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Nazareth College alumna shared her story at "Celebration of Healing and Hope"

Published March 25, 2022

Called a “superhero who survived a world of brutal addiction,” Dellenna Harper shared her honest and inspirational story at “A Celebration of Healing and Hope” on March 24, at Nazareth College in celebration of Women’s History Month and Social Work Month.

Harper, an alumna of Nazareth and Monroe Community College, has written a mesmerizing account of her descent into a deep, dark place, and her challenging climb out to become a dedicated social worker. Her book is God’s Teardrop: My journey of healing from addiction and prostitution. Jane Sutter Brandt, owner of Sutter Communications in Pittsford, is the co-author.

10NBC talked to Dellenna at the Celebration of Healing and Hope at Nazareth

Harper's story was featured on WXXI's Connections with host Evan Dawson

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield was the title sponsor of the event, with MCC and Nazareth College as sponsors in partnership with the YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County’s annual STAND Against Racism 2022.

Harper told of her experience living with racism, sexism, bullies, oppression, shame, guilt and addiction. While her story has been described as a “down to the bone account” of the darkness of addiction and prostitution, and the many challenges of recovery, the story is also one of the incredible resilience of the human spirit.

Harper, a Minnesota native and Black woman, was addicted to crack cocaine for about 10 years. After spending time in prison and traveling around the country, she ended up in Rochester, often homeless and ultimately being arrested for prostitution. She started the road to healing after being released from the Monroe County Jail and entering The Jennifer House, a prison ministry program sponsored by Spiritus Christi Church in Rochester.

From there, she lived at the YWCA in Rochester for almost two years before moving into her own apartment in Irondequoit. While at the YWCA, Harper returned to college. She earned an associate’s degree in addictions counseling from MCC, a bachelor’s degree in social work from Nazareth College, and a master’s degree in social work from the Greater Rochester Collaborative of The College at Brockport and Nazareth.

Harper stayed connected to The Jennifer House, working there throughout her college studies and eventually becoming its director. In recent years, she returned to her native Minnesota to care for her elderly parents, and now she is director of Hope Harbor and Harvest Hill Programs (housing for the formerly homeless) at The Salvation Army in Minneapolis.

God’s Teardrop is available in paperback and on Kindle through Amazon, and in paperback and on Nook through Barnes and Noble and at Cerebral Kingdom bookstore in downtown Rochester.

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Nazareth College is an inclusive community of inspired learners, educators, and changemakers who for nearly 100 years have been driven by a bold commitment to action, empathy, equity, and leading innovation for the common good. Impact experiences are at the heart of a Nazareth education, preparing each student to discover within themselves the potential to cultivate positive change in their life's work, in any career field, and in a world that is constantly evolving and infinitely interconnected.

Our broad academic offerings present a range of study options typical of big universities, yet achieved in our supportive campus culture. Nearly 2,100 undergrad and 600 graduate students enroll in degree and certificate programs and engage in collaborative, transformative learning experiences, preparing them for the professions and society of today and tomorrow. In a learning community that purposefully integrates liberal arts and professional programs, Nazareth graduates launch lifetimes of changemaking leadership in communities and workplaces near and far.