We’re excited to introduce you to Adam Martin, the Founder of F5 Project, an organization that coordinates services and provides personal support to break the cycle of crime. Adam, a 5-time felon turned entrepreneur, shares his story and inspiration for founding this amazing organization that helps inmates transition from confinement to a new life with a fresh start.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: My name is Adam Martin, and I am the Founder and Executive Director of F5 Project. I am also an alcoholic with 5 felonies. I’ve been sober for 5 years. I have three sons and a beautiful amazing girlfriend who has also been clean for almost 4 years.
Q: What was your inspiration behind founding F5 Project?
A: I worked in the tech sales as a Business Development Manager for a top shelf technology firm in Fargo for about 4 years. I got asked to speak at a United Way event with about 800 professionals from the community. I had no expectations when I walked onto stage, but when I was done and walked off the stage, my whole life changed. I knew what my purpose was in life, and I couldn’t deny it. I started taking recovery entrepreneur meetings into the jail. This consisted of teaching the entrepreneurship model of life and recovery, from how to start businesses to how to run your life like a startup. This concept started blazing a path through the justice system in North Dakota.
We opened our first F5 Opportunity House in April 2017 and we’re about to open our seventh and eighth on Oct 1, 2018. We decided to not mandate recovery and wanted to create opportunities for our peers. We were hearing people say, “We meet them where they’re at”, but didn’t see them doing anything great. So, instead we say, “We provide opportunities with where they’re at”. This means our houses will test your effort, not your sober date. We will test your attitude, not your choice to do recovery. We will test your trust, not how active you are in recovery circles.
Q: How did you decide to become a peer specialist?
A: I have been around the rooms of 12 step programs for many years, I've also been locked half my life. It was easy to see the barriers one encounters when they get out of jail or get sober. Starting from the bottom isn’t the easiest game. My experience also shows that it doesn’t have to be done alone. The problem is, not everyone has the resources or the network to have support. For me, I was one of the lucky ones that was able to have friends in the rooms of recovery that were willing to help me. I also got very active in helping others because I believed my recovery depended on it. I was providing housing, rides and support. But I was seeing a lot of people, especially in re-entry efforts, that didn’t receive that help. So, I quit my day job on the notion that no matter what the money looks like, I was going to dedicate my life to helping people come back from prison. Two years later we have a few companies, many employees and tons of supportive volunteers and speakers.
Q: How does F5 Project utilize peer specialists?
A: We have multiple peer support specialists (PPS) on staff, including myself. I am also a PSS Trainer in the state of North Dakota. We see the power of lived experience in regard to re-entry, and believe the justice system in North Dakota sees that power as well. We currently are providing services to 100 peers in a few different cities.
Q: What do you find most inspiring about being a peer specialist?
A: I get purpose. I've worked in a few different industries throughout my career, but it wasn’t until I got into re-entry services that I realized how valuable my experience was, and how the flicker in my heart could be fanned to a flame.
Q: What have you learned about the recovery journey during your time at F5 and as a peer specialist?
A: That my definition of recovery isn’t important. There are many roads to recovery, and we are just in the first mile of a marathon of what recovery is going to look like. Let me explain.. Just like religion, it started small a long time ago. Every once in a while, someone came along and claimed to have a new god or the new way. It created hostile environments in the communities, even to the point of death. No one liked the change, groups fought, debated, outcasted anyone who didn’t believe what they did.
Now I see the same thing happening with recovery platforms. AA, NA, SMART Recovery, Recovery Worship, ETC…. Everyday traditional beliefs are being tested and pushed. Newer groups disrupting traditional and traditional out casting newer. There is a lot of categorizing of recovery, and I think it sucks. It’s kind of bullshit.
I’ve been very traditional about recovery. I was that guy. Then I started F5 and realized that every person deserves the recovery they want to have, and it's none of my business. My role in recovery is to help peers get to the rooms they want, or don’t want. Sobriety is just a number, recovery is a life.
Q: You’ve been using the Recovree software, how have you found it helpful?
A: We do find it helpful, mainly because of the amount of data and peers we support. It can definitely be cumbersome to keep track of everyone. Coming from the tech sector myself, I know how important of a role technology will play in the coming years of recovery.
Q: Self-care is important for those in the helping profession. What do you like to do in your free time?
A: Personally, F5 is a lifestyle, not a job. So, it's hard to check out from work, especially when you’re the founder. So, I like to fully zone out of everything and do nothing. I watch movies, so I can completely detach from everything. It seems to work for me. I’ve been doing this for the last couple years. This year, I want to investigate something a little more physical. I’ve been keeping my eye on fat tire biking.