Interview with Dawn Smith, Executive Director of the Hilljack House
In this interview we talked to Dawn Smith, the executive director of the Hilljack House, a sober living community in St. Louis, Missouri. Dawn shares her personal story of long-term recovery and loss of her son to a heroin overdose. This tragedy inspired her to work in the field of recovery.
Dawn emphasizes the importance of keeping her personal recovery separate from her work. She has observed that when people start working in the field, they often neglect their own recovery, which can lead to poor outcomes.
Dawn also explains how the Hilljack House operates as a community-focused non-profit. It provides a home-like environment for residents, encouraging personalization and offering shared common spaces. Community engagement is a significant aspect of their program, including activities like sporting events and float trips.
Dawn also discusses the importance of alumni engagement, family reunification, and ongoing support for those in recovery. She is clear that residents don't "graduate" from the Hilljack House; instead, they "transition" into the community. After transitioning, they're encouraged to remain involved with the community, providing hope and examples for current residents.
When asked about future plans, Dawn reveals the organization's careful consideration of scaling up. While there is an ongoing need for sober living facilities, they are committed to maintaining the same level of support for each resident. They have grown from three to five houses in the past five years, and are considering how to expand while preserving their unique approach to recovery.
Dawn also discusses the sober living community in St. Louis, noting that there is always a need for more sober living houses. Dawn shares that there are fewer options for women than for men in the area and that several facilities have recently closed.
Dawn then talks about her use of Sobriety Hub, which has enabled her to become completely paperless. She appreciates the software's ease of use and the developer's responsiveness to her needs. Dawn sees a future of continued use of Sobriety Hub, praising its features that allow for customization of access for different roles within her organization.
Watch the full interview here: