Hazel Jones understands. She knows the desperation of chasing a high. She knows the relentless stress of being without a home. She knows how hard and cold rock bottom can be. But Hazel also knows how it feels to find help and hope. And for the past decade, she has worked each day as an admissions clerk at Central City Concern’s Hooper Detox Center to offer that feeling to those waiting for medical detoxification treatment.
“This is something I know about. I’ve been in their shoes.”
Hazel’s is the first face each person who walks through the doors of Hooper Detox sees. For potential patients, she answers questions and soothes their anxiety. For medical staff, Hazel builds charts of all current patients. For the program, she performs many of the administrative tasks that keeps Hooper running smoothly. Through it all, Hazel remains uncannily calm, upbeat, and kind. It’s no surprise that Hazel’s approach to her job is that “it gets better when I walk in the door each morning.”
As someone who has been clean and sober for the last 16 years, Hazel has been thriving in a life rebuilt on the foundation of sobriety. But she hasn’t forgotten the powerlessness and marginalization many people struggling with homelessness and addiction experience.
“Everybody has their own opinion of who our patients are. Some of our patients are incredible people who just got caught up and just need some help to get on the right track.”
Hazel never fails to be amazed by the transformations that take place even during patients’ short stays at Hooper: patients look healthier, their attitudes improve, and most importantly, Hazel says, they see possibilities. Once in a while, someone she used to use with a lifetime ago will walk into Hooper and recognize Hazel. The reunion can be bittersweet, but Hazel remains optimistic.
“They see that I’m clean and doing something with my life. It gives them a little hope. I did it. I hope that helps them believe that they can, too.”
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Hazel's story is part of Central City Concern's week-long series to celebrate National Health Center Week by highlighting just a few of the many extraordinary people who make the work of CCC's health centers possible. The week of August 9 through August 15 is a time to recognize the services and contributions of health centers that provide affordable, high quality, cost effective health care to medically vulnerable and underserved people throughout the United States.
Learn more about CCC and National Health Center Week by reading a post introducing this series from Leslie Tallyn, CCC's Chief Clinical Operations Officer.