Our Sober Living Team Lives Recovery Every Day

Meet the sober living team behind the dream. Real Recovery began with a mission to raise the bar in structured sober living. Our founders built the program they wish existed when they were searching for their own recovery. Everyone at Real Recovery today shares this same vision.

Sober Living Team

Zach Miller, BS, CSAC
Program Director

Zach was the first client to walk through Real Recovery’s doors in 2009. He experienced problems with drugs and alcohol throughout his childhood and at 17, he joined the US Coast Guard as a way to run away from his issues. While there, Zach studied Finance and worked at the US Coast Guard Finance Center. However, after completing four years in the Coast Guard, he realized that his issues with addiction were still present. He went through multiple treatments until he found himself in Asheville, NC, where he met Real Recovery’s founder at a local 12-step meeting. From that moment, he knew his calling was to help others.

After five months of being sober, Zach started working at a behavior wilderness program for troubled adolescents, where he learned that life was the greatest classroom. This led him to take a job as a senior guide at one of the top adult wilderness rehabs. Zach obtained his CSAC (Certified Substance Abuse Counselor) in 2013 and has graduated with a BS. He is currently enrolled in his second year at Wake Forest University in their clinical mental health counseling master’s program. Zach joined the sober living team as the Program Director, meaning he oversees all Real Recovery programs, including traditional, MAT Program and outpatient Services. He views the main responsibility of his position as creating a safe and fun environment for young men striving for sobriety that is supported by clinical services through continuity of care.

Sober Living Team

George Mattfeld
House Manager

George Mattfeld was born in Voorheesville, NY and is the youngest of six children. His father was a wildlife biologist who shared his love and respect for the outdoors with all of his children. His passion led George to attend North Country Community College, in the heart of Adirondack Mountains, where he majored in Wilderness Recreation and Outdoor Leadership.

After college, George’s drug addiction took complete control and almost cost him his life on several occasions. Knowing something had to change, he moved to South Florida and has devoted the last four years of his life to staying sober and helping other alcoholics and drug addicts. This devotion to helping others and his love of the outdoors eventually landed him in Asheville working with the sober living team at Real Recovery.

Sober Living Team

Mathew Lear
Program Assistant

Mat was born and raised in Florida. Though excelling in school and athletics in his youth, he developed a drug and alcohol problem early on. His dream was to go into the military, but he continued to find himself in jails or institutions. After being in and out of many rehabs and substance abuse programs, he discovered Real Recovery. Though he loved where he was from, he took the chance and packed up and moved. He fell in love with the fellowship and camaraderie that Real had to offer. After feeling so hopeless, he soon found himself with multiple years sober and a productive member of society. He then jumped at the opportunity to work for the sober living team that helped save his life. He now strives to better himself each day, and give this same opportunity to the new clients that walk through these doors.

Sober Living Team

Lucas Denson
Admin/Marketing Assistant

Lucas Denson was born and raised in Charleston, SC. When he was four months old, his parents finally walked into their first 12 Step Meeting where they decided to pick up white chips. From 4 months until his teenage years Lucas would attend weekly NA meetings with his parents. His parents repeatedly opened their house up to people in need of recovery. Witnessing his parents and others paths to recovery led Lucas to have a good foundation and understanding of what it means to live a sober life. After finishing over four years in the Coast Guard, Lucas and his wife decided to move from San Jose, CA to Asheville, NC to help start a church with family and friends. Lucas is a full time student at Montreat College, where he attends night classes in pursuit of getting his degree in Science of Management.

Lucas finds joy in working behind the scenes and creating environments that produce fun and healthy community. Lucas went from being named after his father’s drug dealer, to being raised in 12 step meetings, to working drug interdiction in the Coast Guard, and finally to the sober living team of Real Recovery, where he gets to help bring fun and structured sober living to young men his age.

Sober Living Team

Kyle Thislethwaite
Program Assistant

Kyle was raised out west in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He grew up surrounded by a loving family that would do anything to see him prosper. He played sports as a child and found music to be a passion of his later on in his school career. Around the time that high school started, he was noticing that he was slightly different than the rest of his school mates. He preferred to drink, use drugs and cause mischief rather than focusing on his school work or his music. He felt like regardless of what he did, he kept distancing himself from the outside world.

Throughout high school he became more passionate about music but he couldn't keep himself out of rehabs or jails and he definitely couldn't put down the drugs. At the end of high school, after demonstrating that he could not maintain a job and after proving to his family that he could not stop using, he agreed to go to a wildness rehab. After the rehab, he was flown out to a halfway house in North Carolina that ended up saving his life. That house was Real Recovery. After many difficult life changes he finally decided to start taking suggestions and to start doing the work that was necessary to stay sober. Through that work he has found another passion of his: to help other addicts and alcoholics recover from the seemingly helpless grips of addiction.

Sober Living Team

Paul DeAngelo
House Manager

Paul was born and raised in a small town in New Jersey. He grew up with a loving family and everything he needed and wanted, but something always felt a bit off. Although he did well in school as an adolescent and was accepted into a prestigious college prep high school, he began to feel like even more of an outcast over time. Paul turned to drugs and alcohol as a way to fit in and feel better about himself, and for a long time, they worked. Paul was accepted into his first choice college but quickly returned home after a semester full of heavy drug use and alcoholic drinking. When he arrived back home, New Jersey was seeing a large resurgence in heroin use.

After trying the drug, Paul felt like he was the person he always wanted to be. Years of heroin use and theft destroyed his personal and family relationships and he continued on a downward spiral until his mother found him overdosed in her basement in August of 2013. Paul was sent to detox and then made his way down to Asheville to a program called Real Recovery. Here, Paul learned the life skills and a spiritual program of action that completely turned his life around. Paul found purpose and motivation while learning to have fun in a drug-free environment. After about three years of sobriety, Paul was contacted by his former program leaders at Real Recovery about an opportunity for employment to join the sober living team, and more importantly, an opportunity to give back to the program that had helped him. Paul now tries to teach young men in early sobriety the valuable life lessons that helped him grow into the individual he is today: a sober and happy man. Paul was given the gift of a life beyond his wildest dreams. He now enjoys playing paintball competitively, riding motorcycles, and giving back in the AA community.

Sober Living Team

Cory Griffis
House Manager

Cory’s passion and understanding in the world of recovery comes from a long journey in battling addiction and alcoholism in the lives of friends and family members, and through a twenty-plus year history of drug addiction and alcoholism and attempts at recovery through different forms of treatment and therapy.

Cory finally found freedom from addiction through the twelve step process. He regularly gives talks at treatment centers, other facilities, and recovery functions. His knowledge of twelve step literature is extensive and he runs a weekly workshop on the spiritual experience of taking the steps. He is a member in good standing of Alcoholics Anonymous and sponsors new members consistently.

His education background is in Philosophy and English Literature from the University of New Mexico. He is certified in wilderness first aid and has worked as a wilderness recovery guide. He is also a certified canoe instructor and has extensive knowledge of various sports and leisure activities that provide clients a variety of options for different sober activities.

He is working toward receiving his Certified Substance Abuse Counselor designation and is a certified Peer Support Specialist, trained in supporting clients on medication assisted treatment.

What makes Cory effective in working with clients is his unwavering compassion expressed in a bold, truthful manner, and his ability to navigate the many paths one may take in healing. He is committed to supporting each client find a path to health and freedom from the cycle of addiction.

Sober Living Team

Peter Godfrey
Clinical Coordinator

Peter Godfrey possesses a rich work history with substance use disorders, mental health and agency management. He strongly prefers a genuine approach to therapy working as a helper first. Using a systematic process of discovery, focusing on successes, he collaborates with his clients to find strategies that work well to create a healthy lifestyle. He prefers measurable and observable recovery goals that are as “real” as possible.

He received his education from Western Carolina University in the Social Work discipline. He has been working with at-risk populations since 1998, and in the clinical setting for nine years. He brings significant experience in diverse settings such as wilderness therapy, family, court-ordered, child protective services. His therapy clientele has represented the entire spectrum of mental health and substance use disorders. He has a specialization in experiential therapeutic activities that challenge an individual to confront feelings and thoughts that are congruent to those that they will face in recovery.

Peter is originally from Fort Pierce, Florida although he has been in the western NC for about 15 years. He enjoys backcountry sports and being a father of a small child. Peter utilizes his personal life story in his clinical work when appropriate, but in measured amounts. He is a helper in the truest sense; service to others is a lifestyle that he embraces.

Sober Living Team

Ashley Butawan

Ashley spent the first 18 years of her life in St. Louis, MO and Memphis, TN until going to college and completing a B.A. in Psychology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. After graduating she moved to North Carolina and joined AmeriCorps to develop free programs for underprivileged, at-risk youth. Recognizing she wanted to help others in other ways, she began working in a residential treatment center in Asheville, NC providing direct care and experiential learning opportunities for high school-aged girls’ healing and growth. In that same time, she completed a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Appalachian State University.

Early on Ashley recognized the various ways that people around her struggled—whether it was to cover basic needs of food and shelter or resorting to substances to ease their suffering. She saw the inherent value in people and wanted to help others see it in themselves. Through self-awareness and a desire for something more, Ashley is continuously determined to push beyond that which has become comfortable for her. She sees her position as one in which she helps others to cultivate awareness of themselves so that they can make a more intentional decision as to how they want to go about their lives. She utilizes modalities based in mindfulness, values, and intention, specifically training in Gestalt Therapy through the Appalachian Gestalt Therapy Institute.

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