As an Alumni Support Representative, Dale Trees loves teaching patients the Big Book. He also meets with the LGBTQ group, connects patients with alumni and 12 step groups after treatment, and travels the state visiting alumni and conducting workshops. The work allows him to watch patients progress through and beyond their time on campus. “I get to see lives change for the better. And I get to see alumni start working with others. That is when I see the ongoing miracle that happens. It’s a spiritual experience every time I witness it happening.” As one who has relapsed, he understands the struggle of those who must start over. “It’s sad when people don’t do well and have to come back, but they get another chance. And I love them all the same.”
Overcame Cancer and Addiction
Dale is a two-time survivor. First, he overcame cancer, which disrupted his college education. Second, he overcame substance use disorder, which cost him his long-time job. He has been sober since July 11, 2011, after his third attempt at recovery. The disease, however, ended his 20-year career as a purchasing and inventory manager for an Austin-based pump company.
Sought Spiritual Support for Job Transition
After recovery and before joining the La Hacienda staff, he was a caseworker with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in Kerrville. Not satisfied, Dale sought another vocation. “I prayed and meditated about it, and something kept tapping me in the heart, saying, ‘La Hacienda, La Hacienda.’ I said to myself, ‘What is that about?’” Intrigued, he went online to the La Hacienda job board and requested an application but applying for work was arduous after being employed by one company for two decades. He talked with his sponsor, and he prayed and meditated more. “God, you know where you want me,” he prayed. “I’ll do whatever you want me to do.’” He was hired and started work at La Hacienda in January 2016.
Overcoming Stage Fright
The Alumni Support Representatives are responsible for leading patients through the first four of the 12 Steps while they are on campus and preparing them for continuing the steps after they leave La Hacienda. That is done through classroom discussion and personal meetings. It is introduced and reinforced through lectures in the Bodega. Dale remembers the fear he felt before his first talk to all the patients in that big room. “Feb. 15, 2016, was my first day to give an open-topic lecture in the Bodega. I was scared; I wanted to run away and hide.” But he stayed and spoke, and he now looks forward to doing the lectures.
Active in Community Recovery Organizations
Dale is involved off-campus as a state-certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist. He is active in the Kerr County Adult Probation’s Phoenix Program, which works with people released after committing substance abuse felonies. And he is a former chair of the City of Kerrville’s Recovery Community Coalition. He has also become involved in advocacy for recovery issues at the state level, working with Director of Outpatient Service and Public Policy Sherri Layton.
Grew Up in Central Texas
He grew up in the area, living in Kerrville, Uvalde, and Del Rio. In later years he lived in Corpus Christi and Austin before coming back to the Hill Country. His involvement with work, sponsorships, and outside recovery organizations takes up most of his time. However, Dale still likes to sail when he is at the coast, to play golf (traditional and disc), volleyball, and baseball, and to travel.