'12, BA, Social Work
Harbor House 300 Beds Inc.
Constance Brooks is a role model to many. As program director at Harbor House/300 Beds, Inc., she works with homeless and chemically dependent women to sustain their recovery, gain self-esteem, self-sufficiency and permanent housing. Her own story of transformation inspires these women to secure a place in society as productive, working citizens and oftentimes, to reunite with their children and loved ones.
“One of the reasons I pursued a social work degree was to help people turn failure into achievement rather than letting their obstacles overcome them. My own personal struggles and triumphs inspired me to uplift others, to provide and give them examples of how to achieve their dreams,” says Connie.
Moving from Chicago, IL to Toledo in 1987 to be closer to family, the self-described shy person with low self-esteem allowed addiction to rule her life. It was during Connie’s pivotal stay at the Lucas County Correctional Treatment Facility that her outlook changed.
“It was then that I asked God to show me my next sign. A gentleman came in to share his story that weekend. It began with him getting high and then slowly escalated to addiction, crime and incarceration in the penitentiary. His decision to seek assistance at a halfway house was the beginning to his successful rehabilitation. It encouraged me to do the same. I could not wait to speak with Miss Love, a counselor on the unit. The following Monday, I requested an interview at the Harbor House. On the way to the interview, I noticed we were driving towards a familiar area. I soon discovered it was in my neighborhood – just across the street from where I had been hanging out!”
Connie stayed the course and did not succumb to her addiction. “I entered the program on March 15, 2000; 13 months and 9 days later, I left a changed person.” Today, the Lourdes graduate is one semester away from achieving what was once an inconceivable educational goal – receiving her Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) from Case-Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The career goals she will soon conquer include becoming a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor III.
Daily duties at Harbor House keep Connie very busy. Opening, managing and closing cases; operating the program; providing the linkage to outreach treatment, therapy, and mental and medical appointments; assisting individuals take their General Education Development (GED) test; and obtain housing and critical job skills. “Social workers can be change agents, effecting change at any level. It is important that we utilize our abilities when working with people who are dealing with the realities of their world and society as a whole.”
Connie’s work ethic, dedication to the field and those she serves are evident. Originally employed as a late night house monitor in December 2001, she has held several positions: resident manager, case manager and housing specialist. She was promoted to her current position in November 2013 and is being encouraged to become the executive director. “As program director, I am able to still do what I love – working and interacting directly with the clients. I also make a point of working with their families. My aunt once said to me, ‘I never hated or was disappointed in you; I hated that drug.’ So I focus on helping families understand and encouraging clients to have faith in the unknown and not the familiar cycle they are living.”
As for her future, Connie is committed to staying at Harbor House and doing good work. “God has always led me where I needed to be. I had to go through a healing process to be who I am today. I am going to stay here until He’s ready to move me.” Until then, she will continue to inspire others, to encourage them on their road to recovery and when they have successfully completed the program, to challenge them to achieve even greater heights.