U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR
Hansens Provide Support to Game, Lives of Those in Need October 1, 2015 | Egg Harbor Township, N.J. By Ron Driscoll, USGA

Hidden Creek owner Roger Hansen and his family understand the horrors of drug addiction, and help those looking for a fresh start. (USGA/Chris Keane)

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Roger and Edwina Hansen first got involved with the USGA when they hosted the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Blue Heron Pines Golf Club, their course in Galloway, N.J., which they have since sold. That experience led them to form friendships with players such as Ryan Moore, Julieta Granada and champion Brandt Snedeker, and also prompted them to offer Hidden Creek Golf Club, which opened in 2002, as this week’s U.S. Senior Amateur Championship venue.

“If you’re part of an industry, you should be in the industry,” said Roger Hansen. “We thought this course was capable of hosting a national championship, and we wanted to show it off.”

The Hansens’ stewardship of the game, which also includes support of a local First Tee program, pales when compared with their very personal mission to help those who are trying to recover from addiction. Their daughter, Jennifer, is a former heroin addict who returned home to New Jersey from California after having spent two years in recovery, and found that resources were almost nonexistent in the area.

“She expected what she had in California and she didn’t get it,” said Hansen. “She looked around and realized that she had to do something about it.”

Jennifer met a man who ran a halfway house and went on to help establish an additional 30-bed halfway house for men who were recovering addicts. Within a year, she got approval and assistance from the state for a similar house for women. This was 17 years ago, and since then, the Hansen Foundation has established six additional facilities, four of which are known as Serenity Houses, and two of which are called Serenity Estates. The estates are in Ventnor and Atlantic City. All of the facilities provide help, hope and support for those in Atlantic County who are struggling to recover from what Hansen called an epidemic in the region.

“Jennifer was one of the lucky ones,” said Hansen. “She escaped, she made it through, and she wanted to make an impact on behalf of recovering addicts. No one is immune from this problem. The son of one of our members, who worked for us, died last year. It touches everyone.”

The foundation raises funds through an annual spring concert, a road race called Run4Recovery, and a charity golf event at Hidden Creek in the fall. The need is urgent and ongoing – the beds in these facilities are filled to capacity all the time, according to Hansen.

Edwina Hansen is proud of her daughter, who started using drugs in her early teens, stopped at age 24 and has been sober for more than 19 years.

“Part of the continuing recovery is supporting others who are struggling with the same issues,” she said. “Just a little slip, and they could be right back where they were. She had a friend who relapsed after 20 years and later died.”

Edwina noted the difficulty of those attempting to return to a normal life after a 30-day rehab stint.

“They’re barely getting the drugs out of their body before they go back into the same environment,” she said. “When that happens, they’re around the same old people, places and things, and they often relapse.”

That is where the halfway house and serenity house concepts come in.

“If they are a good fit, we accept them into one of the Serenity Houses,” said Edwina. “We require them to get a job, to go to meetings and submit to drug testing. And we help them with any legal problems, we help them get their kids back. It’s a very intimate situation.”

The need is great, yet the results can be gratifying.

“It’s amazing to see people come up to our daughter to tell her, ‘You saved my life,’” said Roger Hansen. “It gives you chills.”

Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.

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