Congratulations to Lauren Ozzella, this year’s Elizabeth Lund Employee of the Year. Lauren works as a shift supervisor in Lund’s residential treatment facility for substance abuse and mental health disorders. She has worked at Lund for four and a half years and loves every aspect of her job. Learn more about Lauren who was nominated for her dedication to the women and children she works with and her quiet, calm leadership.
What is your role at Lund?
I am the weekend shift supervisor so I’m here Thursday through Sunday supervising the counseling staff and the clients who are in the building. This means a lot of things, but we can take the counselors and clients separately to define the roles. With the clients, I am providing in the moment skills support for moms, modeling parenting techniques, making dinner, distributing medication, helping organize staff led trips and activities. For example there was the Halloween party last weekend, I did not do much to plan that but I worked with peer council to make sure that they had everything they needed. I facilitate groups and I am a presence that people can come to if they need help. In terms of counseling staff, I supervise up to 5 or 8 counselors at a time. I am working with them to develop their role naturally. I work with a lot of newer counselors because they have weekend hours. I do a lot of initial training for counselors and help them to find who they are as a counselor and a staff member here, supporting them in their work with the clients, providing them with different educational tools they can use and again just modeling appropriate ways to respond to different situations whether it is a client escalation or an emergency room trip or what can we do for clients, and what’s OK to do. I meet with counselors that I directly supervise 2 or 3 times a month for door closed, sit down, sound machine on, one on one supervision but they might come to me with issues that they are having with a client or a situation I can help them in the moment.
How long have you worked here?
Almost 4 ½ years. I started as a residential counselor. I worked strange half overnight hours from 5pm to 3am or whole overnights 10pm to 8am. After some time on that shift I moved into a weekend daytime shift. I then briefly worked a daytime weekday shift and then the shift supervisor position became open. I transitioned into that role in April of 2014. I have been working generally the same days since, a variety of hours.
What is your educational background?
I studied psychology at St Michael’s College so I have a BA in Psychology and I have a minor in Spanish which I am not using a whole lot around here. But you never know, any day now… This was my first job out of college. I interviewed the day after I graduated and I was hired a couple of days after that. I love working at Lund. It’s awesome. They have really provided me with what I need to grow professionally. Within the past year I got my AAP (Apprentice Addiction Professional) and that allows me to teach groups that are billable. I have been to a lot of trainings. I have learned and grown and really figured out what I want to be doing while working here.
What is your 10-year vision?
My 10-year vision goes a couple of ways. Right now I am thinking about grad school and how I can get my masters in clinical psychology. And with that degree do more substance abuse work. And then eventually, probably 25-year plan, I would love to be in private practice but that would be a long time out from where I am now. I really love working in a residential center, it provides me with a lot of access to a lot of different people and different needs. It gives a whole roundabout experience. I would love to continue working somewhere where I am not just doing private practice one on one.
What are the things you like about working here?
I feel really supported by management staff, all around. I feel like I really can sit down with people and say, “This is the concern I have for the residential floor…” I really feel that if I come to staff and say the need we have and some reasons why, I really feel heard and supported in getting that need met. That’s really huge. I love the client work. I love working with people from all different walks of life and all different experiences. I feel like the work that I am doing is important. It is providing a unique experience. How many places in the country can have women live with their children in treatment? It is very, very few. This is such a unique, amazing opportunity and I am really proud to be part of it. It is really cool to see them be here with their children, to see them learn and grow and become better parents. And be able to leave here and stand on their own two feet and feel confident that they can do this in a way that they didn’t when they came in. I really enjoy that.
What do you wish people understood about Lund that they do not?
I often hear people generalizing about people struggling with addiction, “Oh they’re just junkies or they’re just addicts and they’re never going to get clean, they’re always going to be feeding off the system and taking advantage of things. ”And I think that what people don’t understand is our program and what we do. Number one, not everyone we serve has a substance abuse issue. We talk about residential but we also do adoption and childcare and all of our community clients, family engagement. It’s not all people struggling with addiction. We offer a wide variety of services to people who are struggling to help them get on their feet. All the people who work here have hope. It’s one of the core values we talk about and I think that everyone who works here really embodies that hope for all our clients. I wish it was contagious and all the people could feel that too. In a perfect world, I would love to have people come in and shadow, be here for a day and know that these are not just people who are feeding off the system. These are people who really want to do the work and we can really help them. We have all of these different things that we offer. Our goal is to get them on their feet or keep them on their feet. The stigma of mental health and substance abuse really blocks people. It is generally a lot easier to see the negative than the positive. I think that people just don’t understand what Lund does and if they could understand that and if they could see how we help all of these different people do all of these different things, it might help change that stigma and change their opinions. Addiction can strike anybody, that’s really lost on people and it’s sad and I would love peoples eyes to be opened a little bit more not just to the traditional picture of someone who is addicted to drugs.
How did it feel to win the employee of the year?
That was amazing! It wasn’t until the very end of Greeta’s speech that I realized she was talking about me. I was just sitting there, I was obviously listening but it didn’t really strike me that it could be me until I heard her say the title shift supervisor and then I started to think about the four of us and “It’s one of us. Are you kidding me?” Then a minute before she actually said my name I was thinking, “Oh my gosh what am I going to do if it is me?” It was a really nice surprise. It was amazing to be recognized by Lund. I feel so proud to work here and I feel so strongly that the work Lund does is amazing . It is never something I would have expected for myself in a million years. It’s great. I know that I do my job as well as I can but to have other people see that too and acknowledge that and want that for me is amazing. It is kind of mind blowing. I had no idea that it was going to be me. I eventually looked out and see Katelynn and Leslie and they were crying. They realized before I did. And they were like, “What do you mean you didn’t know?” It was amazing and surprising.
Outside of Lund, what kind of things do you like to do?
I really love to be outside. I do a lot of hiking. I downhill ski. That’s a lot of the reason why I am in Vermont in the first place. I grew up in Massachusetts and we learned to ski but we didn’t ski much, just a special one or two days a year. Then I went on a tour of St Michaels and realized that they had a crazy deal of $35 passes to Smuggs which I had skied before. “This is the best, I’m there,” I said. But obviously there was more to it than that! I read a lot and as every single person who comes into contact with me here knows, I have coffee in my hand about 96% of the time. I love coffee. I live in South Burlington really close to here, it’s a nice quick commute.
Thank you, Lauren, for your work and congratulations on this wonderful achievement.