Jill Part 2

“Hello! I want to express my excitement at this job possibility. I have a passion for helping other women navigate and live a life of recovery. I have many years of experience in the areas of domestic violence, mental illness and substance abuse… Since then, God and I have battled the demon and He and I managed to come out on top.”

Jill Hanlin – Essay for job application, Journey House Manager

What follows is my second interview with Jill. We focus on her today, her role and wisdom as Manager of Journey House.

I want us to bridge between your past as a resident here and your present job as House Manager. (Jill gives me a copy of the letter included with her job application expressing her “passion for helping other women navigate and live a life of recovery.”

How did that happen?

 I didn’t want it at first because it was  live-in . But I prayed and decided it was the right thing. And it is! 

What are the talents, the qualities in women who have lived here and eventually become staff? Lots of it is intuition.

 For example, the truth is that you have women who arrive here and think it’s a free ride. I’m going to get as much out of it as I can. Others believe their lives are worth saving. There is not a gray area. (Jill gestures.) You either have these people or these people.

More on one side or another?

 Many of the initial “takers” switch to other side. I will say initially… there are more “takers,” those with less ambition. After 6-7 weeks, a switch can go off. Everybody here plays a part in it. A group influence. Positive affirmation. Example. Maturity. 

 Last week we got three new people. I say, “You are amazing. You are invaluable. Thank you for being here.” But I don’t say it every day and not with everybody. I, myself, with my background, have had to learn to be assertive and honest. These women have been told what they want to hear from men. They get used to it. But I am honest. I don’t pass something by, but I know their lives have not been beds of roses. 


 At the weekly Monday night house meetings after dinner there’s no façade. I might say, “You may think I’m a bitch about this or that but later it may save your life.

You are stating that your core intention is to help them.

 Yes. It comes around later. Someone will tell me, “You were right.” 

Do ladies here call each other out?

 On occasion. It’s mixed. There’s always one in this house who tells on others. Generally, everything in the dark comes to the light for me here. 

What are the emotional obstacles for women when they leave here?

 Loneliness and boredom kick in. Especially if they don’t have a vehicle. When things are too calm you create chaos so you can feel normal. Bad relationships, sex, gambling, cocaine, looking in whatever wrong place. I did it for many, many years 

 I encourage ladies who are getting ready leave to call me if bad wheels start turning. Hopefully they’ll think, I can call Jill who promised she’ll take me to an AA meeting. They know that I am very active in my recovery. They know my recovery lifestyle - going to meetings, service work, church. 

 AA is a life saver. It is the best way to keep connected and stay healthy. You get phone numbers of the other women. If you rode the bus last time maybe this time a new friend will give you a ride. We have 12 Step meetings here once a week. I also encourage then to go to meetings in the area. I favor women’s meetings. They need to look for a Sponsor.  Connecting to other women in their lives can be different than in the past. They won’t stab you in the back. For many gals, most of their connections, unfortunately, have been with men.

The Drive Home:

Jill says:

 "God is always holding my hand and carrying me. I have things in perspective. He is always there when I need him. Any time I am ready He is right there."