"If we can see good, then goodness will come," believes Peter Hayden, PhD. So he founded a safe, culturally informed treatment center for the Black community that also provides housing, job opportunities and cultural training. Tune in for this brilliant conversation among old friends, as host William C. Moyers and Dr. Hayden investigate the importance of trust between patients and providers, and discuss how to lay the bedrock for healing and recovery within communities of color.
0:00:13 William Moyers
Here we are again, a new season in our award-winning series of Let's Talk podcasts. Presented to you by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. I'm your host, William C. Moyers. Welcome and thanks for tuning in. Our topic today: finding the turning point. Recovery in communities of color. Our guest, Peter Hayden, a founder, President, and CEO of Turning Point based in Minnesota. Peter, welcome and thanks for joining us today.
0:00:41 Peter Hayden
Thank you so much for having me.
0:00:43 William Moyers
Tell me what made you start Turning Point in 1976?
0:00:49 William Moyers
Because my own recovery and addiction, many African-Americans were going to jail like today. And I just felt was there a better way that we could get this done. I started working for Hennepin County Mental Health/Chemical Health Division with Leonard Bakke. And Bob Olander. And they really gave me an opportunity when I start saying it seems to me, 'cause I was a contract manager, and it seemed to me that shouldn't there be a program of color, [for] people of color? And they bought into that idea. And Hennepin County bought into that idea and I started working along with a guy named Ellis Bullock. And we start putting this plan together along with Henry Sullivan. And we pulled this—and Leonard Bakke gave me the opportunity sitting in the County to pull this piece together. I'll never forget there was a Commissioner I won't say his name, but he was against bringing a program that treated African-Americans together. He said because there will someday be a treatment for gay people. There will be a treatment for baseball people. And how much did he not understand that that's where we are today. And so, we put that program together, it took about two years to pull it together, brought some icons in the community. Along with the Minneapolis Foundation, Honeywell Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and brought that piece together and we bought an old—I call it a raggedy house in North Minneapolis. And it was so interesting, Moyers, that the people in that community who look like me that were African-American didn't want it to happen. Not in my backyard. [Both chuckle]
0:02:48 Peter Hayden
And so, we start off as a halfway house. And because you had to have X amount of nurses and doctors working in there, so we were a halfway house for about a year, year and a half, until we figured it out and talked with the Hennepin County and the State of Minnesota. And we just did—did very, very well. But we also were not ashamed of who we were and the services we got. So we used the Twelve Step working with primarily African-American men and women. 'Cause at that time, it was co-ed.
0:03:32 William Moyers
So Peter, why is culturally specific programming so important in communities of color?
0:03:39 Peter Hayden
Well, because people have to know who they are. They have to feel good about themselves. And you and I are great friends. You and I—but the way we met was somebody African-American said to you, 'You need to meet this guy.' So let's say you come into Turning Point. I don't know who you are, I don't know your history, I don't know how you feel about me, and so, I've got to take time to know who you are. I'm telling you, if I go into a—if I go into Turning Point and people who look like me come into Turning Point, I'm going to feel much more comfortable. Because when I sobered up, I just had to get the program. Many people come in they got anger, a lot of anger. Now the question you might ask is that, well, are there any white people in Turning Point? Of course, because we're talking about culture, not color.
0:04:43 William Moyers
Culture, not color.
0:04:44 Peter Hayden
0:04:45 William Moyers
And we're also talking about the fact that when you bring somebody into your program, it's—there's much more to the treatment that they get than just learning how to stop using substances. There's such—so much more to other dynamics that are involved. Talk about housing and job/career and family and all those pieces that are critical to the recovery process.
0:05:08 Peter Hayden
Let's start with the family. Many of clients we have have interracial or biracial components to their family. So, they—their wife may be Afrocentric or their husband might be African-American or whatever the case is, and that means something because what we're going to do is build the character for those people so when they go home, they understand not only who they married but the fact that it's okay. So, that's the first thing we did. The second thing we did is that you can't stay sober if you're not working. That's the bottom line. You cannot stay sober if you're not bringing money in. So we then hooked up or collaborated with PPL and other programs that did that well. We do chemical health well. But we—it was no use to us trying to then become a job agency. Then, we had to deal with the mental health piece, a co-occurring disorder. Those things. Which comes first? You know, who's had—who has a problem is it the chemical dependency or is it the chemical health? So, we brought in people counselors and people who understand that part. So we built a dynasty around the client versus the client have to build theirselves around us.
0:06:42 William Moyers
Yeah it's interesting. What about housing?
0:06:44 Peter Hayden
Housing yes. That was the first piece we did. Matter of fact, a lot of the housing components now that's going on, that's how we started. Because we were a halfway house and because we were outpatient we then found the housing and so, we bought a couple of apartments and things of this nature so people who were in outpatient who could then get jobs. And that sounds so much like what's happening today. But we did that back in '76. That they could come to Turning Point and still go home because we had housing for them and they could have a job. We wanted to be a whole rather than a part of the person that we were working with. And that's why we also brought in—it was co-ed because many men and women have issues around their mates and their spouses and things of this nature. And so we could work that all at the same time.
0:07:47 William Moyers
So many of us are told when we're finding recovery that we need to change the people, places, and things that were part of the problem to begin with. [Hayden smiles, nods] And yet, Turning Point is right there in the "hood" as you've described it. How does Turning Point do that work in helping people recover when they're still in the same area? They don't have the luxury of moving away, do they?
0:08:12 Peter Hayden
No they don't. And—and William look, here's the deal. [smiles] If you go and do drugs in the community, why can't you sober up in the community? [Moyers nods] Why would you send your child to school across the community and not send the child in the community? The point I'm trying to get to: If I can see goodness, then goodness will come.
0:08:41 William Moyers
So, you're treating people right there where they were using before and they're getting sober and they're going back into that community. They are beacons of hope among the masses.
0:08:51 Peter Hayden
That's right. That's right. And the beauty of that is I mean the unfortunate part of it is that there are people who don't understand what's really going on. So when a client gets slick and says I don't wanna go over there because that's where I used to get high, that means you need to go there.
0:09:12 William Moyers
Aha! [chuckles, nods]
0:09:13 Peter Hayden
You see? But when you have people doing certain types of work, they'll buy into that ignorance.
0:09:22 William Moyers
So Peter as we know, this past summer, the summer of 2020, George Floyd was murdered in the Twin Cities, in Minneapolis specifically. And the racial strife, the civic strife that spilled over in the aftermath was right there, in the neighborhoods that you serve. Tell us how Turning Point dealt with that period of time.
0:09:42 Peter Hayden
It was really interesting and I'm glad you brought that up because we have a big program, outreach program, right on Broadway and 494. And if you go past there, there's pictures all in the windows that are—it's Afrocentric. You see black people, you know what I'm saying? And so we didn't have to put on their 'Black Lives Matter.' We didn't have to put on there 'We are an Afrocentric organization.' Because people—we work hard in the community, we're there, I'm serving generations now of grandparents who went through Turning Point and so their kids are at Turning Point, their grandkids are at Turning Point. So when they came up the street and tore down and burned O'Reilly's which is right next door to one of my program, they said don't mess with that, that's Turning Point. And so, that's the big picture. Then the churches came along and we had people in the churches 24 hours driving around Turning Point. You know? So there wouldn't be any issue. So when you talk about Afrocentric or you talk about sensitivity and you talk about the Twelve Steps and things of this nature, that is what Twelve Step is about.
0:11:07 William Moyers
Mmm. Wow. Wow. Thank you for sharing that, Peter. Before we go, I've gotta ask you. You've talked about finding sobriety in 1973 and by the way we have another podcast that we recorded with you that talks about your own story. So you found recovery in '73, you started Turning Point in '76, you've been running nonstop ever since. What's next for Peter Hayden and what do you hope your legacy will be?
0:11:34 Peter Hayden
Yeah that's interesting you know 'cause it sounds like you're "gearing down." [chuckles] You know, old people's house is right around the corner. But my legacy is going to be keep it the way I am. You know, many people are institutionalized and what I mean by that—they go to universities and things of this nature and all of a sudden they start articulating and they start speaking slow and things of this nature. That's not what I'm about. I am about making sure that when I move down the road, that not only my children understand my plight, but the community understands it. Not that I want buildings with my name on it, but people can say you know I sent my child to Turning Point or I—it was a fellow who was talking to Jeff and he was drinking some liquor and he says you know, you must be Peter Hayden's son and Jeff said yeah. And he said, you know, I'm ashamed that I'm drinking now but it isn't because Turning Point didn't teach me better. That's what I want the legacy of Turning Point and Peter Hayden to be. That I taught you better.
0:12:53 William Moyers
And you sure have. You've taught a lot of people better and that includes me, Peter, over the 25 years or so that I've had the privilege of being part of what you do. Thank you, Peter Hayden, for being with us today. Please join us for another edition of Let's Talk and make sure to tell your family and friends, colleagues and fellow travelers, to check out our podcast too. On behalf of our Executive Producer, Lisa Stangl, we urge you to stay healthy, stay safe, stay the course, and tune in next time for Let's Talk.