Sharing What Works

Alumna Cheryl M. found the right help at the right timeā€”and wants to ensure others will, too

Earlier this year, Cheryl M. offered a matching gift challenge of $10,000 to support the scholarship fund at the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies. Within weeks, 94 donors responded with gifts to quickly fulfill the match.

Thirty-three years later, Cheryl M. recalls, verbatim, the counsel she received. The words had unlocked the door to her recovery.

After seven separate treatments for alcoholism and too-many-to-count stints in detox, Cheryl found herself at Hazelden in Center City, Minnesota, in 1983. When she met with the spiritual care professional assigned to her treatment team, Cheryl began reciting her litany of struggles and failures.

But the chaplain heard something else in Cheryl's suffering. A whisper of hope.

Through the chaplain's careful listening and the expert knowledge of her entire multidisciplinary care team at Hazelden, Cheryl came to believe that a way forward might be possible. The team brought compassion, collaboration, and the latest scientific thinking and therapeutic techniques to her care, says Cheryl. All together, it made all the difference.

"At Hazelden, I finally had the level of expertise that helped me put all of the pieces together so I could get well and stay well," Cheryl shares.

An education in hope

Treatment would be just the beginning of Cheryl's involvement with Hazelden. Cheryl was an inaugural member of the Renewal Center Committee where she met her future husband, Dick.

After attending multiple Second Sunday retreats and continuing education seminars on campus, Cheryl became interested in grief work and spiritual care. Encouraged by the same chaplain who sparked her recovery, Cheryl enrolled in the seminary, pursued a master's degree in theology, and served as a hospital chaplain in the Twin Cities for two years. She returned to Hazelden's Center City campus as a student in the yearlong clergy training program, and her practicum involved working with treatment patients and renewal center guests. Cheryl had found her life's calling: providing Twelve Step spiritual care.

In 1991, Cheryl and her husband established FRESH Renewal Center in her home state of Missouri, and in 1996, Cheryl was named to the Hazelden Foundation Board of Trustees and, later, to the Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction Studies Board of Governors, where she helped to navigate the rigorous process of developing Hazelden's counselor training program into today's fully accredited graduate school.

By the late 1990s, she and other Hazelden leaders could see that the addiction treatment field was advancing in ways that would necessitate a graduate level education for practitioners. Hazelden's multidisciplinary, evidence-based treatment approach and acclaimed clergy and counselor training programs would provide the foundation for building the singular school of higher education.

"We needed to educate the field in our model of care—the importance of addressing all aspects of the disease of addiction, in an integrated way and with individualized attention," says Cheryl.

"The graduate school combines academic training and clinical practice. It's a remarkable culture, where students learn alongside clinicians and patients—where all are engaged and caught up by personal transformation."

An outpouring of gratitude

Earlier this year, Cheryl offered a matching gift challenge of $10,000 to support the graduate school's scholarship fund. Within weeks, 94 donors made gifts to quickly fulfill the match.

Cheryl was delighted but not surprised by the swift and generous outpouring of support for addiction and mental health counselor education.

"Like me, so many people have enormous gratitude when we reflect on the treatment counselor who was there for us, who said just the right thing and helped in just the right way," Cheryl suggests.

With nearly 70 percent of the graduate school's students relying on some level of financial assistance, Cheryl is banking on her investment to pay untold dividends.

"Each new counselor coming out of the graduate school has the potential to help hundreds, if not thousands, of people receive the most-effective treatment for addiction," she points out.

Supporting the graduate school is Cheryl's way of giving back—and paying it forward.


Double Your Grad-itude: Consider making your own matching gift challenge

Through her matching gift challenge, Cheryl M. quickly turned what would have been a $10,000 donation into $20,000 in scholarship funds for students at the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies.

"I was intrigued by the matching gift idea," relays Cheryl. "It seems to have captured other people's imaginations as well," she smiles.

Cheryl's matching gift was promoted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's philanthropy representatives as they made telefund calls. Within weeks, 94 donors had fulfilled the match, pledging an average gift of $106. Inspired to create your own matching gift challenge? Talk with a Foundation gift officer today: 888-535-9485.

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