Steven’s HS Diploma, MD Driver’s License & Last Supper

Steven stopped by my classroom last week to say hi and I got him to share his story with the class. He arrived at Helping Up Mission for our 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program in November 2011 and was desperate to find help to overcome his heroin and cocaine addiction.

Consequently, Steven was willing to take suggestions. Doing what we advised, he also took advantage of every opportunity available here.

There was an inexpensive framed print of DaVinci’s Last Supper on the wall of my classroom that reminded Steven of his grandmother’s house. So, while still a new guy at HUM, one day in class he asked if he could have it.

I didn’t want to set a precedent of guys asking for everything in the room, so I said “I’ll give it to you the day you graduate” — about 10 months later!

Well, he did…and I gave Steven the print…and he was grateful. But then he said, “I want you to keep it and put it back on the wall in the classroom. Hopefully it’ll inspire someone else to graduate, too!”

It’s still there today…with an inscription — Print Donated by Steven B… 2012 HUM  Graduate

But the pic wasn’t all Steven earned that year at HUM. He also received his Maryland high school diploma and Maryland driver’s license!

But not having a great place to go and nor feeling it was the right time to leave, Steven decided to stay on campus in graduate transitional housing and continued working here as a graduate intern.

But a later chance meeting with another guy in recovery got Steven a job offer — almost 3 years ago. Today he lives near work, but stops by HUM regularly.

He likes to visit the picture!

Steven's HS Diploma, MD Driver's License & Last Supper 1

One Day at a Time,

Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

Come Home? Absolutely Not!

Five months ago Craig, 38, was struggling with his addiction. He had loving parents who cared about him…but this Craig wasn’t the same guy they knew and raised.

Just before arriving at Helping Up Mission for our 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program, Craig spent a day with his parents and things went pretty well — so he suggested he might go home with them and stay a few days.

“Absolutely not,” was his father’s quick reply!

It devastated Craig…he felt rejected and unloved. Then — to make matters worse — his parents offered to bring him to HUM!

While Craig knew mom and dad were hurting, he was in so much self-inflicted pain, he couldn’t really consider their feelings. And upon arrival here, Craig felt absolutely hopeless.

He spent a lot of time with me — telling me about his pain.

But…day by day, Craig also began sharing insights he was getting about himself and his situation. After two weeks he didn’t even need to talk with me anymore!

Craig availed himself of almost everything we offer at HUM. If we were doing it here, he at least tried it!

When Craig completed the initial 45-day phase of our Program — also ending his blackout period — his parents came to celebrate with him…and even brought him home for an overnight visit.

Yesterday Craig told me he spent Christmas at home with mom and dad. They told him — if he needed a place to live as he was preparing to move on with his life after graduation from HUM — that he was welcome to live back home.

Since his name’s not on a lease anywhere, I suppose Craig is technically still homeless…but, in his heart, he feels homeless no more!

One Family at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

Now, That’s Christmas Stuff!

For weeks now, friends of Helping Up Mission have been providing gifts for our men to give to their children at Christmas. We’ve been the recipients of a ton of stuff!

See — here and here.

Yesterday, Drew and Glen’s “Winter Apparel Drive” showed up here and our guys got another load of stuff for themselves and loved ones.

Then today, Christmas Eve morning, the folks from Giving Back, Linda’s Legacy were here in-mass. Carrying on the 30-year good work of Linda Greenburg in the greater Baltimore area, the GBLL family had their kick-off meeting in our Chapel.

All day long they’ll be distributing warm clothing to the city’s homeless. Of course, before they departed, they also left boxes and boxes of things for our men to have during 2016.

But the best part of the whole day was the attitude of guys here at HUM. Man after man came up to me — looked me square in the eye — and sincerely shared how grateful he was for all the work we did to help them make Christmas wonderful for their children.

Yet, even more than that…when we finished this afternoon — because of schedules and responsibilities — some guys weren’t able to get some things they’d hoped to have for their kids.

We really didn’t have anything else left…but, to a man, they said to me, “Well, that’s okay you guys still did a lot for all of us!”

Now That’s Christmas Stuff!

When we have more gratitude than we do things, we’re definitely moving in the right direction.

So, to all our wonderful friends who’ve supported us all year — and especially at this holiday season — all the men of HUM send their thanks, gratitude and appreciation!

“A merry Christmas to us all!”
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

Christmas for Mitch & the Kids

Over the weekend the Taylor Foundation and Taylor Technologies hosted 30+ Helping Up Mission guys at a Christmas-gifts-for-kids-of-HUM-men event!

This year the foundation sent over 27,500 boxes of Christmas gifts to Third World countries and also supported the children of men in our 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program.

The Manchester Blue Sox baseball team and others also showed — including Nick, the 1,000th grad in HUM history who, today, lives and works in the greater Baltimore area!

Together we wrapped over 2,000 individual gifts for HUM kids!

Interestingly, many of our guys who went to wrap were not fathers of the children who would receive these gifts! They just wanted to help someone else. One of them was Mitch.

An energetic young guy, Mitch has a passion for life. And appreciating the way drugs made him feel, he thought they would really help him put it all together.

They didn’t…

So, at 26, Mitch managed to lose his children, marriage and career. Arriving at HUM, he was ready to try something different. But it wasn’t easy settling in here and “taking suggestions” from our staff.

But Mitch wanted to change and was open to hearing what we were saying. It took a little while, but his mind cleared and he decided to get with the Program.

It’s been 4 months and we talk quite a bit, now. Mitch is amazed how often God shows up in so many different ways in his life on a daily basis.

Of course, I told him God’s been doing this kind of thing for him all along, he just wasn’t “tuned in!”

So, this Christmas there’ll be lots of happy HUM kids…and quite a few grateful — and growing — HUM dads!

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One Life at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

It’s A Very Merry HUM Christmas!

Helping Up Mission has been operating in Baltimore since 1885, always focused on the community’s disenfranchised citizens. Today we have 8 different programs with 500 men in residence — most in long-term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

While we have wonderful year-round support from some special partnering organizations and the community as a whole, during the holidays — between Thanksgiving and New Year — the men of HUM are inundated with blessing of food, clothing and even gifts they can pass on to loved ones.

For the 9th year in a row, the folks at BPFE have provided Christmas gifts for the children of HUM men. Last week guys went to Target and picked out the gifts, themselves.

Afterwards, in class, some shared their thoughts with me.

Brandon actually got his gifts wrapped and to the house before his daughter got home from school that day. Dad, who’s living here and not at home, was able to put the first gifts under the Christmas tree for her!

She was so excited and dad was having his best day in a long time. For Brandon, it felt good to be clean and responsible.

Donnie came to HUM from another state. Last year he promised his daughter a special gift for this Christmas and it’s probably the one thing that has bothered him most about being here — there was no way he could get her that gift!

But Donnie was able to go to Target and purchase exactly what he promised — and even had enough left over to buy her something extra!

HUM is blessed by having so many wonderful friends in the community who believe in what we do and step up to make a difference in the lives of our guys…and their families!

Merry HUM Christmas to All!
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

Phil’s Anonymous Friend

I got a 5-page update from Phil last week…about his daily work responsibilities here at HUM.

In our Learning Center he helps men earn their high school diplomas. Phil’s focus is teaching basic computer skills — now required for all Maryland High School diplomas.

Phil’s first assignment last fall was an older HUM man with no appreciation for computers. A good Alcoholics Anonymous guy, himself, Phil didn’t even tell me this man’s name. I’ll just call him Anonymous.

Anonymous, 60, was working on his high school diploma but despised computers. Phil asked A what he really wanted to do on the computer.

His response was to be able to email his sister, catch the daily Orioles sports news and read the New York Post online!

So they got started…first with keyboard basics, then the internet. By the end of their first week, A created his own email account, composed and sent messages to his teachers, and accessed his account on his own.

The next week A send his first message to his sister. She was so happy to hear from him…and they began corresponding back and forth.

Meanwhile A was now checking Orioles scores and news. He also realized he didn’t need to spend $1.50 for the NY Post because he was reading it online.

Brother and sister became pen pals as she could see the new man he was becoming — the man she always knew he could be. It was so powerful, she invited A for Thanksgiving.

A’s brother, with whom he’d hardly spoken for a decade, was also there. Sis had been telling him about the different A she had come to know.

They had a great conversation together. Bro even drove A back to HUM and asked to be included in the email stream!

Anonymous was overcome with joy…and Phil was pretty moved by it all…me, too!

Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

Phil Gave What Away?

Phil, 44, is an intelligent, capable guy who’s battled alcohol for decades. He’s also had lots of involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) — and believes the material — but has struggled practicing it day by day.

Despite his addiction, Phil got a college education and had a couple of good jobs in different career fields. But alcohol always won and Phil would manage to mess up what he had.

He arrived at Helping Up Mission in June 2015, ready and willing to try something different. He settled into our 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program and did what we suggested.

In most cases, they were things Phil already knew — but just couldn’t stay the course consistently. So the structured environment here helped him focus on his priorities.

In his own quiet way Phil worked at his recovery, renewed his spiritual commitment to God…and found himself in a good place to help others.

All the men of HUM have daily Work Therapy Assignments (WTA) on campus. Because of his skills and experience, Phil’s was in our Innovative Learning Center.

That meant his daily responsibilities involved helping other HUM guys studying for their high school diplomas. Phil’s special focus was assisting them in developing computer skills — now a Maryland High School Diploma requirement.

While not an expert, Phil helped guys set up their own email accounts, learn to access their accounts and, then, read and write their own emails. He also taught them how to use the internet for job information and helped with their resumes.

His AA training taught Phil that investing time and energy in others in a powerful recovery tool — and, today, helping another guy get exciting about changing things in his life also gives Phil joy and purpose in his own life.

Now that’s how recovery’s supposed to work!

One Day at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

Been Eight Years Since…

I first met Jon in 2007, the year he arrived at Helping Up Mission. Born in West Africa, he’d been in the US for a while and developed a chemical addiction here.

Once in our 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program, Jon consciously worked at his recovery. Wanting to change and willing to take suggestions, he did what we advised and graduated one year later.

Then Jon moved on…and I lost touch with him.

I saw Jon again yesterday…and with great enthusiasm he shared with me that he’d been clean for 8 years — since first arriving at HUM. But it’s not been an easy time — recently Jon also became a cancer survivor.

Now on disability, his most recent living arrangements didn’t go so well, so Jon came back here as an overnight guest until better arrangements could be made.

As a graduate of our Program, Jon would be eligible to live here again…but he wants to have his own place.

It was great seeing him after all these years. While things aren’t perfect, Jon’s just appreciating the life God’s given him…

…One Day at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

Peter Went to Court Yesterday…

When he arrived at Helping Up Mission 7 months ago, Peter had spent 25 years of his life battling with drugs and alcohol. But he wanted help — and also had a court date pending.

Those pending court dates sure do help guys get into programs…looks good when they stand before a judge. But our HUM staff understands — most of them did it, too!

So we accepted Peter, 49, into our 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program. A bright guy who has done a lot of things in his life — many of them illegal — when not under the influence of a chemical, he’s not so bad to be around.

But it wasn’t easy, at his age, quietly settling in here with the other 499 guys who reside at HUM. It took Peter a little time — but he did it.

And, in the last couple of months, I think we finally got to meet the real Peter!

At court yesterday, the judge, too, met this new Peter — but she also had his massive criminal record in her hand. She liked who she met…but she didn’t like all that was in his case file.

So it was probation for a couple of years and graduate from HUM. Peter will be here a while — he’s going to college next semester. Turns out he really likes helping people and wants to get some training.

He got some help…and found some hope — and now Pete wants to pass it on!

One Day at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

Self-Respect, HS Diploma & New Mouthful of Teeth…Life’s Good!

Donny had battled chemical addiction off and on for years — but his last 10-year run just about killed him. He arrived at Helping Up Mission for our 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program in September 2011.

Once here, he just settled in and made a conscious effort to work on his recovery. Donny benefited from his mental health counseling and started facing the issues that caused him to keep drinking.

Then, at age 50, Donny began to believe he could still get his high school diploma and started working on it with our staff and tutors every day.

Also, in his addiction, Donny hadn’t taken good care of his teeth and he got the opportunity to change that through our partnership with the University of Maryland Dental School.

This all sounds good, but it wasn’t easy. Working through his personal issues was painful — but important.

Studying English and math again after 33 years wasn’t fun, either. And before he could get what he wanted…Donny had to have every tooth pulled that he hadn’t already lost!

On top of all this, while here, Donny lost both of his parents.

But a new Donnie was emerging. After 4 years at HUM, last week Donnie moved into his own place in the city.

He left here as a graduate of our Program with 4 years and 2 months of recovery time, his high school diploma, a completely new mouthful of teeth and a great feeling about himself — under God.

We expect to see Donny come back around regularly. It will be good for him and good for the new guys showing up here. Spiritual recovery really does work…

…One Day at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director