ago, Bridgett began creating various support groups for women in the community. Hattitude is a group she created for women “in the spirit of sisterhood,” where members can make hats that express their individuality. This group also holds regular ‘empowerment meetings,’ often bringing in guest speakers to talk about female empowerment and strength. Another group she leads is Women in Recovery Inc., which so far has ‘adopted’ a local school where members serve as mentors to students, helping them gain access to important community resources.

Reflecting on her journey here, Bridgett can now answer the question, ‘why me?’ “Looking back, I realize I went through that crisis in order to bring me back to what I was always meant to do,” referencing the result of the personality test and her teachers’ predictions. Now 28 years sober, Bridgett views her past crisis as a way to connect with others experiencing similar adversity. By giving back, “we give people a sense of hope, and with hope comes faith, and a lot of times that’s just what somebody needs.”