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Chief Executive Officer

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Van Kuiken

Senior Program Manager



Hope Program Manager



Chief Financial Officer



Bridge Program Administrator

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Recovery Coach

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Jerry W.

Chief Marketing Officer




Men's Dorm Manager



Direct Care Staff

Genny Slater - The OG


“Have a glass of wine before bed, it will relax you and help you sleep.”


This is the advice I was given by my primary care physician when I went to see him about the crippling anxiety I was suffering while trying to cope with the fallout of a very acrimonious divorce. I wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t eating, and was barely making it through each day. I was willing to try anything.


So, despite not being a drinker, and not even having alcohol in my house, I stopped on the way home from that appointment and bought a bottle of wine. And what do you know – it worked. I drank a glass before bed and though I didn’t particularly care for the taste, it did relax me, and I was able to fall asleep. I did it again the next night. And the next. That was the beginning of my war with alcohol.


Pretty soon it took two glasses of wine, then the whole bottle, then a whole BIG bottle. And when the wine quit working, I switched to vodka mixed with juice, which  eventually became straight vodka. Alcohol was the escape from severe anxiety I had been desperately seeking and afforded me the luxury of not having to feel at all. While I thought my drinking was my choice and didn’t affect anyone else, I could not have been more wrong.


The volume of alcohol I was consuming of course affected my ability to mother my children. And it caught up with me in the worst way imaginable and my youngest children went to live permanently with their dad. Of course, the alcohol and its consequences exacerbated my anxiety, but instead of quitting, I just kept drinking more.


With my children gone and in a very dysfunctional relationship the hopelessness and darkness took over, resulting in a very intentional suicide attempt. As it turned out, I couldn’t even do that right and woke up in the mental health wing of the hospital where I would spend nearly two weeks.


This began a two and a half year battle that included a trip to detox, two treatment centers and a 9-day stay in the hospital recovering from a bout of alcohol induced acute pancreatitis. During this hospital stay I heard the doctor on the phone with my mom, who was trying to ascertain how urgent it was that she get there. She asked if I was going to die. I don’t remember much of that hospital stay but I can still hear clearly that doctor saying, “not today but if she ever drinks again, she will”. In that moment I knew I didn’t want to die, and I wanted more than anything to repair my relationships with my children and be their mom.


Prior to that last hospital admission, I had been holed up in a cheap motel for two weeks trying hard to drink myself to death. The first week I called in sick to work every day. The second week I didn’t even bother to call. I knew that I had lost my job but felt that I owed my boss an apology for just disappearing. I called her, prepared for her to let me have it. But a magical thing happened. She was glad to hear from me and wanted to know if I was ok, when I would be released from the hospital and when did I want to come back to work!


That grace she granted me changed everything. After 9 days, I was released from the hospital, went back to work the next week, and as of this writing, have not had one more drink of alcohol.


I wish I could say that everything since then has been perfect, but alcohol consumer or not, life is never perfect. But today, when life throws me a difficult situation, I am able to cope with it and handle it, rather than hiding from it. Because I made an attempt to take accountability for my actions, I was able to keep my job and work there another two years, the last year part-time while working full-time for Oxford House.


I could never have imagined that all of that would lead me to where I am today. I took my last drink on 4/30/2016. I came to work at Pay It Forward in the fall of 2018, first part-time keeping track of the finances, then full time in January 2019 as the Development Director. I have an accounting background and had no experience in fundraising. But as my dear friend and former boss always maddeningly tells me – “trust the process” and “just serve the people well and the money will manifest”. So, I trusted and served to the best of my ability, and it turned out that I wasn’t too bad at fundraising.


In January, I was promoted to Chief Financial Officer of this organization that works hard everyday to help change and improve the lives of those struggling with substance use. And in working to help create change for them, my life has been forever, incredibly changed too. This is not just a “job” – it is one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life and I will forever be grateful to all those who granted me grace along the way and loved me when I didn’t feel very loveable.





Ben faithfully serves Pay It Forward as our new CEO . As a former participant Ben understands what is necessary to be successful in the program , as well as in recovery from substance use disorder. Having overcome homelessness and his own substance use issues; he continues to promote “sharing the message”, as a way to help others find healing and resources that lead to personal success. 


When Ben is not working, he is pursuing a bachelors degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. He is a graduate of San Antonio College with a Human Services degree in Addiction Counseling. Ben also volunteers with his church doing community outreach. Ben also enjoys spending free time with his family.

Ben is proud to be be flourishing in long-term recovery since June 4, 2016.




Jerry learned the value and satisfaction of nonprofit work at an early age from his mother, who was a passionate volunteer and child advocate. Although he spent the first part of his professional career lost in the corporate jungle, he eventually found his way back to his nonprofit passion.


Jerry holds multiple degrees and certifications from the University of Utah, Grand Canyon University and UCLA.

Jerry owns his own design business which focuses on creating and integrating visual assets to help clients realize more effective results from their branding, marketing, PR and development efforts.

Jerry's wife, Celeste, also works in nonprofit. Their 2 dogs do not.




Lauren moved to San Antonio in 2019 to pursue a new life in recovery. After completing treatment, she moved into sober living. The structure and accountability proved to be exactly what she needed. Lauren came to work for Pay It Forward in 2020. “I believe in the success of sober living because I know what it’s done for my life and my recovery. I am passionate about serving those who are transitioning out of the cycle of substance use.”   Lauren  enjoys working closely with those who are in the sober living community. 


In her free time, Lauren enjoys cooking, movies, and spending time with the people she loves the most.

Lauren  is proud to be be flourishing in long-term recovery since October 6, 2020.




Prior to Pay It Forward Kari worked as a recovery coach at San Antonio Recovery Center and CHCS's ITP Program. As someone who is themselves in long-term recovery, Kari has a unique ability to connect with the ladies in our Hope Treatment Program. Her favorite part of her job is getting to know each woman on a personal level to help them succeed in their treatment.

Outside of work Kari spends time with her daughter, Karli, and her new granddaughter Hope (yes, that's s total coincidence!)


A few of her favorite things are hoodies, tacos and especially flamingos.

Kari is proud to be flourishing in long-term recovery since February 19, 2016. 


After years of drinking, I knew that I had a problem and that there had to be a better way to live. So, I found my way over to Haven for Hope and checked myself into treatment. After four months of intensive treatment, I transitioned over to the Pay It Forward sober living program where I lived for eight months.

I remember walking around campus one day and someone stopped and asked me, “do you work here?”. I replied, “not yet”! Little did I know then that I would in fact come back and help others the way that I had been helped.

At just around 3 years sober, I went to work for the Center for HealthCare Services in their substance use treatment program – the same program that provided my treatment! After almost 5 years with CHCS I decided to make a change and join the Pay It Forward team. Being able to come back and work at Pay It Forward SA has been a blessing and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be able to help others achieve long-term sobriety.

Bunny is proud to be flourishing in long-term recovery since March 15, 2016.




Prior to joining the Pay It Forward team, Genny served as the San Antonio Outreach Coordinator for Oxford House Inc. where she worked closely with PIF on behalf of Oxford House residents. Genny is thrilled to now have the opportunity to continue advocating for those in early recovery through her role as Development Director. Genny is also a woman in long term recovery from substance use and deeply understands what a vital role supportive sober living plays in helping those struggling with substance use to achieve long term recovery.


In her role as Chief Financial Officer she focuses on bringing wider attention to Pay It Forward and developing a broad donor base, allowing Pay It Forward to continue to serve all who are in need of our services. A long-time resident of San Antonio, Genny is a graduate of UTSA and enjoys spending time with her 3 children.


Genny  is proud to be flourishing in long-term recovery since April 30, 2016. 




Cherie is thankful to be a part of the Pay It Forward team, serving as the Senior Program Manager. She is a former member of the PIF dorm and knows what it takes to continue on the positive path.  She is a graduate of the Adult Drug Court program and serves as a mentor for the current participants. She has also completed training for Mental Health Peer support specialist and is currently attending San Antonio College to get her Associates degree in Human Services.


Outside of work Cherie loves exercising and is a big proponent of using exercise as a therapeutic means to help treat people struggling with homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health issues. She loves spending time with friends and family.


Cherie is proud to be be flourishing in long-term recovery since May 25, 2018.





After suffering 36 years of addiction, Lisa went to treatment and found she had a passion for helping others in recovery.  Lisa worked in an Integrated Treatment Program for substance and mental health and studied to become certified as aRecovery Support Peer Specialist as well as aMental Peer Support Specialist.  


“I now work with Pay It Forward and happily serve with the HOPE treatment team and monitor the female members of the sober living dorm.” 

In her free time Lisa enjoy her family.  “We love amusement and water parks.”  She fellowships with the Cocaine’s Anonymous program where she continues to build strong friendships.

Lisa  is proud to be flourishing in long-term recovery since October 24, 2016. 




Chris is the newest member of the Pay It Forward SA family. Like our CEO, Ben, Chris is also a past resident. After spending years in and out of homelessness, Chris committed to his recovery and is enjoying everything his new life has to offer. His extensive experience makes him the perfect choice to guide the men in our program, helping them to navigate and succeed in their own individual recovery journeys.

Outside of work Chris enjoys walking in nature (which has been instrumental in his recovery), eating good meals and fellowshipping. His biggest joy is watching his son, Devin, becoming a successful and happy young man.

Chris is proud to be flourishing in long-term recovery since September 30, 2020.

“I just want to say, thank you to P.I.F. and their staff. Hamilton, Ben, and Cedric were all amazing and have aided me immensely in my recovery. I am forever grateful for this program, and what it’s done for my life.”


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