by Nick Roes
I became an addiction professional by accident. There was no history of abuse by me or anyone close to me. No burning desire, really, to be much of anything. I was unemployed and stuck in the middle of no place.
I am eternally grateful that I was in the perfect place at the perfect time. A local residential rehab, with a school on site, found out I had a degree in social studies and was a certified teacher. A Sr. Maureen Conway, called me with a fantastic offer: Full time employment as a teacher for $17,000 a year, without any free periods or summer vacation. And I’d also have to work Wednesday evenings for no additional pay.
No. She wasn’t kidding. And, yes, I accepted her offer. I figured I would do it for two years, like the Peace Corps, and then get a real job. Besides, I’d be the only guy at an all female program with all female staff. That would more than make up for the $20,000 below market rate I was being paid.
Today I am Executive Director of that same program, and I can’t imagine any better job in the world. We have the luxury of time at our program, and when people graduate they are very different from when they came. Pain and fear and loneliness eventually give way to hope, and sometimes even joy. Watching this process is one of the greatest privileges in the world.
Many people feel empty, or that their job is meaningless. Some people search their whole lives to find meaning, and never succeed. I’m lucky. To find meaning I just have to drive around the block to work at New Hope Manor. My life is filled with the joy of watching the world’s bravest women reclaim their lives. And, every once in a while, thinking I had a little something to do with it.