Knowledge is power and we need to educate children and families about the impact of drugs and alcohol. So if society and our political systems would invest in recovery instead of criminalizing addiction, we would save a lot of people and a lot of money.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing “Hope Dealer” Lucy Hall, the founder of Mary Hall Freedom House, one of the nation’s most successful women’s addiction treatment facilities.
She is featured in a new documentary, HOPE VILLAGE. Through raw storytelling with an honest lens, this important film illustrates what it takes to survive addition, one woman at a time. HOPE VILLAGE will be available digitally beginning May 12, 2020 via Amazon, Films Media Group/Infobase, Hoopla and more. Educational and non-theatrical screening licenses are available through Soundview Media Partners. The DVD will also be available on Amazon (https://amzn.to/2XF8NN9) and wherever fine DVD’s are sold.
Lucy Hall’s mother died of alcoholism when she was six. The impression her mother left in her life inspired Lucy to reach out to women who suffer from addiction and women with children. She desired to help bridge the gap from troubled lives and help women become independent and self-sufficient. Today, her dream has become a reality with Mary Hall Freedom House (MHFH), named in memory of her mother. Through a community of sisterhood, Lucy coaches women to free themselves from the past and live every day for the future. Over 10,000 women and children have achieved recovery through Mary Hall Freedom House since founded in 1996; by empowering them to end the cycle of generational addiction, poverty and homelessness.
A native New Yorker, Lucy graduated from Shorter University with a degree in Human Services and holds national credentials as a substance abuse counselor. Lucy is the recipient of many awards that include: the 2002 Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader Award, the 2003 Mary Magdalene Award, 2003 Atlanta Magazine “Women Making a Mark” Award, the 2006 Turner Broadcasting Systems Pathfinder Award, the 2008 Leadership Sandy Springs Award, the 2010 All-State Statue to Greatness Award, the 2011 City of Sandy Springs MLK Award, the 2013 Restorative Justice Center “Community Warrior Award,” the 2014 Turknett Leadership Character Award, and the 2016 Heart of Giving Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Lucy currently lives in Atlanta, GA and is the proud mother of two children, Mary and Christian.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
What brought me to this specific career path was my life experience. By the age of 13 I had a mother, a grandmother and an aunt who died of alcoholism and two brothers who had overdosed. So when I started using drugs I was fortunate enough to not have to die from it, but I found recovery and therefore I share my experience, strength and hope and live recovery out loud.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
It’s the story of the blessings. Everything I’ve ever needed to start Mary Hall and everything I needed as I journey through the life of Mary Hall has always come in God’s time. I remember one of our first miracles. When we had enough women in the program to start doing meetings, we needed chairs and the next day a stack of chairs appeared outside the office with a note. From that day to this, I have witnessed God provide miracle after miracle even in the lives of the people we serve.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
It wasn’t funny then but of course you look back on it. So here I am starting the company, I think maybe a year or two in, I thought I had to go back to school and get my degree.
At the same time I was working another job, starting Mary Hall, and raising a child. I found out really quickly that trying to be a mother, a CEO, an employee, and now a student, wasn’t going to work.
So it was interesting because as I began the organization, me and one other person, Connie ran the whole show. I enrolled to go back to college and my first or second night in class I sat there crying because I was so overwhelmed wondering what I was doing there. The next day I went and talked to Mr. D who was the same guy who had given me 1,500 to start the company. And he told me the story of Benjamin Franklin and he told me I should hire smart people who have what you don’t have. ( A phd, and lcsw, etc) You’re the inventor and they can help you be successful. Years later I did go back and complete my degree and I still employ some smart people
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
Yes people are changing their lives by living recovery out loud. Women, children, veterans and families are transformed by recognizing that they don’t have to die using drugs, being homeless, or living in poverty. So yes people are changing their lives daily and living recovery out loud. Families are reunified, communities are impacted, people are recovering and becoming productive members of society.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
I can tell you about ten thousand stories. The most recent is; with covid we’ve gone to technology utilizing zoom and teams meetings for our groups and individual sessions. I do a particular spirituality meeting with the women on Monday called Monday Morning Motivation Moments. About two weeks ago during the group one of the women said she came in right before shelter in place orders and with tears in her eyes she said, ‘Miss Lucy i thank god and you for this program because had I not come into Mary Hall Freedom House, I’m sure I would have either died from covid or overdose.’
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Absolutely. We’ve got to change the stigma of addiction and we’ve got to shine the light on recovery. Nobody grows up wanting to be an addict. If I had known there was a way out or I had been educated about addiction earlier on, my life may have been different. Knowledge is power and we need to educate children and families about the impact of drugs and alcohol. So if society and our political systems would invest in recovery instead of criminalizing addiction, we would save a lot of people and a lot of money. Another factor is the burden of addiction on our healthcare system.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I define leadership as by one who is willing to serve and be a lifelong learner.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
The first thing would be: All things take time. Second, be clear and true to your mission. Third, be careful of those who come thinking they’re going to fix things that are not broken, wolves in sheep’s clothing. Fourth, allow people to do the job you pay them for. Lastly, as the CEO and Founder, self-care is important and you have to learn to clock out.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Hey, it is what we’re doing now. Share the hope, when people are hopeful, they can keep moving forward. My product is hope. So I would say #sharethehope. And creating Hope Dealers to help people live the life they deserve. The hope is the movement. I would love to start because I always believe that, you know, hope is that that thing that we all need, hope is lacking. Hope. I can dream. I can get through my circumstances and situations.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is, “KEEP IT MOVING” because we only get one life, one day at a time. Trust me, this too shall pass.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Tyler Perry. Tyler Perry is definitely a brother who has always inspired me from where he came from to what he has done and continues to do. He’s a man of God. He’s an icon in our community. I’ve always enjoyed his entertainment and am always amazed by his impact in the community. My Pastor influences me too but I can have breakfast with him if I call him
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Hopevillage.com @hopevillageproject on instagram @hopevillagefilm on facebook
Thank you so much for these great insights!