Alumni Staffer Goes From City Planning to Life Changing

John SniffenAlumni, La Hacienda

Sabine Kuenzel, New Alumni Support Representative for La Hacienda Treatment Center

Sabine Kuenzel cares so much about helping others in recovery that she changed careers, leaving urban planning and development to become an Alumni Support Representative at La Hacienda in late June.

Sabine (pronounced “Sabina”) holds a master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin and has served the cities of Kerrville, Sugar Land, and College Station. But the opportunity to guide and help others encouraged a change.

“I’ve always been good with people. I try to understand what they’re like, to see the world through their eyes,” she says.

From her recovery as a patient at La Hacienda in January 2015, she knows there are “success stories and heartaches” in the process, but the transformation from the patients upon arrival to “seeing the light come back into their eyes” makes the work worthwhile.

Born in Germany, she came to the United States as an infant with her parents and brother. She grew up in a German-speaking household. In fact, she can still speak German better than French, in which she has a bachelor’s degree.

In her spare time, Sabine hikes, dances, researches areas of interest to her, and does Tai Chi and Pilates with the help of her Chiweenie, Marlie. She admires tiny houses and would like to start a small home community. “People don’t need a lot of space to be happy.”

“We are glad to have Sabine join our Alumni Services Department and know she will be a great addition,” says Sherri Layton, Outpatient Services Administrator. “She has settled in quickly and is shadowing the other Alumni Support Representatives and learning how we approach the different functions of the department. She will begin visiting our various alumni groups in the next month or so.”

Alumni Services staff play an important role at La Hacienda. They teach Big Book classes during the week and are the primary source of information about the 12 Steps that patients receive while they are in treatment.

They also prepare patients for making the transition to 12 Step recovery after treatment, helping to identify meetings in their home areas.

“We work to help our departing patients have a recovery contact when they get back home. Our Alumni Services staff is a key part of the team and adds the 12 Step piece to complement our clinical and medical care,” says Sherri.

La Hacienda has a strong alumni network in cities throughout Texas. Former patients participate in weekly meetings and help new graduates transition into recovery. La Hacienda also hosts an annual reunion the first weekend in May in Hunt, Texas for all former patients and families.