Rachel Helt is a native Staten Islander who has made Sussex County her home since 2006. Ms. Helt is a Certified Nurtured Heart Approach Trainer with over 30 years combined experience in medical, human services, sales and marketing and nonprofit business operations. In 2010 Ms. Helt joined the Family Support Organization of Morris & Sussex Counties after receiving services for her own family. She currently serves as their Executive Director. Prior to joining the Family Support Organization, Rachel served as a CCMA for Middletown Community Health Center. She is an active volunteer in the community and proudly serves as Board Member, Council Member or Committee Member for many local organizations, including: New Jersey Alliance of Family Support Organizations Board member; Sussex County Joint Mental Health LACADA Board Co-Chair; Sussex County Human Service Advisory Council Member; Sussex and Morris County Council on Juvenile Justice System Improvement (CCJSI) Council Member; Highlands Advisory Committee Member; Sussex County Law Enforcement Committee Member; Sussex County Mental Health Task Force Chair.
My own journey began over 20 years ago as a parent seeking services for my children; three who experienced significant mental health challenges, two with a long history of opioid addiction, all now in long term recovery. I am also the step parent to three children with special trauma related mental health challenges and former kinship caregiver to my granddaughter who has successfully reunited with her birth mother. I have seen the positive progression of service options and availability of programming for families with children with challenges, however the majority of programs available significantly decline or simply disappear at the age of 18. Having received services from a large majority of child serving system partners including private providers in New York, New Jerseys Children's System of Care, DCPP or DYFS as I knew it, Kinship Navigator Program, domestic violence providers, intensive outpatient programs, juvenile justice system, adult justice system including probation plus well over 12 out of home residential placements in multiple states has been a huge eye opener. Our society has become recovery focused and supportive of families of those in recovery however there are still major gaps in the system. Our Green Care Project Initiative intends to identify specific gaps for individuals in recovery by providing an educational experience, enhancing life skills, fortifying a sense of self-worth by nurturing the heart and forming a circle of community support by bringing recovery and nature together.
I may have lost our home, lost my job and hit rock bottom, but I never gave up on my children, my family.
I never blamed, never hated, never regretted and never lost love for them. I owned it.
Today I applaud them, their recovery and thank them for all the hard times which made me the person I am today.
Alan McCullough, Co-Founder and Program Director, was born and raised in a small fishing village in South West England where his love of nature started. After graduating high school he was employed by the Parks Division of Devon and Cornwall where he worked at some of Europe’s elite gardens while earning his Horticulture degree. Upon completing his degree Alan took 18 months off to work with the Welsh Hawking Center where he learned the art of Falconry and trained Eagles, falcons, Hawks and owls before returning to college to specialize in Arboriculture (Study of Trees).
He attended the prestigious Merrist Wood college of Arboriculture. While taking his degree simultaneously passed his European Arborist certificate from the Royal Forestry College. Upon completing his degree Alan was chosen to study in California for a year, climbing, learning and maintaining the world’s oldest, tallest and biggest trees. Needless to say he fell in love with the area and stayed for 11 years gaining his ISA International Arborist and Tree Worker Certificates as well as passing the ASCA (American Society of Consulting Arborists) Academy.
After California Alan turned his attention the rich and famous in the Hamptons NY and was the sales team leader for one of the East Coast premier tree care service providers. After 10 years of serving the world’s elite creating and maintaining their personal paradises it was time to get back to what mattered most..... Nature. Alan made New Jersey (The Garden state) his home where he was one of the first to receive the “Certified Organic Land Care Provider” certificate from Rutgers University, then went on to gain his New Jersey Certified Commercial Pesticide Applicator License and joined with a local landscape company to develop an organic plant health care program.
Wanting something different and cutting edge Alan moved on to a European company building and installing state of the art hydroponic living green wall air purifiers. As their National Director of Horticulture he traveled all over the USA teaching local and national landscape companies how to install and maintain the walls. After streamlining the procedure it was time to slow down and spend more time at home with the family. The animal rescue started and Patchwork Pastures became a priority. Although Rachel and Alan had been planning it for over 3 years, NOW was the time to put their plan into action.
Alan brings a lot of passion for all plants and animals and a thirst for learning and teaching with over 35 years in the Green industry and Master’s degrees in both Arboriculture and Horticulture. Alan brings a wide range of experience and his expertise with hands on production, organic and standard plant health care solutions, sales and management. With extensive knowledge of all plants from lawns, perennials and shrubs to the largest redwoods in California and also with hydroponic green walls; experience in every aspect of the plant world from greenhouse work to semi tropical zones and everything in-between; that combined with years of sales and upper management makes for a very rounded “green” partner..“BRINGING RECOVERY AND NATURE TOGETHER”