My Davidson | A Student Blog Teachings from Hope Haven, a Recovery Community

a large apartment complex with a courtyard in the center

Begley-Collier spent the summer working at Hope Haven Inc. in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Emma Begley-Collier ’25 shares her experience working in a recovery community as a Summer Intern with Davidson College’s Center for Civic Engagement.

About the Author

Emma Begley-Collier ’25 (she/her/hers) is from Seattle, Washington.

“My favorite restaurant to go to while living in Charlotte over the summer was Lang Van. Living in proximity to it is reason enough to apply for the CCE internship.”

Do we mean what we say? Do we live what we say? Do we embody what we say? What do we give our ultimate attention, care and love to?

These are some of the questions I have been asking myself lately. For eight weeks last summer, I spent my 9 to 5s at Hope Haven Inc., a therapeutic community for individuals and families in early recovery from substance use disorders. I have found that to be in recovery often means testing these questions in ways that people not in recovery do not. It is hard to be in recovery and stay in it if you don’t mean what you say, live what you say and embody what you say. To be in recovery at Hope Haven means challenging an active addiction to a substance, where that substance was put first, and instead putting something else first in your life. I believe that is one of the hard, if not the hardest, things to do in life.

As a social media intern, part of my role was collecting stories of residents. I did this by interviewing and conversing with residents, and, with consent, sharing their stories with program graduates, potential residents, individual donors, volunteers and the public. I learned the collection and sharing of stories is not straightforward. It is imperative to explain exactly how the story will be used, to center the individual telling the story, to do my very best not to misrepresent the individual, and to always defer to the person sharing, lest risk using words in ways that the person who said them did not mean. This means taking off the lens of searching for stories that make Hope Haven look good, and taking the whole story for what it is, giving attention and care to all aspects. Ultimately, stories are windows into the residents’ reality that is truer than my own reality. The residents are the ones experiencing the program and can identify problems that even data cannot capture alone.

a compilation of images from a rehabilitation center depicting a koi pond and a grassy area with picnic benches

Hope Haven helps those in recovery build healthy and independent lives.

The reality of a job in the development department, which is a crucial department, is that truth is not the only thing that I am pursuing in my job assignments. Money is also necessary to keep the doors of Hope Haven open. This meant balancing truth while answering to the donors who have their own agendas; and doing our best to represent Hope Haven and its community amidst the hoops and requirements of grant-getting.

For me, last summer was not about increasing social media engagement or number of likes. I found the most important parts of my time were those where conversation opened another window into a way of seeing the world that I wasn’t capable of seeing before. And that is awe-inspiring.

Through these experiences and a shared curriculum, CCE summer interns explore complex social issues, build community capacity and develop skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and communication. All opportunities are in the Greater Charlotte and Lake Norman Region and provide students with a stipend and housing. These summer positions are made possible through the William F. and Betty G. Mulliss Foundation, the Davidson Class of ’68 and the Davidson Class of ’89.

Learn more about CCE Summer Positions→

Apply for CCE Summer Positions in WildcatSync (Davidson login required)→


  • January 27, 2023