Following in dad's footsteps

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

It was 1963 when the Rev. Lynn Hageman and his wife Leola opened Exodus House, a rehabilitation center for heroin addicts in New York City's East Harlem neighborhood.

It wasn't the life the couple had originally expected to lead. Dr. Hageman, a Methodist minister, had once been promised a parish in Nebraska, but after entering a biracial marriage - he was white and his wife black -he found that path closed to him.

The Hagemans eventually moved their three young children into Exodus House with them, where they all became part of "an unusual extended family that included addicts who'd been through the criminal-justice system," recalls Ivan.

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Ivan and his older brother, Hans, watched their father work with the addicts, relying on programs and workshops he devised to teach, among other things, the value of labor and a sense of dignity as a human being. "He was very successful," says Ivan, who estimates that 90 percent of the addicts who completed his father's program managed to stay free of the drug thereafter.

Not too surprisingly, much of what his sons do in the private middle school they opened in the building that once housed Exodus House - where they both grew up -is patterned after the work their father did. "My father is my hero," says Ivan. "We're very much modeling ourselves after him."

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