Jerry Haffeyʼs path to success in business was unusual: He joined the Carpenters Union after high school and spent a decade working construction around Philadelphia before choosing nursing school because it offered the most options.
“The culture shock was probably the hardest thing,” Haffey remembers. “Imagine the leap of going from working as a big, burly construction worker to a nurse! I was scared to death when I first started.” He soon got over it, working in the intensive care unit at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, then turning to medical device sales, and finally realizing a longstanding ambition to have his own business. “I said, ʻGod, help me out here, what am I supposed to do?ʼ” recalls Haffey, a devout Irish-Catholic. When a friend suggested a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, the pieces fell into place.
“The day I went to look for a building, I had everything I needed in an hour. So I said, ʻOK, God, I guess you want me to open a rehab center.ʼ”
ʻI SEE PEOPLE DIE THAT JUST DONʼT HAVE TO DIEʼ
Haffey started Ambrosia Treatment Centers in 2007. The business flourished and now employs 300 people at five locations.
Believing that everyone deserves a chance, Haffey also provides free treatment–he calls it “scholarships”–to at least eight patients every month.
“Itʼs the right thing to do. Weʼre not dealing with widgets, weʼre dealing with peopleʼs lives. When I see a five-year-old kid and his dadʼs back, itʼs all worth it.”
COMING HOME, BUILDING A LEGACY
Haffeyʼs latest venture is a Medicaid-eligible treatment facility in his native Northeast Philadelphia–an area hit hard by the opioid epidemic. “My mom and dad grew up three blocks away. I get emotional about this,”he says.
“I want to leave a legacy behind that I tried to help as many people as I can.”