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My Journey as an Alum and Staff Member

Neal  Hoontis, Admissions Specialist 

Gratitude is to deeply and personally recognize the union of one’s journey with the blessings that were laid along its path. It is a retrospective contemplation. Giving attention to the past, cultivating humility and appreciation for the today. Along my personal journey towards a life of meaning Hanley Center at Origins was and is one of those gifts along my path, both as a former client and as an employee.  I had a choice in gathering it. A choice to use it as a tool of support for traveling my journey or to continue on alone, maimed, and impaired. What a blessing to be asked to write an article compelling me to reflect on such a gift. A gift which has now given me more than I had imagined.


I’m Neal Hoontis, a past client of Hanley Center and now an employee here with Hanley Center at Origins where I serve as an Admissions Specialist.


When I first entered treatment as a client, I cannot remember if I was dragged, kicked, or pushed by the consequences, subdued by the emotional torment, or weakened by the physical withdrawal, but I had arrived. I had no hope, was lying to myself and loved ones, and was as willing as a cat is to a bathe. I was able to take a step forward, though.  Every new room I walked into I met someone there that initially I had no faith in. But it was those staff members who embraced me with support. Within days I sensed their understanding and eventually I was open to their guidance. The care at this center became a platform for me not only to get well physically, but to treat and begin to understand the underlying causes of my addiction. In that understanding and guidance is where hope sprouted in the form of a new path. A path which I would follow and subsequently discover my way out of the woods.


My personal experience with the quality of care and commitment of this center has instilled in me the respect for what we stand for and the honor and pride of being a part of that process for others.


I would have never thought walking into Hanley Center that one day this is where I would be working. After years of self-care and guidance from my support system, I decided that the field of behavioral healthcare was a road worth pursuing. I secured an entry level position some years into my recovery. My actions of integrity to care of clientele, empathy, and responsibility have resulted in even more support and recognition.

My experience started as a Resident Manager of a local 501(c)(3) Aftercare Center here in Florida (where I had also attended and completed as a client years prior to employment) and continued to progress in client services, admissions coordination, and program direction. Working for a company of the scale and reputation of Origins was a great hope and goal of mine.  It has been one surreal moment after another since being asked to join Origins as each day I now come through the door working as an employee!


Gratitude is an inspirational word. It is also aspirational.


Something to be sought within, and with outward service. Not merely relegated to reflecting on the past. Not solely searching one’s mind trying to find gifts stumbled upon and attached like those little hitchhiker stickums on the side of trails (those suckers are kind of annoying anyway). No, to exclusively sit in reflection, although very effective and necessary in its own right, would mean missing a lot of the action and power! Like changing the oil in my car, if I am grateful for what I have received my actions should be to give care to it. Gratitude deserves to be cultivated. The remarkable part of that cultivation is that it bears fruit. In finding and showing appreciation for the support I have been given, by being responsible and caring to those opportunities; my gifts have appreciated. They have increased in value and continue to yield dividends.  I believe working for Origins has been a result of the action I have taken within this philosophy, however rocky the road has been.  And I am Proud of that.


Whatever road this journey brings, I hope to be mindful of the fruits along the path and to plant some seeds along the way. 



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