LaCresha's Story: Serving Underserved Communities

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This is exactly what my family needed, but we didn't know it existed.


LaCresha often wonders how things might have turned out differently for her family if they'd known about a place like Hazelden Betty Ford. 

She came to Hazelden Betty Ford's Plymouth, Minnesota, site as an employee several years ago, knowing very little about addiction treatment or recovery. "I fell in love with the place," she says. "This is exactly what my family needed, but we didn't know it existed."

She has made it her personal mission to make sure that more people, especially in communities of color, have access to treatment for addiction and mental health challenges. "I love spreading the word," she says. "And along with that are my efforts to make sure Hazelden Betty Ford is ready to welcome people from diverse backgrounds and offer them equal access to help."

A big challenge for people of color who seek treatment for addiction is the lack of treatment professionals "who look like them," she notes. While others have found the situation upsetting, LaCresha saw an opportunity. "I can't necessarily fix the issue," she says. "But I can help. And it's time to help in a different way."

LaCresha enrolled in the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School, where she's studying to become an addiction and mental health counselor.

For 25 years, the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School has been at the forefront of educating professionals working in treatment and recovery. Thanks to generous supporters, the school is driving innovation in the field and expanding opportunities for talented and idealistic students like LaCresha. 

Going back to school wasn't easy for LaCresha, who continues to work full-time and is a busy wife and mother. But she felt that earning a master's degree was a chance to be of service in a greater way. She's especially grateful for the scholarships she received that helped make her dream a reality.

"The Graduate School sets up its students for success in many ways," says LaCresha. "I feel like I'm truly being supported along this journey." Best of all, she says, "It's like I've stepped into an amazing group of fellow students who are absolutely committed to saving the lives of people they haven't yet met."

As she juggles her work responsibilities and her schoolwork, she is proud to know that her efforts are part of something so much larger.  

"It's like that famous movie line: If you build it, they will come," she says. "I'm doing this now to help other families like mine. This is my chance to better the world." 

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