The Founders and Board Members that help make our mission a reality.
Born and Raised in Camden, New Jersey and a graduate of Camden High School 1984. Battled addiction and homelessness along with many incarcerations for Drug possesion and Distribution charges, Theft, Shoplifting and Weapons possesion. 20 plus years of running the circle of addiction from 1985 to 2010.
2010 to 2016 attended Pillar College (Newark) and Universsity of Phoenix. Worked at various substance abuse programs (Salvation Army, Integrity House and Re-Enter) as House manager ( ensuring the rules and regulations were followed by clients ), Peer Specialist ( managing support staff in the facility ), Intake coordinator ( responsible for completing all new client paperwork upon admission ) and becoming a Peer Specialist Supervisor in 2015. Responsible for staff and facility operations at (Re Enter) Philadelphia, P.A (substance abuse prog). Trained in monitoring behaviors of clients in a program setting as well as facilitating (Evidence based theory) groups. Worked closely with the Clinincal staff and Social workers discussing and identifying client behaviors and social needs observed in the facility. 2017 to 2020, Outreach Coordinator at New Beginnings Behavioral Health. Responsible for driving RV to (Addiction Hot Spots) in the City offering showers, clothing, food and assistance getting into programs and detox units as well as housing resources.
Certifications and accomplishments:
Clinical Assesment training, Fentanyl training, Narcan Certified, Treatment plan writing , STD and TB Cert, Motivational interveiwing Technics , Peer Specialist Supervisor, CPR and First Aid , Ethics and Boundries, Awarded Community member of the year 2021- Collab
Passion for the empowerment of others has always been front and center for Melanie Gaskins. As a graduate of Lehigh University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and Rutgers University Law School with a J.D., helping others was always a guiding principle. After working in mass tort litigation for over eight years, a desire to teach surfaced. After teaching and later becoming the Program Manager for the Legal Office Technology program at a for-profit institution, she went on to become the Director of Education and ultimately Campus Director responsible for over 300 students, 35 faculty and staff per year for over 10 years.
Her experience in the for-profit sector helped reach the underserved, inner city individuals who would not otherwise have access to post secondary education. For over 15 years, mentoring, discipline, compliance and motivation were the cornerstones of her success. Students were able to change their lives and the lives of their families for generations to come with the skills they acquired.
An ongoing desire to help others led to the co-founding of SetFree Outreach, along with Gary Samuels, with a mission to end the cycle of addiction by helping those who want help get help. Accordingly, Melanie serves as the Administrative Outreach coordinator, driver and Street Ambassador for SetFree Outreach.
Setfree Outreach endeavors to meet people where they are to eliminate their inability to make it to a brick and mortar facility. SetFree Outreach further endeavors to assist with locating detox and rehab facilities and providing transportion to those facilities, to ease the burden of getting the help they need.
As individuals complete their designated treatment, SetFree Outreach seeks to assist clients with resume’ writing and job readiness. Melanie has years of experience teaching and training in Career Preparation, to assist in the reentry back into society with gainful employment.
Clinton D. Freeman
With a professional background in business management, Clinton began working extensively with community development centers in the mid-1990 to the present. Clinton is qualified to lead, empower and counsel others due to his 25 years of sobriety after surviving drug and alcohol addiction through successful treatment and rehabilitation. He prides himself on being able to connect directly with those who find themselves in similar life
He currently serves as General Manager of his local ABC Board where he’s tasked with working in conjunction with local law enforcement and the State ABC Commission to regulate and control the sale and consumption of alcohol.
Aaron D. Samuels
Aaron D. Samuels has a background in the studies of Public Administration from Thomas Edison State College. In both academic and professional careers, he has worked to improve access to educational and job opportunities for all members of his community. He currently works in grants management, State Government work, and helping organizations with the implementation of grant awards that serve some of the most vulnerable segments of our community.
Prior to working in grants management and serving on multiple subcommittees, he was the Co-Chair and Co-Creator of Mercer County Youth partnership with the Private sector. In this role, he was able to develop community partnerships with private sector businesses around the cause of empowering community youth to not only change their own lives, but to be a positive force for change in their communities, all while getting the appropriate training in a
demand occupation. During his career he had had the privilege of working with a variety of community organizations and initiatives focused on providing training opportunities to underrepresented populations. Those underserved communities included: segments of the African American community, disenfranchised communities, youth, males, and re-entry populations, as well as, individuals on TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). All
of these programs provided important educational, job training, and leadership opportunities to individuals who were looking for a way to build a sustainable economic future for themselves and their families. Serving the community is a passion that he takes seriously.
Tonya Barnes is an accounting professional out of Pennsauken, NJ. Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Tonya relocated to Atlantic City, NJ in 1991 where she gained employment with NorthStar a nonprofit geared to pregnant and postpartum women suffering from addiction. While there she had various roles
from office manager, transportation of clients to inpatient facilities as well as facilitating groups.
After leaving Northstar Tonya transitioned her career with a focus in accounting into the hotel industry serving several years with Flagship Resorts in Atlantic City, NJ and Epic Resorts in King of Prussia, PA.
Ms. Barnes was a Co-Founder of United We Rock Basketball League, a non-profit youth basketball league for boys which successfully obtained sponsorship from MGM Grand Casinos and The Tom Joyner Morning Show.
Tonya is currently employed with Wedgewood Pharmacy as an Accounting Associate for 18 over years.
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