Meet a Scientologist—Sherry Van Hootegem

Scientologist Sherry Van Hootegem says Scientology gives her the tools to gets things done.

Sherry Van Hootegem isn’t particularly looking for trouble—but if trouble comes her way, she is never one to turn her back and pretend it isn’t there. And when it came to the North Greenwood neighborhood of Clearwater, Florida, trouble had been brewing for quite some time.

“I own some property in the community and when I found there were drugs being sold right on the street it made me mad,” she says.

She attended a meeting at a local community center where she met a lot of people who agreed this had to change. The North Greenwood Community Coalition was born. Its motto: “Take Back Their Community.” Since 2007 Van Hootegem has been an active member of the coalition, devoting many hours a week to help counter the crime in the area.

“I work with the deacon of the Baptist church,” she says. “For the past five years we have been holding anti-drug and anti-crime marches and annual back-to-school events where we give out a thousand backpacks full of school supplies.”

Many in the community were aware of the drugs and knew who was selling them, but it wasn’t safe to talk about it for fear of retaliation.

“We are their voices,” she says. “Through our work, we have closed down four crack houses. Since we began, crime in the area is down 45 percent. But there is still a lot to do.”

Van Hootegem, 46, grew up in Edmonton, Alberta. She was introduced to Scientology while still in high school.

“I was having problems,” she says. “I didn’t understand why I would be happy one day and not so happy the next—where were these feelings coming from?”

She talked to her sister, a Scientologist, who recommended she read some books by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard and receive Dianetics counseling.

“It really helped,” she says. “My first Scientology book was The Problems of Work—Scientology Applied to the Workaday World. It was very easy to read and it covered things such as communication, how to resolve being upset with someone, and how to overcome exhaustion. There were so many simple things I could use. I felt more certain.”

Van Hootegem, who owns a retail company with her husband, says the basic principles of Scientology are the bedrock of their marriage and business. They give her confidence she can contend with whatever comes her way.

“We have the life skills to fall back on if things get rough,” she says.

To meet other Scientologists and see how they use Scientology to better their lives and the world around them, visit the Scientology website.

The popular “Meet a Scientologist” profiles on the Church of Scientology International Video Channel at now total more than 200 broadcast-quality documentary videos featuring Scientologists from diverse locations and walks of life. The personal stories are told by Scientologists who are educators, teenagers, skydivers, a golf instructor, a hip-hop dancer, IT manager, stunt pilot, mothers, fathers, dentists, photographers, actors, musicians, fashion designers, engineers, students, business owners and more.

A digital pioneer and leader in the online religious community, in April 2008 the Church of Scientology became the first major religion to launch its own official YouTube Video Channel, with videos now viewed more than 7 million times.