Lifelong Middletown resident Felicia Goodwine-Vaughters is the coordinator of prevention and wellness for Rushford Center, one of Connecticut’s leading substance abuse and mental health providers. Rushford has offices in Middletown, Meriden, Glastonbury and down on the shoreline, and it contracts with public school systems for various prevention programs.
Two full days a week, Felicia works at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Middletown where she is responsible for prevention and awareness. She runs in-school groups for kids and meets individually with students.
She also runs an after-school program called “Rams in Action” that is a peer leadership program. Soon she will be starting an anti-bullying program in the middle school as well.
I was able to catch her in her office at the middle school one day and she shared her perspective on her work and life in Middletown.
Here is what Felicia had to say:
How long have you worked at Rushford?
I’ve worked here since June 2005.
What do you like best about working here?
The kids. I get to come in and educate them on lots of stuff – but it’s the conversations and relationships that just makes the job amazing. My door is usually always open and sometimes I have kids that will come in and sit down and are just completely distraught and you can just tell they aren’t their usual self and we sit down and have a conversation and when they leave with a smile on their face and say, “Thank you, Miss Felicia,” there’s nothing better than that. I want them to leave differently than when they came.
Is this what you always dreamed of doing?
I always wanted to work with the kids. I started out as a preschool teacher and then got into working with the older kids. But I always have been around kids … as a camp counselor and more and I just knew it would be something I should be doing.
Do you have a favorite place to eat in Middletown?
I do like Pattie Palace and I do like Typhoon – but only when there’s parking! I do enjoy those two restaurants.
If you were mayor of Middletown, what would be your first priority?
I think Middletown really needs a Boys & Girls Club or some type of community center where the kids –- of all ages -– can go. They can have adults come in and mentor them -- because sometimes it’s hard to get them to come into the schools – but if it were something community-based anyone could come in and interact and make a positive impact.