Photo caption: Chris Raymer and Elizabeth Olson: former instructor and former patient now co-workers at La Hacienda Treatment Center.
An old friend is returning to the La Hacienda staff.
Chris Raymer, who was Director of Recovery Services when he left in 2010 to pursue
He will develop programs for the recovery community, and lecture on and off campus, providing patients and alumni additional support to help them succeed in recovery.
“I have always dreamed of coming back,” says Chris, who was Vice President of Recovery Services for Origins Behavioral Health Care. “I want to help as many people as possible. I want to sit with them and help them hear the same message that I heard 31 years ago.”
One of his new co-workers is also one of his former patients. Chris taught Big Book to Director of Business Development Elizabeth Olson when she was in the program 18years ago.
“He has an incredible ability to cut right to your heart when he is speaking,” says Elizabeth. “Those first few weeks of sobriety are blurry for most, but I never forgot his message of hope and freedom. It was one of the most pivotal parts of my treatment experience.”
“His life is service to others, and he’s an example like no other. To have him come back to La Hacienda and to get to work with him is a dream come true.”
And the teacher is also proud of the student.
“You could not work with a better person than Elizabeth. She has done very well.”
Long Road to Sobriety
Chris moved to Kerrville in 1964 with his family and graduated from Tivy High School. He“split” to Houston in 1972 to enter an apprentice program in food preparation at the Houston Oaks Hotel.
“I drank that career away,” he recalls. “They didn’t care as long as you showed up on time and did your work, and I had a pretty strong work ethic. I got the work done, but you can only last so long.”
His work took him from Houston to the Dallas area, but the drinking continued. He tried 12-step fellowships, but “it took me forever to get sober.”
Finally, after a failed suicide attempt in 1987, he went “straight back into a meeting the next day. They were a bunch of Big Book guys, and they got me busy with the steps. I worked them and got active with service work and stayed sober ever since.”
He has been sober since November 13, 1987.
Where He Started
After his recovery, Chris interned at La Hacienda in 1993, then started work for the alumni department.
“I fell in love with the industry working out here; it’s wonderful to watch people get their lives back.”
He says it’s great “to be associated with a place of absolute integrity from the ground up. We have the best doctors, the best counselors, and are truthful in our marketing.”
“La Hacienda is unique in the industry,” he says. “We don’t have a problem talking about God or talking about abstinence. People can actually recover at a place like this.”
Service is Key
In his recent work, Chris has spent many days and nights on the road speaking to fellowship groups around the country.
“That’s probably what I’m best known for, talking from the podium about people trying to stay sober,” he says. “It’s part of the three-part legacy, the balance of unity, service, and recovery.”
Another part of his service was helping start the Outpost Recovery Club in nearby Ingram.
“That’s a big love of mine,” says Chris, who still serves on its board of directors “We wanted a place where the patients could go and be comfortable outside of La Hacienda.”
He and the other founders bought a former bar and remodeled it to be a location where recovery fellowships have gathered ever since.
Chris and his wife Patty—who also works in the treatment industry—still reside in Ingram.
A Family Affair
Chris says he’s always meeting people he met at La Hacienda.
“I can’t go through an airport or speak somewhere without one of our alumni coming up and saying, ‘You probably don’t remember me, but …’ and it goes from there. They’re like family.”
And with beloved family members, there are emotions.
“I came back a few years ago to speak at an Alumni Reunion. I did well until I walked up into the Bodega and I got pretty damned emotional. You spend so much time in this place
“I have a pretty amazing attachment to La Hacienda.”