On September 11, 2001, Kayla Bergeron was sitting at her desk on the 68th Floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center when the first airplane struck her building. After a harrowing experience in the stairwell and narrow escape, she worked around the clock, month after month,as director of public affairs for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Through rescue, recovery, attendance at over 30 funerals, 911 Commission Hearings and the redevelopment of the 16-acre World Trade Center site, she kept working. Seventeen years later, upon entry to Forsyth County Accountability Court, she was finally diagnosed with PTSD. Through 3 years spent in CARE Court, a rigorous treatment and accountability program, she's worked through trauma and is on the mend. Now, Kayla has found a purpose, working as the Executive Director at The Connection Forsyth.
As we reflect on today, the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we want to honor and spotlight a local community member who has overcome so much and is now giving back.
Recently Kayla sat down with Rena Olsen for the Relevate podcast. Listen to Kayla's story of hope, recovery and redemption below...
"It was a day like any other for Kayla Bergeron when she went to work in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Hear her story of surviving that harrowing day and the trauma she still carries. And how a second DUI arrest ultimately became her lifeline." - Rena Olsen
Kayla Bergeron serves as the Executive Director at The Connection Forsyth, a local Recovery Community Organization. She has spent a career in public service, having served as a mayor and councilwoman in New Jersey. She also served as an advisor to former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman. She served as director of communications for the New York Housing Finance Agency before being tapped as director of public and government affairs for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
On September 11, 2001, she narrowly escaped the collapse of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Immediately after, she led the agency’s response to the terrorist attacks. Seventeen years later she was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and entered Forsyth County’s Accountability Court CARE Court program for dual diagnosis.
In addition to individual and group counseling, Kayla credits a lot of her healing to equine therapy at Special Equestrians of Georgia.
After graduating from Forsyth County’s Accountability Court CARE Court , she was chosen as the program director for The Connection Forsyth. Kayla speaks regularly about her 9/11 experience in an effort to bring awareness to PTSD and Substance Use Disorder. Her priority now is her recovery and being useful to others. In addition, she is now a Certified Peer Specialist and is helping others find long lasting recovery from addictive disease.
Kayla is an amazing person and the team here at Therapeutic Recovery Network is extremely honored to call her a friend and collegue.
The Connection Forsyth is a Recovery Community Organization. Established by the Recovery Community Foundation of Forsyth (RCFF), The Connection is an independent 501(c)3 organization established in 2018 and funded by a grant that is part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act: Building Communities of Recovery program.
To learn more about The Connection Forsyth visit www.theconnectionforsyth.org
Special Equstrians of Georgia
Their mission is to provide a nurturing therapeutic environment to help individuals facing physical, emotional, and mental challenges. Their goal is to provide a supportive environment that empowers all types of riders through equine assisted activities to reach their full potential.
Please consider making a donation to Special Equestrians of Georgia. Due to the pandemic, coupled with some terrible weather earlier this year, has depleted their funds substantially. Any amount helps feed these horses. They are a 501c(3) corporation so your gift is tax deductible! www.specialequestriansofgeorgia.org
Relevate Podcast with Rena Olsen
As a self proclaimed “inspirer of others,” Rena dishes out doses of hope and inspiration to her friends and family, clients, and now to a broader audience through the Relevate Podcast. She also consults with non-profit organizations and small businesses to help tell their stories and engage with audiences. Rena believes a better life awaits for anyone willing to take that first step.
To learn more about Rena, the host of the Relevate Podcast: https://rena-olsen.com