Grace Centers of Hope program helps former West Bloomfield resident get sober

By: Mark Vest | Metro | Published January 12, 2022

 Former West Bloomfield resident and Bloomfield Hills Andover graduate Dean Herzoff is pictured with his mom, Molly. After Dean became addicted to cocaine and Xanax, Molly encouraged him to get help at Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac.

Former West Bloomfield resident and Bloomfield Hills Andover graduate Dean Herzoff is pictured with his mom, Molly. After Dean became addicted to cocaine and Xanax, Molly encouraged him to get help at Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac.

Photo provided by Matt Myftiu

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METRO DETROIT — Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac is Oakland County’s oldest and largest homeless shelter.

Aside from being somewhere that provides shelter, it is also a place where people who are addicted to drugs go for help.

Dean Herzoff is one such person.

Unlike others who end up at Grace Centers of Hope, Dean, 30, wasn’t homeless or living on the streets, and he didn’t come from a broken home.

He grew up in West Bloomfield, and things were pretty much “cookie-cutter.”

“I got everything I ever wanted; never had an issue, never had family problems,” said Dean, who graduated from Bloomfield Hills Andover High School. “It was great.”

Dean’s perspective on life changed about five years ago, after his younger brother died by suicide.

Following that, he said, cocaine and Xanax “took hold of me.”

Dean said he used to get paid for doing marketing and promotion work for bars, clubs and restaurants, and it “came about in that life.”

He was making six figures and had “plenty of money doing what I was doing.”

Dean attended Adrian College and Central Michigan University, but he didn’t finish. “I was making enough money, and I was like, ‘Why keep going?’”

Despite the amount of money he was making, Dean described that period of his life as stressful and “not fun.”

“How I was spending my time is, I was being stupid, having parties, doing drugs, hanging out with people that I probably shouldn’t have been hanging out with, and doing things that I wasn’t supposed to be, for the most part,” he said. “My dad is a lawyer, so I was like, ‘he’s (going to) be embarrassed — I’m breaking the law.’ I’m doing this, I’m doing that. It was a never-ending cycle of trying to play damage control while also doing what I had to do on the side.”

Despite his family spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on rehab for him in what he estimated to be eight or nine different facilities, he said he “went right back to doing dumb things” and “just screwed around” during rehabilitation.

Dean eventually landed in jail, spending  more than nine months incarcerated in Oakland County and Florida.

When he had previously gotten into trouble, Dean was used to his family coming to the rescue, but after he landed in jail in Florida, his mom, Molly, had had enough.

“When he went to this terrible jail, I said to myself. … ‘I can’t go on like this. I can’t do this anymore, because I’m not saving him — I’m actually making things, if possible, even more horrible,’” she said.

Molly developed a relationship with a social worker at the Oakland County jail who told her “the most wonderful things about Grace Centers of Hope.”

She heard enough to give Dean an ultimatum.

“I said, ‘Dean, this is it. If you do not go to Grace Centers of Hope, do not ever come back to our house. Do not call us. Do not write us. Nothing. I am done flying, I am done paying, I am done sending you things, and I’m done enabling this,’” she said.

Dean agreed to go, which Molly attributes to her telling him that if he didn’t, “I was done.”

He entered the Grace Centers of Hope rehabilitation program in 2019 and lived on-site for approximately eight months.

“So he thought, ‘I’ll just go and mess around there, too.’ Well, if you know anything about Grace Centers of Hope, they don’t put up with any messing around,” Molly said. “So he went there, and he started out doing it because he thought he would do it for me and then I would go back to what I normally do, which is help him out, find him somewhere to live and take care of his life. And he got there, he got into the program, and I don’t know what happened between (then) and now, but something clicked. Something changed. Something changed in him.”

Upon reflection, Dean said going there was his “saving grace,” and he is a “hundred percent” glad his mom gave him an ultimatum.

“I knew it wasn’t a cushy rehab where I’d have whatever I wanted. It was a homeless shelter, technically, and I didn’t know what to expect, because it was very, very much different than places I had been before. I was a little nervous, but when I got here, I quickly acclimated,” he said.

It was about three or four months into his stay at Grace when Dean said he realized things were getting better and that he was “enjoying life sober.”

There is no cost for those who enter the Grace Centers of Hope program, and food and clothing are provided.

Those who enter the program are tested for drugs at various points during their stay.

Dean worked in Grace thrift stores and in the facility’s kitchen, helping to cook and prepare meals for residents when he was going through the program.

He credited the accountability that is required for helping him complete the program and “thrive” in it.

“Nothing is given to you,” he said. “You’ve (got to) actually work to get the treatment and the help you need.”

Kent W. Clark is Grace Centers of Hope’s CEO, as well as the church’s pastor.

He said there has been a complete turnaround in Dean’s life.

“That’s what we do here at Grace Centers. It’s not just a halfway house, a three-quarter house, or just getting off drugs. It’s really a life change — becoming a productive citizen with accountability and responsibility,” Clark said. “Grace Centers is not a prison for people who are hooked on drugs, but probably 98% of the people who come to us, that’s the situation. There has to be a change from the inside out, and that’s what we see, and have seen with Dean.”

Clark believes that what sets Grace Centers of Hope apart from other rehab facilities is the “God factor,” and that there’s “real hope” and “life here.”

Dean said he has worked for Grace since completing the program. He works in development, helping with marketing and social media content.

For Dean, life is vastly different than it was about three years ago at this time.

“My life is great,” he said. “I got married about a year ago. I have a job that I love. My parents, we get along fantastic. It’s a different life than I had before.”

Molly has taken notice.

“It fills my heart to the point where I didn’t think that we would be having this conversation about Dean,” she said. “I was terrified that I wouldn’t have him, either. So, it’s mind-blowing what he’s accomplished.”

Dean, who said he has been sober for over three years, currently lives in Pontiac, “right down the street” from Grace.

He acknowledged the role Grace Centers of Hope has played in his life.

“It’s played a huge part in my life,” he said. “It’s something that I never heard about until going to jail, never knew it existed. I never went to Pontiac. If I had never heard of Grace Centers of Hope, I probably wouldn’t be where I (am) today.”

Dean shared a message for those who may be currently dealing with the kind of struggles that led him to Grace Centers of Hope.

“Life gets better. There’s hope once you get past the hurdles that you’re dealing with,” he said. “Once you get to a point where you’re fed up and you’re ready to stop living like that, life gets better. It gets a lot better.”

Grace Centers of Hope has a men’s and a women’s program. There is also an on-site children’s program.

For more information, visit gracecentersofhope.org or call (248) 334-2187.

Grace Centers of Hope has thrift stores located in Warren, Sterling Heights, Oak Park and Waterford.

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