As an Alumni Support Representative, Clay Eaton leads weekday classroom presentations about the 12 steps. He notes that the same program “saved my life” when he was a patient here in November 2006. Like the other Alumni Support staff members, Clay performs several unique functions in addition to teaching. He leads the Christian Recovery Program with daily group scripture study, conducts Sunday worship services, and baptizes those who profess their Christian faith while here.
Guadalupe River Baptisms
He performs the baptisms midday Wednesdays at La Hacienda’s cypress-tree-shaded property along the North Fork of the Guadalupe River. Clay, who grew up as a Southern Baptist in West Texas and is now non-denominational, tells those awaiting baptism that the sacrament symbolizes the death of the old life and the start of a new one. He inherited performing the sacrament from Lee Roy Loeffler, who baptized more than 1,000 patients in his 18 years on staff. “I became involved with the campus ministry while here as a patient and helped Lee Roy, then took over after he retired.”
Meet with Alumni Around Texas
Another part of Alumni Support’s official function is providing support for former patients after completing their treatment. They connect them with local recovery groups and veteran alumni living nearby, and they meet with alumni groups around the state. During the Covid-19 pandemic, these meetings were mostly via the Internet but are now meeting in person. Either way works for Clay. “I am blessed to have the opportunity to lead alumni meetings, by Internet or in person.”
Sober Since November 2006
After 30 years of addiction, Clay came to La Hacienda for treatment in November 2006 and has been sober since. He remained in the Kerrville area after completing the program and became involved with the local recovery community. “I was doing residential construction and the market slumped, so I looked for another line of temporary work. That’s when God led me to join the great team at La Hacienda in February 2011.”
The Best Job on the Campus
Clay started as a Direct Care Assistant. He did not intend to stay for long—just until the construction market rebounded–“but God had a different plan.” “As soon as I began working with our patients, I knew this was where I needed to be.” Two years later, he moved to Facility Monitor, but he felt he should be in Alumni Support. He kept telling leadership that is where he should be, and finally, in 2015, they agreed. “They gave me a shot, and it worked out. This is the best job on the whole campus as far as I’m concerned.”
Putting His Experience to Work
Clay says his experience in recovery, especially as a graduate of the La Hacienda program, is a huge plus. “Being an alcoholic and having lived that life before I got sober gives me the credentials to be of service to our patients and alumni. I have been where they are, and I know the way out. I get to share my experience and help others.” And it works in the other direction. “Every day, I learn something from alumni. They’re keeping me sober as much as I’m keeping them sober.”
West Texas Native with Taste for the Outdoors
Born and raised in San Angelo, Clay likes to hunt deer and birds. He also kayaks, motorcycles and likes to fish. Many who have tasted it proclaim Clay as a “world-class brisket cooker.” He can often be found grilling at The Outpost in Ingram during holiday events such as New Year’s and the Fourth of July. As one might expect from his work with the Christian recovery group, he is involved with his church as a leader, teacher, student, and volunteer. “I am living a successful, happy, and fulfilling life. If there is one thing that I would hope people remember about me, it would be, ‘He sure does love the Lord Jesus’.