Geoffrey's story: Program director helps others recover, rebuild from substance abuse

By Andi Atkinson

Jan 25, 2024

Geoffrey Ball with The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD

Geoffrey Ball, MBA, LCDC, CHW, program director of the Substance Use Disorder Outreach Program for The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, began his purpose-driven career at HCC Coleman College. 


In 2011, Geoffrey Ball of Houston decided it was time for a change. The 38-year-old retail manager worked for a Fortune 500 company, but he felt a different calling.

“I didn’t find my job spiritually rewarding,” Ball said. “I wasn’t exactly sure what to do, but believed I needed to help people.”

He began researching colleges and programs related to mental health and social services until he found the Chemical Dependency Counselor program at Houston Community College (HCC) – Coleman College for Health Sciences.

“I actually prayed for a new career, and it led me directly to this program,” Ball said. “I thought the pricing, convenience, and people at Coleman were exactly what I was looking for.”

Ball was on the brink of earning a generous salary, but he chose instead to begin a new journey.

“When I finally made my decision to leave, that was also the same day I was called to my manager’s office to meet with the district manager. He offered me a higher-level management position,” he said.

Ball not only turned down the job, he took a $40,000 pay cut so he could attend HCC Coleman College and work as an information and referral specialist for United Way.

He never doubted his decision.

“I was robbed of my youth because my father suffered from addiction and was physically and mentally abusive to me and my mother,” Ball said. “I realized everything I’d been through had lined me up with my purpose. I needed to help people recover from their traumas and rebuild their lives stronger.”

Ball was excited but uneasy about returning to school.

“I was scared out of my wits. I would be taking all these classes and working full time while supporting a family. I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “However, because it was all lined up with my purpose, college was effortless. I was on the dean’s list the entire time I was there, and I was also in the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.”

During the time he attended HCC Coleman College, Ball also welcomed two daughters.

Ball graduated from HCC Coleman College in 2013 with a Chemical Dependency Counselor certificate and an Associate of Applied Science in Human Service Technology. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Human Services followed by a Master of Business Administration, both from Springfield College, as he continued working full time.

Today, Ball is the program director of the Substance Use Disorder Outreach Program for The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD.

“Ten years later, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. “I’m in a position where I not only help individual clients but entire communities,” he said. “I’m actually in the process of putting together a civic task force for behavioral health and substance use disorder.”

As a counselor, Ball enjoys empowering clients with all the emotional and support tools they need. On occasion, Ball even returns to HCC Coleman College to gather information for his clients who wish to return to school.

For anyone who is unsure of which path (personal or professional) to follow, Ball offers very simple advice.

“Always follow your heart. Your heart will always lead you to your purpose for existing,” he said.

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