FAIRMONT - As the new associate director at House of Hope in Fairmont, Deanna Green brings a lifetime of experience.
She was a parole officer for the Tennessee Department of Corrections. Her caseload of 256 clients included people from an area with a 14 percent jobless rate and an average sixth-grade education.
"We had a lot that came from the court," Green said. "They had never worked."
Some of her clients went into the "family business" of illegal drug manufacturing and sales.
"When I left Tennessee, I had my first fourth-generation family," she said, recalling an 18-year-old young man who determined to break the family's cycle of drugs.
House of Hope opened in Fairmont two years ago with no one in charge locally. The facility, which is almost at maximum capacity, was governed from Mankato, where there are two similar facilities - one for males and one for females.
"Fairmont is co-ed, and that's a whole other set of challenges," Green said.
Local House of Hope residents mostly come from southern Minnesota. It's a state-funded program which means "we're doing a lot with nothing," Green said.
She is grateful for a recent $5,000 grant from Fairmont Area Foundation. The additional funds are earmarked for equipping a detoxification area.
"We do make a difference," Green said. "You have to educate them and employ them, or they're not going to keep off the streets."
Clients live at the facility, working their way through a 90-day program, with the ultimate goal of getting a job and living a clean, self-sufficient life.
"Sometimes, they're not successful," Green said.
However, the 30 full-time and part-time staff do their best to offer support and set an example of the rewards of hard work.
No one knows more about perseverance and hard work than Green.
The mother of five lost her health insurance when her youngest child was born with health issues. At the age of 34, she enlisted in the U.S. Army so her children qualified for health benefits.
She spent six years in the Army as a member of the military police until she was injured.
"I spent some serious time in the hospital. I had to learn to walk, talk and feed myself again, but I made it back to active duty," Green said.
She received a medical retirement.
For a few years, she sold cars and worked at Zales, until she decided to use her veterans benefits to go back to school.
"I was making money. I had two teenagers, and I was working 80 hours a week," she said. "I took a huge pay cut."
Her degrees in psychology and criminal justice paved the way for her new career.
Green has plans and dreams for House of Hope. She wants to develop a community garden at the site, and she is driven to find outlets for her clients to work.
"If people hire [the clients], they get tax breaks," she said. "Then they can say, 'I'm not useless. I'm not worthless.'"
Green also is available for speaking engagements, whether for civic groups, church organizations or coffee clubs.
"I'm open to any and all ideas, any and all partnerships," she said.
Her direct line is (507) 399-0795.