Caitlin Gillespie

There are times that one’s life seems to come full circle. Caitlin Gillespie, North Suffolk Community Services’s, Services over Sentencing (SOS) Project Coordinator and Recovery Coach Supervisor can readily attest to that. There was a time she feared courtrooms she now works in helping others. Rightfully so.

In September 2016 Caitlin was homeless, living under the Zakim Bridge, addicted to heroin and stealing to support her habit. At the end of that September, Caitlin was arrested for petty larceny. During the booking she learned she was three months pregnant then was escorted into South Bay Jail.

Caitlin was assigned to the Charlestown Drug Court and went into a Women’s and Children’s Program. “I was pregnant there and gave birth there,” she said. Caitlin was also assigned a Recovery Coach who supported her and consistently reached out.

In and out of programs and half-way houses since 2007, Caitlin credits Recovery Coaching with her success this time around. “I had never heard of, nor had a recovery coach until the Charlestown Drug Court,” said Caitlin.

Caitlin’s Opioid use began in college. “When I got to college I drank a lot, but didn’t really know anything about drugs” she said. And then one day in 2004, someone offered her an Oxycotin. Despite her opioid use college, Caitlin managed to graduate from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor in Business Management. However, eventually her Oxycotin use led to heroin, which then led to 12 years of a spiraling addiction.

When Caitlin graduated from the Charlestown Drug Court in 2018, she received a call from Katie O’Leary, Director of Recovery at NSCS, asking if she’d like a job as a recovery coach. Since then, Caitlin has been promoted numerous times and has developed strong relationships with judges and offenders alike.

Caitlin recently purchased and moved into her first home and in May 2023, she will graduate from nursing school. She plans to continue on in her nursing education to obtain an MSN. She says will most likely stay on at NSCS as she ventures into a new career in nursing. “My experience at NSCS came in handy during my nursing clinicals,” she said. Adding, “my work here has given me a different perspective on people.”

Catlin is especially grateful for her recovery this time of year. “Family memories and gratitude are at the top of my wish list every year for the holidays, she said. “I spent too many years alone and full of despair and lucky for me my recovery gave me another chance at life. I never take for granted the special moments I now get to spend with the beautiful family I’ve been able to create and be present for my recovery.”