Dennis S. Farmer, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Legacy Village, LLC, was raised in Shafter, California, a small farming town in the Central Valley area of the State. At 24, he took an entry level position with the State of California and was promoted through the budgetary and accounting fields to become the Head of Accounting for Kern Valley State Prison. Experiences during his tenure included the activation of two prisons, management of budgets and fiscal policy, coordination with legislative accounting and budgetary affairs, internal control development and implementation, financial security audits, executive level administration of accounting, finance, and budget policy.
Through his late 20’s a struggle with alcohol became more pronounced, and by his early 30’s alcohol began to affect his personal and professional life. Mr. Farmer’s addiction to alcohol had resulted in two failed marriages and was taking an increasing toll on his professional life and personal health. It was here that he entered rehab for the first time but was clearly not convinced he had a drinking problem. A second failed attempt at sobriety would lead him on a dangerous and destructive two-year path, that would almost cost his life. At 135 pounds, with serious health troubles, Mr. Farmer found his way into treatment a third and final time. “I truly began a real process of recovery, embracing the concepts of recovery and most importantly, reconnecting with my faith in God,” said Mr. Farmer. “I was lost, and I knew without help I wasn’t going to make it much longer.”
It was during this final treatment experience, that despite sound advice against making long-term plans, Mr. Farmer had a vision for more accessible and affordable care in his own community. Born of his personal experience having a difficult time finding help, he felt led to the design and building of Legacy Village. “It is my belief that my experience was not solely, or even predominantly for me – but rather so I would be equipped to help others” said Mr. Farmer, who went on, “God has saved me from this affliction, literally from the threshold of death for a reason, and that reason wasn’t to keep it to myself!”
Legacy Village soon became a primary professional pursuit. Since that time, it has developed into an exemplary model for addiction treatment and recovery services. “We are proud of our commitment to individualized care, and we are proud to be part of so many success stories,” said Mr. Farmer. “It is with an unapologetic faith in God, and a daily adherence to the principles of recovery, that I remain sober – just for today, and that I’m able to actively participate in the work of Legacy Village, and in life.” According to Mr. Farmer, “Through the services we offer I am able to give back, give away the solution that I found to others who still suffer. We’re not just providing help or a way to get clean or sober – we’re giving people a chance to recreate a Legacy, for them and their families.”
With the success of the flagship location of Legacy Village, LLC – the Oregon Street Recovery Center – doors opened and the opportunity to relocate was presented in late 2020. The new location, with more than 25 acres of land and ample therapeutic spaces was an answer to prayer and soon, with some bittersweet moments, the entire operation was relocated to Nipomo, California and renamed appropriately from “Legacy Village – Oregon Street” to simply “Legacy Village”. Mr. Farmer’s love of Country, and his unwavering gratitude for those who served this Nation, led to a fundamental shift in program philosophy in 2020. It was at that time Legacy Village became an exclusive veteran and active-duty only facility. In his words, “it is a way to give back – to be of service to those who have served.”
In January 2022, Legacy Village secured its new and permanent location on 10 Acres in Arroyo Grande, California where a remodeled, state-of-the-art facility is under construction. The new facility is slated to open by the end of 2022.
Today Mr. Farmer is remarried to wife Erica, and together they are raising a blended family with three daughters, Leila, Alyssa and Emily and son Anthony. Mr. Farmer, in addition to his leadership of Legacy Village is an active member of the Vanguard Christian Center Board of Directors. He remains active in the recovery community and advocacy for increased access to drug and alcohol treatment for our service members.
Justen Wiggins is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who previously worked with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as a psychotherapist. He obtained his Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California in 2018 and his BS in liberal studies from Excelsior University, NY. Mr. Wiggins has worked and volunteered in many clinical settings, including substance use and MAT facilities, at-risk housing and support, and multiple Veteran centered services. He is now providing support for first responders and their families through partnering with local NPOs 911 At Ease International and One805. He interned for a year with Peoples Self Help Housing, creating, and actioning a Veterans support group for identified Veteran tenants. He is also a long-time volunteer with Operation Surf, since 2016. As an alumnus of the program, he now assists as Veteran support for participants and advises the organization on best practices concerning mental health and wellbeing incorporated in staff training and program operations. He additionally volunteers as a mentor for the San Luis Obispo Veterans Treatment Court, providing support for Veterans being afforded the opportunity to participate in the program.
Mr. Wiggins is a 20-year retired military veteran. He served 4 years in the Marine Corps (1987-1991) then later the remaining service was in Nevada and retiring from the California Army National Guard as a Logistics Officer. He served in Iraq 2004-05 as a convoy escort team leader providing security for convoys for over 20,000 miles. Other positions held included Training NCO, Recruiter, Field Executive Officer 2010 border mission, State Excess Property Manager, and Company Commander. Justen continues to serve past his 2017 retirement volunteering in the California State Guard as a Behavioral Health Officer.
Justen enjoys keeping track of his 4 children and 7 grandchildren. His passions are riding and working on Harley Davidsons and surfing. Justen is a California native growing up in the San Gabriel Valley. Life travels and the military have taken him many places across the globe. Home port is now Morro Bay, CA for Justen, his 9-year-old son and Archibald, their 2-year-old Queensland heeler.
Mr. Adam White was born in Los Angeles, California and raised in a military family. Growing up primarly on military institutions from Yakota Air Station and Johnson Air Force Base in Japan to Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana. Mr. White graduated from Cabrillo High School in 1984 and went on to Taft College, in Taft, California. In 1989 he began working with our at-risk youth population, including at the California Youth Authority in Paso Robles, California. Mr. White expanded his career to include working with special needs populations and spent time with the Vocational Training Center in Santa Maria. After a relocation to San Antonio, Texas, he continued a carrier with the special needs population and began working with the Wounded Warrior program. Returning to California in 2010, Mr. White returned to working with our communities at-risk and underprivileged youth. Mr. White cites his father’s example as the driving force for his compassion, concern, and service to his community and to those in need.
David “Doc” Oliver was raised in the tiny town of Orcutt, on California’s Central Coast. He earned the nickname Doc from stitching up wounded soldiers and civilians alike during his deployments to Afghanistan as a U.S. Navy medic. Doc spent nearly two years in the Middle East until a tragic attack took the lives of three of his comrades. Doc was medically retired and struggling with the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Docs mental and emotional limits were taxed when, at just 57 years old, his mother passed away from cancer. “All my emotions and mental compression sort of hit me like a tidal wave,” he said of his mother’s passing. His heart for helping others was something instilled in him by his mother, not just other Veterans, but all people. “I think I was trying to be tough for my wife and family with the military stuff and hiding it way down inside. Once my mother passed, so much emotion overcame me, and it was almost too much to bear.”
According to Doc, while the deployment in Afghanistan was just a short period in his life, the trauma of his service and the loss of his mother had the potential to be catastrophic. So, he turned to non-traditional help for both, music. Music was in his family, starting with his grandfather, and in it, Doc found an escape – and therapy. “Music gave me a way out; writing gave me a way to let is seep out.”
Doc continues to write and perform, not only for his own therapeutic benefit, but for others as well. During this time, Doc had been working as an armed security office for a local nuclear power plant, and while his music gave him an outlet and an opportunity to help others, it wasn’t enough.
In October 2022, Doc joined the Legacy Village team as our Veterans Services Manager. His passion for helping others, especially Veterans, made him an ideal fit for this dynamic and challenging position. The Veterans Services Office of Legacy Village handles everything from intake coordination, Veterans experience matters, connection to outside service and successful transition and discharge. Doc’s compassion, dedication to a job well done and attention to detail are true assets to the Veterans we serve. In Doc Oliver, the clients of Legacy Village have a true Advocate.
Doc continues to live in Orcutt, California and is married to his wife of 11 years. Together they have three children, aged 4, 6 & 8.
Micki Walker is a native Californian who attended junior and senior high school in Washington State. Upon returning to California, she began her journey through higher education where she obtained two Associate Degrees, in Criminal Justice from Cerritos College and Human Services from Alan Hancock College. Her pursuit of higher education did not stop there. Ms. Walker obtained a bachelor’s degree in sociology and master’s degree in psychology from Chapman University. Ms. Walker returned to an alma mater, Alan Hancock College where she teaches in the Drug and Alcohol Studies program.
Prior to obtaining her LMFT, Ms. Walker spent more than 17 years managing drug and alcohol treatment centers in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, and San Luis Obispo. During her career, she focused heavily on access to treatment courts, including Drug Court, Mental Health Treatment Court, Dual Diagnosis Treatment Court, and Veterans Treatment Court. She currently serves as a board member for a women’s sober living facility in the Five Cities area of the Central Coast. Her passion and commitment are to the recovery of those who struggle with substance abuse and addiction.
With the birth of her son, almost forty years ago, Ms. Walker relocated from the Los Angeles area to the Central Coast. Today, she enjoys the time spent with her three grandchildren, along with motorcycle riding, traveling, and attending rock concerts with her partner of 33 years.
Ms. Walker brings a wealth of experience to the Legacy Village team. Her deep involvement with treatment courts allows us to better serve justice involved clients. Her decades of experienced, compassionate, and considerate care delivery are an asset to the team.
Raymond Fisher, Clinical Supervisor for Legacy Village, grew up in Bakersfield, CA. Much of his youth was spent in active addiction, and as a consequence, Raymond spent many years in-and-out of prison or jail. At age 35 Mr. Fisher began a life of recovery, and through working a program of healing and positive action, he went from being a menace to society, to a thriving productive member of the community.
Mr. Fisher was the first employee hired at Legacy Village, LLC – Oregon Street Recovery Center, the first facility opened by our company. For more than six years he has worked diligently to pursue a higher education and a better understanding of addiction treatment. After obtaining his certification in drug and alcohol counseling, Mr. Fisher was promoted to Counselor. More recently, with the opening of Legacy Village, he promoted again to Clinical Supervisor.
A passionate advocate for recovery, Mr. Fisher brings unique experience and insight to the clients he serves. He is a wealth of information and resources and is truly dedicated to the healing power which lay in a life of recovery.
Dennie Watson, Spiritual Director for Legacy Village is the Founder, and Senior Pastor of Vanguard Christian Center in Bakersfield, California. Pastor Watson was raised in Kern County and has devoted his life to community outreach through ministry, sports, coaching and life skills training. Throughout his life, coaching has taken a prominent role allowing him to mentor kids of all ages through a variety of sports. This passion provided the inspiration for a unique combination of sports and ministry. Pastor Watson’s vision of a truly integrated church with respect to community, sports and preaching the Gospel came together in with the recent opening of Vanguards Field of Dreams. This much needed sports facility allows all members of the community, especially children, to have a safe, healthy and positive place to engage in a variety of sporting events. It also allows the team at Vanguard to fellowship with the community and engage with those in need.
The broad scope of Pastor Watson’s experiences has made him an invaluable member of the Legacy Village team. His coaching experience gives him an approachable nature, allowing our clients the freedom and ease to explore spiritual questions. His understanding an patience with those who struggle has led many clients to realize their own need for a deeper spiritual connection.
Anthony Giaquinta graduated from Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California with an associate degree before entering the Psychiatric Technician program. After successful completion, Mr. Giaquinta worked trained at, and worked for, the Atascadero State Hospital. The following 12 years allowed him to work with populations dramatically impacted by mental and behavioral healthcare concerns, participating in the overall treatment of patients from admission through discharge. Mr. Giaquinta has worked with extremely acute mentally and behaviorally compromised patients. He has focused extensively on the oversight of specific functions and operations of a mental and behavioral healthcare facilities. Mr. Giaquinta is from a proud family of Veterans, which has inspired his drive and determination at Legacy Village. He is married to his wife Janet, of 9 years and has a 7-year-old son, Leo.
Bill Edmonds is a retired U.S. Special Forces officer, author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert on the emotional, psychological, and spiritual impacts of military service. He writes and speaks on the “invisible wounds of War”; how subjective experiences change our entire body, which includes our brain, often impairing our innate capacity for enjoyment, engagement, self-control, and trust. His focus is on methods, practices, and pursuits that build resilience and promote long-term healing, especially those that engage physiology as a pathway to attentional agency, emotional-intelligence, and self-awareness.
Mr. Edmonds is a retired Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel, a veteran of our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Kosovo, and East, Central and North African, and a Purple Heat and Bronze Star with Valor Device recipient. He is the author and contributor of multiple books and essays, to include the critically acclaimed memoir God Is Not Here, the anthology War and Moral Injury: A Reader, essays The Ugly American in Iraq and After Moral Injury, the published King’s College of London thesis A Compassionate Nudge, and the Apple+ TV docuseries TheLine. Bill is an internationally recognized expert on the emotional, psychological, and spiritual impacts of military service: how overwhelming subjective experiences change the body, which includes the brain, impairing our innate capacity for enjoyment, engagement, self-control, and trust. Bill is an ordained minister, a spiritual teacher in the ancient tradition of Vipassana, and a certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher, Yoga Nidra/iREST instructor, and psychedelic integration specialist. Bill also began the non- profit The MindfulWriting Project which is dedicated to creating and offering free-of-charge a therapeutic writing process based on key mindfulness teachings and principles. Bill offers Legacy Wellness Center clients Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga Nidra instruction while also pursuing his licensure as a Clinical Social Worker at the University of Southern California. Bill’s energy and focus are on many and varied practices and pursuits that train attentional agency as pathways to emotional balance, mental harmony, and lasting happiness. I live in Cambria with my wife, Cheryl, and our two daughters, Natalie, and Ava.
Van Curaza, surfer for 49 years, is the founder of Van Curaza Surf School. Once a professional surfer, Van has dedicated his life to helping others through surfing. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including ESPN and Southwest Airlines Spirit magazine, and has earned him the first annual Blue Mind Award. He has recently been featured in the award-winning Netflix documentary, RESURFACE. Additionally, his work has been featured in the first study of its kind on surfing as an alternative treatment for veterans with PTSD by Dr. Russell Crawford, “The Impact of Ocean Therapy on Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
In addition to creating Van Curaza Surf School Van founded the nonprofit Operation Surf (Amazing Surf Adventures) to help at-risk youth, wounded military men and women, and many other individuals in need. Having experienced his own struggles, Van turned to surfing throughout his life as a means to stay positive. With hopes of being of service and passing on this positive experience, he set out to help others.