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Eastern Panhandle Solar Company Helps Those In Recovery Find Employment

Two people can be seen working on eight solar panels. The two men are wearing blue shirts and ball caps.
Mountain View Solar workers installing solar panels on a roof.
Matt Hovermale/Mountain View Solar

Mountain View Solar, a solar panel installation company based in Berkeley Springs, Morgan County, is helping those recently out of substance use programs land on their feet.

The company works with Mountaineer Recovery Center, a substance use treatment facility based in Kearneysville, Jefferson County, to help its participants find work after graduation. Clinical psychologist Dr. Jonathan Hartiens is the CEO of Mountaineer Behavioral Health, the company that runs the center.

“We really view recovery from addiction as similar to recovery from cancer, from heart disease or any other kind of chronic medical condition. And one of the best mitigators of relapse is getting right back into the workforce,” Hartiens said.

After a 30-day program that moves its residents away from drugs and alcohol and promotes sober living, the center focuses on getting its residents back into a positive community.

“As members go through the program, we really are intentional about getting them connected to the community,” Hartiens said. “Whether it’s with churches, or civic groups, whether it’s through the Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous community, and the business community as part of that effort as well.”

Hartiens spoke with Mountain View Solar owner Mike McKechnie about a partnership after he joined them on a job to add solar panels to the Mountaineer Recovery Center building.

Not only does the company set up graduates with a job in solar panel installation, but housing and transportation as well. This provides their workers with the resources to be able to work, but McKechnie said it also sets them up for a future career outside of the company.

“People coming out of recovery usually don’t have a car, don’t have a cell phone, don’t have a job, don’t have potentially the skills they need to get reengaged in the workforce,” McKechnie said. “What we saw was a lot of desire, but they are missing these tools, which can be inhibitors to getting a job.”

One worker who came to Mountain View Solar from Mountaineer Recovery Center is Josue Perez, who goes by JP to those who know him. He’s worked with the company for around four months after going through the recovery program and said the positive environment has been a major factor in staying clean.

“People will extend their hand to you and they say ‘Here you go. Here’s another chance of a lifetime. Here is what you deserve to get in order for you to get your feet wet,’” Perez said.

McKechnie said he’s already hired three people from the Mountaineer Recovery Center and wants the program to be a continuous pipeline, helping more workers make the transition to a sober life.

“It’s something that most companies don’t do.” McKechnie said. “And we don’t want to shame them into doing it, but what I tell them is, ‘You’re missing something really good. You’re missing some really good people. And everybody deserves a second chance.’”

As a worker, Perez agrees. He said if they give more people going through recovery the opportunity, they’ll be more than willing to rise to the occasion.

“What I was and what I am today, and where I’m pushing to be is what matters to me. It’s what makes the difference, and it’s what makes the person,” Perez said.