Substance abuse counselor retires after 25 years, says time, ‘flew by’
Gila River Indian News
After serving the Gila River Indian Community for 25 years, Arlene Allison, a substance abuse counselor with Gila River Health Care – Behavioral Health Oasis, has now retired. On May 31, family, friends, and colleagues gathered to say their farewells and to celebrate her career. “I really wanted to stay here. The years just flew by. It’s been 25 years and I didn’t realize it’s been that long,” said Allison
Allison referred to her time working with the Community by saying, “I love the work, I love working with people.”
Allison was born in Sacaton but grew up and lives in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community where she worked for 16 years prior to working with GRIC. She began working with the substance abuse program before a merge with Gila River Health Care.
“She’s been a very good influence on the people,” said Corey Hayes, who has known Allison for several years, “she’s done a lot here in this Community but where ever she goes she’s going to be helping somebody somewhere.”
Allison shared her own experience with substance abuse as a young woman, and how she struggled with recovery. “Eventually I got back on my feet and I decided that this is the work that I want to do because even though I felt hopeless, getting some help made me see that if I can do it then I was a miracle to myself because it was very difficult to stay sober.” This compelled her to want to help others with similar experiences.
Allison still holds a license with the state as a licensed independent substance abuse counselor and wishes to continue utilizing it. Now retired, she plans to continue work through her church and fellowship.
Through her mother, Hazel Lavern Azul, Allison is 5th generation of Chief Antonio Azul, GRIC’s last traditional Chief.