Hope Haven, Inc. is working together with Printsocial as part of our Print with Purpose program. This means that you now have the opportunity to donate 5% of your order to this life-changing organization at checkout. Here at Printsocial, we believe it’s important to share these stories so that others can learn more about their causes and the impact they have on our community.
Located on North Tryon Street, The Villages of Hope Haven is well known for its impact in the community. According to the organization’s website, the former motel used to be a hotbed of criminal activity in the early 1990s. Now, the 11.6-acre property is used to transform lives.
“We are a therapeutic community, which means that we work with people who are in early recovery from alcohol and other drugs, which is now called substance abuse disorder,” President and CEO Alice Harrison said. “It is a disease, and our residents can stay here anywhere from six months to two years depending on their individual recovery needs.”
According to the organization’s website, Hope Haven was founded in 1976 by Arietta Black and Alice Trotter, two women who struggled with alcohol and drug addiction. Black and Trotter, both concerned by the lack of residential services available for female alcoholics in early recovery, asked Lance, Inc. for a seed grant after walking door-to-door to collect signatures of support for residential women’s services. Using those funds, Hope Haven leased its first home to five women. Today, the facility averages about 200 residents, male, female, and children at any given time.
During their stay, program participants learn life skills and how to use the tools of recovery so that they can remain in recovery and be independent, responsible citizens when they leave.
According to Harrison, residents receive job training assistance and coaching, job placement, as well as getting housing so that they ultimately can live independently.
Currently, there are seven criteria that a person has to meet to be accepted into the program, with the most important one being that they want to make the commitment for at least six months to be in the program.
Hope Haven has contracts with Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, and about 12 other counties under Cardinal Innovations, a Manage Care Organization that oversees a number of different counties in the area.
When a resident first arrives, he or she is assigned to a clinical counselor and to vocational training programs.
“That may be food service, which serves between 400-500 meals per day, our commercial laundry…we work with about 26 Room In The Inn churches and other agencies…onsite and offsite catering, or our large building small engine repair program,” Harrison said.
The residents’ days are busy and structured. In addition to their vocational training or jobs, they are required to attend five Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, group counseling, a one 1-on-1 counseling meeting per week, life skills programs, and educational programs.
Hope Haven also teaches parenting skills to both custodial and non-custodial parents.
“One of the things that you find with parents in a program like this is that they often haven’t been with their children in a long time, and they’re so excited about having a relationship again that they can’t figure out where the parameters are,” Harrison said. “And they just want to give, give, give to make up for all of that wasted time rather than realize that it’s really important for them to set parameters with the children. And the children want that.”
The organization is dedicated to assisting children of the parents in the program as well.
“We go to schools, we check to make sure things are going well for them in their classes,” she said. “We help the parents learn how to go to PTA meetings—things like that they haven’t had the opportunity to do before. We want them to be equipped with everything that we can give them when they leave.”
A Personal Journey
For Harrison, substance use disorder is a disease that hits close to home.
“I grew up in a great environment where there was no alcohol or drugs,” she said. “But when I married my second husband, neither of us realized he was an active alcoholic at the time.”
This realization, however, brought upon the beginning of Harrison’s career in this field.
“I was offered a job at the treatment center where he had completed treatment, starting out as a Program Secretary, which was good, because I knew nothing about addiction,” she said. “And then four months later, they had the Supervisor of Admissions job open, and I applied for that and did that for seven years. Then, I left there and was asked to apply for the job here.”
Harrison was initially hesitant to apply for the job at Hope Haven.
“Back then, Hope Haven was really small, and people didn’t know about it,” she said. “ It was a big secret. So I really wasn’t sure that it was the job I wanted just because I knew so little about it.”
After a weekend of prayer and contemplation, Harrison accepted the position. She’s been the leading force at Hope Haven for nearly 28 years now.
“It was the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me,” she said. “I did have a husband who had many struggles. He had to have four surgeries in three years. They put him on opiates, and he got very addicted.”
Tragically, her husband committed suicide 15 years ago. Despite this great loss, Harrison has been able to heal through her work at Hope Haven.
“Being here in this environment certainly helped me to be able to work through that,” she said. “It took a long time, needless to say, because I felt like ‘I work in this field; I should have saved him.’ And you can’t do that. It certainly has been beneficial for me to be in this field and to feel like I can hopefully do things to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Watching her husband’s addiction has only strengthened Harrison’s resolve to help those struggling with addiction.
“…It’s really made me involved in all that’s going on with the epidemic of opioids and heroin,” she said. “It’s literally an epidemic. And when you have something where 144 people die a day in the United States [from it], you’ve got to stand up and do something.”
Harrison stressed the hold that addiction can have on a person.
“It’s a multi-faceted disease,” she said. “It’s physical, it’s mental, it’s emotional, and it’s spiritual. And you have to treat the whole disease. You can’t just treat the physical part and think that someone’s going to be successful. They can be dry, but they’re not going to be happy. And if they’re not happy, they’re going to go back to using.”
A Daily Miracle
For Harrison, the most rewarding part of her job is witnessing miracles.
“I see a miracle every day, and you never know what that’ll be,” she said. “You see the change in their eyes; their eyes light up and they get a happiness about them that they didn’t have before and a feeling of freedom. It’s just an amazing transformation to see.”
There are many ways to assist Hope Haven, Inc. through volunteer work and donations. For more information about how you can help, visit http://www.hopehaveninc.org/get-involved/.