How Recovery Led to Service

“I will forever be grateful to the ARC program.”

After graduating from a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), Victoria Delucia said she applied to work at the front desk of the William Booth Center (WBC) in June 2018. Just over three years later, she’s now the center’s director.

“I am a firm believer that it’s not my timing, it’s God’s timing,” Delucia said, mentioning how “the stars aligned” for her to take on the role in late 2021.

At Seattle’s WBC, The Salvation Army helps to provide housing and case management for men and veterans struggling with housing insecurity in Washington. “This is a place where healing is possible and there’s a loving, caring group of individuals who have devoted their lives to serve people in need,” Delucia said.

After gaining experience working for various Salvation Army shelters in the area, Delucia said she felt ready to return to the WBC. “That’s where I wanted to be in my heart,” she said. “I felt like it was the piece of my puzzle that finally clicked in and I was able to find my purpose.”

As director, Delucia said she oversees the entire facility, including the health and safety of residents, case management, client and shelter services in addition to managing all contracts and grants.

“I am basically the one that keeps everything on track and moving forward,” she said.

Delucia and WBC Veteran Engagement Coordinator Allen Peters used to work behind the front desk together when she first started.

“Allen and I always joked around saying, ‘we’re going to be running this place someday.’ I mean, literally we joked about it,” she said.

“She’s proven herself to do a really excellent job,” Peters said. “She’s very empathetic toward the clients and everybody here.”

By creating a “sense of community” in a welcoming environment, Delucia said her goal at the center is to “make it a home for people who are in transition” while providing support to employees.

Rather than identifying her role as a “manager of things,” Delucia said she sees herself as a “leader of the team” and a servant to others. At the facility, Delucia said there are around 35 employees and two program managers who report directly to her.

One of the center’s employees is Corey Jackson, a case manager for the transitional living program. Prior to the WBC, Jackson said he worked with Deluica at The Salvation Army Harborview Hall and SoDo shelters.

“[She] made me feel like she actually cared to get to know me and my story,” Jackson said, reflecting on the first time he met Delucia.

As a leader, Jackson said, “Victoria always has an open-door policy. No matter the situation or issue…she will always make time to make sure you have someone to talk to and feel heard.”

At the WBC, Delucia said there are currently seven “housing-focused” programs “with varying degrees of intervention and length of stay.” Five of the seven programs are short-term, rapid rehousing programs in which clients can stay at the facility for up to one year. The other two programs are longer-term housing assistance with on-site case management for up to two years.

“We’re gonna do everything we can to get them on track and help them succeed. Whatever that looks like for them,” she said. “We’re not just a place to flop…We want you to have goals and we’re going to walk beside you to attain those goals.”

“It’s about helping everybody here…That’s what it’s about,” Peters added.

Through her personal and lived experience, Delucia said she can better relate with employees and residents at the center, many of whom are in recovery, including Jackson and Peters who are also ARC graduates.

Most recently, Delucia said she hired someone to run weekly Alcohol Anonymous (AA) meetings at the WBC, which she said she hopes will foster a sense of community for residents in recovery.

“I can actually show them through my actions and my behaviors that it’s possible to change,” Delucia said. “It’s possible to then turn around and give back and be of service for more people and the cycle continues.”

For 30 years, Delucia said she struggled with addiction. “That 30-year block of time is the prime period where I was supposed to be growing up and adulting,” she said. As someone who was raised to be “very independent,” Delucia said it was difficult to “admit that [she] was powerless” and that “there was something greater than [herself] that could help.”

Even though Delucia said she wasn’t raised in a religious household, she wanted to give The Salvation Army faith-based recovery program a chance because it was “something [she] hadn’t tried before.”

“I had tried everything, multiple treatment centers… nothing really clicked for me,” she added. “I didn’t want to live the way that I was living.”

By requiring ARC beneficiaries to attend chapel services and Bible studies, Delucia said she became willing to learn about God and Jesus. “The Salvation Army introduced me to a higher power that I could get behind,” she added.

“When I finally grasped the concept that God loves me exactly as I am, forgives me for what I’ve done, and is going to love me no matter what, it changed my whole world,” she said.

Then, through the ARC program, Delucia said she learned about service work and how important it is to always help those who are less fortunate. “There’s always someone that has it worse and we need to be looking out for them and not ourselves,” she said.

After graduating from The Salvation Army ARC, Delucia stayed involved with her recovery by living in a women’s sober house for over four years, where she held numerous service positions while also sponsoring other women. “Service work is my number one thing that keeps me sober and keeps me on track,” she said.

Jackson said Delucia’s story is one of “inspiration, courage, strength and hope.” “No matter what your background or how lost and dark your life can get, you always have the opportunity to change, grow and make this world a better place when your main focus is to help others,” he said.

In November 2022, Delucia will have reached five years of sobriety, which she said she attributes to The Salvation Army. “I will forever be grateful to the ARC program,” she said. 

REPRINT: This article originally appeared in Caring Magazine, written by Lou Buhl. To see more visit https://bit.ly/3QIus09.

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