When I took the job at the Housing Authority facility dubbed the “Hotel of Horrors” in the local media, I thought I was on a mission from God.
The weekend before I started the job, I took a spiritual retreat with the Quaker community I frequented. Out on an island on the Puget Sound, in a quaint room, I told a small group of my cohorts that I was following a spiritual calling by taking this job. Maybe that’s just how I dealt with my nerves.
Everybody at the community mental health center where I worked was far too afraid to take a job there.
I was a master’s level professional. I was physically fit and good at helping others. I knew that trying to “save” a community was risky. But I did not imagine what I was about to endure.
Years earlier, in college, I’d moved to the inner-city in Camden, New Jersey to hide a history of male anorexia. During my senior year, I had to take a semester off because of a mental health crisis. An observant resident of my apartment complex introduced herself to me upon my return from the hospital, as if she knew what was going on with me. Her name was Cece.