BATON ROUGE, La. (BR Proud) — In honor of Women’s History Month, BR Proud and Healthy Blue will spotlight four women, over the next four weeks, who have been nominated by the community as “Remarkable Women.”

Emily George Tilley is the third finalist of 2021. She has devoted her life to assisting others battling addiction by giving them insight into how friends and family cope. “Even though my mom had an addiction, she was still a good mom,” said Tilley, “but we struggled financially.”

She has a lot of compassion for substance abuse. It’s very personal for her.

Kirshika George, Case Manager, O’Brien House

Staying transparent about her experience growing up, Tilley has worked for nearly a decade helping adults recover from addiction at O’Brien House. “I’ve been at O’Brien House for eight-and-a-half years,” said Tilley. “My mom was actually a client here back in 2004. She suffered with an addiction for 16 years of my life.” The recovery center offers a variety of treatment programs, both residential and outpatient, for those working toward drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation.

“My interactions with the clients are different because I know where they’re coming from,” said Tilley. “I watched both of my parents struggle with addiction my whole life and I can give them the insight of how their families feel.”

She has rapport with all of our clients because her mother was a client of O’Brien House. She sees a part of her mother in everyone that comes through O’Brien House.

Todd Hamilton, Executive Director, O’Brien House

Tilley said O’Brien House changed her mother’s life and started her family’s healing process. That revelation inspired Emily to return to the same organization she had come to know as a young woman. “When I went to graduate school to become a social worker and a job became available, I had to come here,” said Tilley.

Tilley’s co-workers and supervisor said her impact on the service center is unparalleled. “There’s no one that doesn’t like Emily,” said Outpatient Services Coordinator, Debra Thomas.

Todd Hamilton is the executive director of O’Brien House and said he is aware of the value Tilley brings to the organization. “She has to balance not only the 24 hour a day responsibility for the clinical department of O’Brien House, but she also has a family, and in what spare time she has, she’s working on her doctorate and she does a lot of other volunteer things within the community,” said Hamilton.

It taught her how to be independent, how to be self-sufficient and how to be a go-getter and that’s what she’s doing.

Deanderia Gremillion (Counselor, O’Brien House) on Tilley’s experience as the child of parents battling addiction

Tilley is now married and has one daughter. She said the love from her support system, especially her in-laws, has motivated her to stay on course and continue with her life’s mission. “I just want people to remember me for my compassion. I do what I do because I love what I do,” said Tilley. “I love helping people and I don’t see myself doing anything else but helping people for the rest of my life.”

O’Brien House offers an on-going intern program for those interested in working in the field of social work, as it pertains to substance abuse. Assistant director Rosalind Sibley said the program has become very popular — in part because of Tilley’s role with the organization. “Every school is now trying to get their interns to come through this program,” said Sibley, “and you have a limit, but it’s because of Emily and her leadership.”