When Hannah Crouch began her master’s degree at Indiana University Bloomington’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs in 2017, she planned look for jobs outside of Indiana following graduation. Now in her second and final year in the program, with graduation approaching in May 2019, Crouch is leaning toward staying in Bloomington.
She credits the change of heart to her experience as a SPEA Service Corps Fellow at Amethyst House, a United Way of Monroe County member agency that helps individuals struggling with addiction to build a foundation for clean, sober, healthy living through both in- and out-patient services.
“Working at Amethyst House has definitely tied me to the community more, and I’m certain now that I’d like to stay in Bloomington, at least starting out,” Crouch said. “The more people I’ve gotten to meet and the more organizations I’ve gotten to see, the more I’ve realized that there is really amazing work going on here that you just don’t see in other places.”
Crouch developed a passion for helping others at just 10 years old, when she took part in her first Relay for Life run to raise money for cancer research. In addition to expanded volunteerism with Relay for Life and her time at Amethyst House, Crouch has volunteered with the American Cancer Society, Court Appointed Special Advocates, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Choosing Amethyst House as her SPEA Service Corps project and second home for two years felt like a natural fit. “The staff is so friendly and welcoming, and I think that transfers to everything they do,” Crouch said.
Coming from a family with some history of addiction, she is familiar with the struggles and stigmas that can be associated with people who struggle with addiction. “When I explain to people what we do here, I focus on the outpatient and residential services we provide,” she said. “The long-term aspect of the treatment makes us different.” To receive the services, residents in the men’s and women’s residential programs must be 18 or older and are required to secure a job and become financially secure, attend an Outpatient Treatment Program, and start a support network through attending Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Residents receive weekly case management and learn important life skills.
One of Crouch’s favorite experiences with the program was seeing members of the Amethyst House board interact with members of Beta Sigma Psi, an IU Bloomington fraternity that raised nearly $10,000 for Amethyst House in April 2018 through a “Dodging Addiction” dodge ball tournament.
“One of our board members, Kevin, is about 70 and is a recovering addict,” Crouch said. “He was sitting there telling the guys all of these different stories from college and it was fun—but then he got really serious with them. He talked about the experiences he’d had with addiction, and you could see it hit them to hear someone they look up to being so honest about what he’s gone through. To see two different age groups at two different stages of life—it really showed how you could get through anything with a support system.”
The SPEA Service-Corps Fellow program is an example of an IU Corps experience, IU Bloomington’s network of students, faculty, staff, and nonprofit partners across the globe.