By Sasha Smith
In celebration of Women’s History and National Social Work Month, Nazareth College hosted an event for the YWCA of Greater Rochester and Monroe County’s annual STAND Against Racism campaign 2022. “Celebration of Healing and Hope” was the name of the event.
This campaign was created by the YWCA of Rochester, NY, following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other victims who lost their lives due to racism.
The YWCA has since adopted the slogan “Eliminating Racism, Empowering Women.”
Dellenna Harper, author of the book, “God’s Teardrop: My Journey of Healing from Prostitution”, was the keynote speaker for this event. Harper says her passion is advocating for and working with formerly incarcerated women who struggle with mental health, substance abuse, trauma, self, etc.
“This passion was conceived from my own personal issues struggling with addiction, incarceration, and everything else that comes with that lifestyle,” Harper said.
This passion inspired the book, 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.
“Dellenna’s brutally honest story of her struggle with addiction is a must read—for every woman who is struggling with addiction, for every family member of a loved one caught in the grips of addiction, for every employee, student, or community volunteer engaged in human services and criminal justice systems, for every white person seeking to understand the impact of racism on individual lives. Her story exposes the negative underbelly of our social norms of beauty, gender, sexuality and race, and the devastating consequences of fear/hate-based biases and actions on individuals, families, and community,” said Jean Carroll, Sociologist, Former CEO of YWCA of Rochester, N.Y in the God’s Teardrop prologue.
Harper, a licensed master social worker, is a Minneapolis, Minnesota native black woman and openly shares her experiences of racism, sexism, bullying and discriminations.
Harper came to Rochester after traveling the country. Once in Rochester, Harper often found herself homeless, ultimately being arrested for prostitution and spent time in prison.
“My call to healing came after being released from Monroe County Jail,”she said.
After being released, Harper became a resident at the Jennifer House, a prison ministry program sponsored by Spiritus Christi Church in Rochester. She then lived at the YWCA for almost 2 years before moving into her own apartment.
Dellenna returned to college while living at the YWCA, earning 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 worked for Jennifer House throughout her college studies, eventually serving as director.
Harper speaks from her heart, often pausing to wipe her tears, remembering experiences that ultimately caused her to turn to drugs to cope with her feelings and emotions.
Harper also spoke about the darkness of addiction and prostitution, having been addicted to crack cocaine for about 10 years, and how she was able to overcome some of those challenges by being resilient. Harper said she never lost my faith when I was out on the streets.
“I knew I was in the wilderness. I left God. He never left me. It bugs me when people say God doesn’t listen to a sinner’s prayers because there have been so many times when He heard me, so many times when He saved me. So even though I was sinning at the time, I know He heard me. There’s no other reason why I’m here,” Harper said in the book’s prologue.
She rehashed her first ‘encounter’ with racism which happened while in elementary school in Minnesota, as a result of being the only black girl there.
Harper recently moved back to Minnesota to take care of her elderly parents and is now Director of Hope Harbor and Harvest Hill Program (housing for the formerly homeless) at the Salvation Army in Minneapolis.
More information about God’s Teardrop can be found by visiting suttermedia.net/books/godsteardrop.
Praise for God’s Teardrop: My journey of healing from addiction and prostitution, as stated on Sutter Comunications website:
“God’s Teardrop is an amazing story of transformation and resilience. No matter who you are—but especially if you are someone who has struggled with addiction or loved someone who has—you will find yourself reflected in these pages,” said Michael Boucher, LCSW-R, Co-Director of Counseling and Community Work at St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center, Rochester, N.Y.
“God’s Teardrop” is an emotional baptism that chronicles Dellenna’s heartbreaking journey through the cycle of addiction. However, this is not a story of unyielding trauma; instead, it offers the connective tissue of love and hope. It illustrates the beauty of God’s fulfilled promise and what happens when we are granted mercy,” said Tokeya C. Graham, Tenured Associate English Professor at Monroe Community College, Rochester, N.Y.
“God’s Teardrop is one woman’s story of heaven’s response to a world filled with racism, sexism, bullies, oppression, shame, guilt, and addiction. This is the life journey of a survivor who cried out from the depth of her soul. “Dellenna takes the reader through the darkness of addiction, to the challenges of recovery, and the incredible resilience of the human spirit. What Dellenna shares is honest and inspirational and provides a pathway that others may follow,” said Jim Smith, Friend and former co-worker at The Jennifer House.
To receive a copy of the book and to set up an interview with Dellenna, contact Jane Sutter Brandt at email@example.com or by calling, 585-355-1457.