MEET OUR BOARD
We role models, mentors, advocates and motivators to those who are looking to gain access to treatment. We have understanding and compassion from personal experiences and recovery.
All of our board members have all lost family members and friends due to addiction. Some of our members are in long-term recovery. We have testified before the Republican House Committee on issues addicts and families face. Lack of access and good treatment is at the top of the list.
We are active in our community helping to educate those around us. We understand the issues addicts are facing. Overdose shouldn't need to be a requirement for someone to get help. We know how to navigate the system, help those struggling to find treatment and transition into recovery.
Jacki Smiro (President)
June 30, 2008, I lost my 17-year-old son, RJ Zwaan. It was the beginning of the opioid epidemic in our area. RJ is just one of at least seven others from the Avon Grove High School Class of 2009 gone from an overdose.
I've been actively advocating for families and those struggling with addiction. I am a member of the Chester County Drug Task Force and have attended Drug Task Force meetings in other states to learn what they are doing. I have participated in roundtable discussions with Governor Wolf, Senator Yew, and other local government officials and met with PA Department of Drug & Alcohol in Harrisburg. Most recently I testified before the Republican House Committee in response to the opioid epidemic along with other members of our board.
We formed a Parent Grief Support Group for those who lost a loved one to addiction. I know that recovery is possible, so we opened a clubhouse for those in recovery in Parkesburg and have plans for another in West Grove.
Today, I live for RJ by creating community engagement and education through public speaking, organizing overdose awareness vigils, community training, and events.
In the years following RJ’s death, it became increasingly obvious that this was not a “freak accident”. As a parent, I was no longer alone and could not bear to hear of one more parent joining this club. To this day it continues to break my heart as I hear of another and another life lost.
After RJ died, I realized that no one was talking to the students. In 2014, I assisted in forming a chapter of NOPE (Narcotics Overdose, Prevention, and Education) in Chester County schools and have presented to over 20,000 students. If you are interested in becoming a family member speaker contact me.
In addition to issues with obtaining treatment, we have laws in place that are failing our young people. I have spoken with our state and local government officials. I’m the one that asks, "What more can we do?" and "Why not?"
Live4RJ was founded because realized that WE CAN do more and today that’s what we are doing.
Andrew Meinster (Vice President)
Andrew just celebrated 5 years of recovery, is a dedicated father and family man today. He is the owner/operator of TrapStar Fitness. Andrew knows the struggle addicts face. His self-esteem was decreasing every day as friends and family continued to fall victim to his addiction. His life lacked direction and was headed down a path that could only end with death or jail. He needed to change his lifestyle but did not know how to keep his mind off drugs and stay sober.
It all began with a trip to the gym with his father. With determination and the constant positive support of his personal trainer “The Fitness Guru,” Andrew realized there was more to life than getting high. He attributes that to God who put the right person at the right time in his life.
Through early morning hill sprints and boot camps at St. Joe's track he discovered that a strong focus on self-improvement and physical fitness would help overcome his darkest days. When withdrawal symptoms were too much to bare he found comfort in knowing that he was slowly taking his life back. Andrew took his experience and continues pays it forward.
Brandt Norton (Secretary)
Brandt is more than just our board member. He is a person in long-term recovery since April 2010. He has been professionally working in the addiction field for over 6 years.
He holds a Bachelors in Political Science and has recently won a
Research and Writing award entitled “The Opiate Epidemic” through West Chester University.
In his current position as an outreach coordinator at Behavioral Wellness & Recovery, Brandt engages communities through outreach, planning local events, and spends his time helping families and individuals get connected to treatment resources.
Feel free email Brandt directly!
Winden Rowe (Board Member)
Winden Rowe, MS maintains a private practice in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania where she works with individuals, couples, families, and organizations. Her education, clinical experience, and passionate interest center around the study of and work in the field of trauma.
Winden’s approach to securing sustained improvement and recovery for clients dealing with the effects of trauma centers around linking the biological, psychological, and social implications of traumatic stress and the identified trauma.
In addition to trauma counseling, Winden lectures, teaches, and consults in the field. Ms. Rowe has been a guest on a variety of media broadcasts including National Public Radio 'Morning Edition', 'Radio Times' and others.
Theo Gordon Hardy (Board Member)
Theo is also a person in long-term and co-owner of a sober living community right here in Chester County called Healthy Habitats . Theo spends most of his days transitioning, mentoring and taking the men to meetings, appointments and job interviews.