In life’s journey, each person tackles obstacles in their own, individualized way. “Some will walk at a different pace. Some may skip for a while. Some may run. And some may walk backwards,” Lin Rohr said, inside HAC’s Hyannis offices on 460 West Main Street.
Rohr found herself here in the middle of March, a few days shy of spring, as she reflected upon her short time as the new director of Angel House. The goal at the Hyannis shelter is to support mothers as they take the necessary steps toward overcoming the difficulties placed in their path.
She arrived at Angel House in January, roughly a month after she moved to Cape Cod from Madison, Wisconsin, where she had been living with her husband Scott Ritchie. The pair relocated from the Midwest after Ritchie, a clinical psychologist, landed a job with Allied Health Providers in West Barnstable.
A native of Los Angeles, Rohr received her bachelor of arts in religion in 1982 from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. Five years later she added a masters of divinity from Princeton University, to her name. That is when she embarked on a 25-year career as a minister for the Presbyterian Church (USA) before spending five years as a spiritual counselor and professional life coach.
While her position at Angel House represents a career change, Rohr’s work experiences have given her a familiarity with the types of people found at Angel House – those who are homeless and overcoming addiction – making her transition to HAC relatively seamless.
Treating Clients with Dignity and Respect
“I’ve worked with the homeless and those in recovery through my parish work and pastoral counseling,” she said, noting that her previous roles have taught her to “approach them with dignity and respect.” She has brought that same approach to those she interacts with on a daily basis at the shelter.
Through trauma-informed care, Rohr explained that the ultimate goal at Angel House is to ensure that both mothers and their children have the treatment and support they need as part of their recovery. “What we seek to do is walk with them and hold up for them their own goals: to live clean and sober,” Rohr said.
Rohr understands that the housing Angel House provides is integral to client success. “If people don’t have housing and they’re in recovery, then the challenges are twice as much,” she said.
And she realizes that staff also plays a vital role in the equation. That is why she takes it upon herself to visit the shelter’s play space at least three times a week. There she plays, swaddles and cuddles with children, some of whom were born addicted to drugs. “In my own way, I say a prayer or wish for the child that their mom will continue on their courageous walk,” she said. “What the moms are doing will impact the little ones’ lives in so many ways… It will end the cycle of homelessness and addiction and all the associated traumas. These women are being so courageous to say, ‘I want that cycle to stop.’ Many of them had it with their own parents and now they are saying they want it to be different for me and my children.”
Rohr, who has two children of her own – Stephanie, 24, and Josh, 26, as well as a stepson Tyler, 27 – knows firsthand the importance of a parent. So she delights when she sees clients take that extra step, like going to college, because it ultimately benefits the next generation. “It really touches me because it might make a difference and their child won’t struggle in the same way,” she said.
It is all part of the difficult journey that Rohr and her Angel House colleagues are helping clients make, each at their own pace.