Scott C., age 61, was born in San Bernadino,
California. “My father was a civil servant in the
United States Marine Corps,” recalls Scott. “I was
raised in California but moved to Maryland in
grade school. My family was a normal, churchgoing, and two-parent household. My father
started to drink more when I was in my early
teens. Suddenly, he was distant and extra strict.”
“In high school, I was one of the ‘cool kids.’
I excelled in sports and played football,
basketball, and ran track. In track, I ran the
100-yard dash and still hold the Maryland state
class C record, which I set in 1979, to this day. I
loved running and knowing that I was the best.
I was not the best at basketball or football, but
I was the best at running. It was a natural high.
I graduated from high school and received
scholarships to run in college, but I did not
want to run anymore. There was no future in
running track, and I could not make a living.”
“During my second year at college, I attended
a job fair, and they offered me a job working
with individuals with disabilities. I took the
job, and they would pay me to go to school. I
worked so hard that I was too tired to attend
class and eventually dropped out. This is where
my drinking and drugging began. I started
drinking heavily, smoking marijuana daily, and
being introduced to cocaine. I had everything,
a job, a girlfriend, and a drug habit.”
“The crack cocaine epidemic hit in the late
eighties. The desire for more cocaine was
uncontrollable. I would stay up all night, start
to miss work, and along with my roommate,
we struggled to maintain the lifestyle. In 1989,
I recognized that this lifestyle was unattainable.
I still was not an addict, just a guy that had a
crack cocaine problem. In a moment of clarity,
I understood that change was necessary. I
needed to find a woman and settle down. I
met my wife, got married, and started a family.
We had four children.”
“I was still getting high but paying the bills. I
was functioning, and in my eyes, I was still not
an addict. I stopped smoking crack and started
snorting powdered cocaine. The cravings were
not as strong. I could run out of cocaine and
not be affected. In 2000, I started snorting
heroin to come down from the rush of cocaine.
Heroin helped me sleep at first but then grew
into a dependency. I thought I was still not an
addict. I was eventually turned onto fentanyl
when it hit the streets in 2018.”

In 2019, my son was in a bad car accident,
and the doctors prescribed opiates to
help him recover. He started to become
addicted to these pills. I warned him that
he comes from a family of addiction. My
father had seven brothers, and five of them
died from alcoholism. I tried to help him,
but he kept getting high. We were close,
and his addiction separated us. One day
in 2022, his girlfriend woke up and found
him dead from an overdose.”
“To deal with his death, I went crazy
drinking and drugging. One month later,
I had lost everything and was sleeping
in my car. I was an addict. At my lowest
point, I checked into a detox facility in
Chestertown, Maryland. I graduated from
the 30-day program, and a Peer Recovery
Specialist told me he knew of a perfect
place for me to go next, Helping Up
Mission (HUM) in Baltimore. I told him
that I was not going to anyplace called a
‘mission!’ He told me that it was more
than just a mission, and to prove it, he
was a graduate.”
“When I arrived at HUM, it was better than
I had thought. During my ‘blackout’ (45
days of limited communications), some
of the guys told me about the running
club Back on my Feet, and I joined as soon
as I came from the blackout. I had only
ever run sprints in the past, and I thought
running distances would be a mess. At
first, I would walk a mile, but now I can
do three miles without a problem. I lost
weight and lowered my cholesterol. Every
time a 5k race comes up, I am there and
will be running the 5k at the Baltimore
Running Festival on October 14th. When I
am out there running, I think of the past,
and I am just as happy finishing a race in
the middle of the pack as I was winning in
high school.”
“Today, having graduated from the
Spiritual Recovery Program, I am looking
forward to getting a job, my own place,
and everything I lost – except the drugs
and alcohol!”
“To the donors, thank you for helping me
and those like me. It is only through your
unwavering support that HUM is possible. I
feel like I am back on the starter’s line like I
was 18, but today I am starting LIFE!


Michael, age 69, was born and raised in
a small rural farming town of West Grove,
Pennsylvania. The youngest of five children,
Michael learned to be invisible. “My dad was
a heavy disciplinarian,” recalls Michael. “We
were very well behaved, scared actually. My
mother was emotionally distant. I spent all my
time alone in music, electronics, and books. In
second grade my teacher wrote my parents to
tell them that I just stare out of the window.
She thought that I was not paying attention,
when really, I was somewhere else.”
“I had my first drink at age 11. I would go
downstairs after one of my parent’s pinochle
games and drink any leftover beverages. I
never got a buzz. In high school, I started
smoking weed, taking speed, and dropping
acid. All my friends were into music, and we
would sit around, get high, and play. As soon
as I graduated from high school, I moved out.
At the time, I thought the trauma from my
parents was normal for everybody. I had no
idea that the abuse was not normal!”
“When I went to technical school for my
associates degree, I started working with bands
as a sound engineer. I was good at it. When
you are working with a rock and roll band, you
are at a club or bar every night. I drank, but
never to excess. I had a job to do.”
“My brother Joe did three tours of Vietnam.
He came back from the war a changed man,
but we became close again. 23 months later,
he committed suicide. My dad called me up
and told me to get my brother. I went into
the woods, found his body, and it destroyed
me. It took me 10 years in and out of mental
institutions to be able to function properly.
During one of my stays, a fellow patient was
given a lobotomy. They wheeled him into my
room with his eyes wide open and nothing
going on in his head. The orderly told me ‘if
you do not straighten up, this is how you are
going to end up.’ “
“My sister Jane had diabetes since she was eight,
and eventually would need a kidney transplant.
We made a pact, that when she was ready, I
would donate my kidney to her. One day
she called me and said, ‘Michael it is time to
come home.’ The first thing my mother said
to me was, ‘You can’t give her a kidney. You
do drugs!’ My sister was so mad at our parents
for trying to run her life, that she overdosed
on insulin the night before her transplant. 12
years after my brother Joe killed himself.”

“Eventually, I met a lady named Carol in
1983, and we were married for 22 years.
We started drinking excessively, but I
was a functional drunk. We began using
methamphetamines, which we would use
for the next 20 years. Eventually we got
busted. The cops came in, stuck seven
guns in my face, and off we went to jail.”
“By 2001, all that I wanted to do was lay
around and stay high. In 2005, Carol could
not take it anymore and told me that I
had to leave. I tried to commit suicide
two times. I do not know how I survived
even one of the attempts but ended
up at a hospital where they gave me a
dual diagnosis of drug abuse and bipolar
disorder. Shortly after my diagnosis, I
ended up at Water Street Rescue Mission
in Lancaster, Pa., where I began my
relationship with Jesus.”
“In 2017, I got pneumoococcal pneumonia.
It took a year for me to function again. I
could not work anymore and retired at age
65. To “change places,” I moved away and
abandoned my recovery network. I started
using meth and drinking again. And
then Covid happened. I started drinking
daily. I was not drinking to get high; I was
drinking for oblivion. After 3 years of this
lifestyle, and three black out trips to the
hospital in Elkton, Md, I finally heard about
Helping Up Mission (HUM). My nurse
gave me a number for Jason at Maryland
State Health. Jason told me about HUM,
picked me up, drove me to Baltimore, and
dropped me off.”
“At first, I was scared and not thinking
clearly but, everybody was so nice and
helpful. I was so angry and irritable that the
other clients called me ‘grumpy old man!’
By the third week, I knew HUM was where
I was supposed to be. There is a feeling
here that you know you are safe. I got out
of my comfort zone and joined the choir.
One day I was talking to the Treatment
Intern about the Bible, and he asked me
why I was here. I opened up about my
trauma from my dysfunctional family and
the deaths of my siblings. Soon, I was
talking to my Treatment Coordinator Todd
Starkey, and he helped me forgive them.“
“Really talking about my trauma made me
aware of other traumas in my life. HUM
offered a spiritual healing trauma class
which was helpful. I then read a manual
on trauma that was just neurological.
Soon, I was mentally able to absorb both
the therapist’s and survivor’s viewpoints. I
have been working on trauma a lot in the
past six months and just for myself, I took
HUM’s trauma class again.”
“I would like to thank the donors sincerely.
Without your support, this beautiful place
could not happen. You are changing
people’s lives.”
“To the guys like me who need help – If you
are not familiar with the Bible, and you
do not know much about Jesus, I would
look into it. The Bible has strengthened my
relationship with God.”

Jimmy is a Product of Your Generosity
“He said that I can have all the joy, if I do what he wants me to do.”
Jimmy B, age 62, was born and raised in Baltimore, Md. A child of the sixties, Jimmy was raised in an all-black neighborhood, during a time of segregation, but did not witness the tumultuous times. “I didn’t see the riots, but I grew up around them. My mom was protective of her children. We lived in a rough neighborhood, so she kept us in the house most of our lives. She was also a minister, so we stayed in church twenty-four seven. My father was abusive and an alcoholic, he would come home drunk and lay on the couch and sleep all day. Therefore, my mother had to work two jobs to keep clothes on our backs and food on the table. In 1972, her hard work paid off and she was able to afford a house and we got out of “the ghetto,” Jimmy recalls.
“I started getting high when I was 12 or 13. Nothing forced me to get high. I just enjoyed getting high. I thought that I was missing something. But I never wanted to grow up to be like my father.” Eventually, Jimmy’s father passed away from a stroke. The man that he did not want to become, Jimmy became. “I knew that I had a problem when I started losing everything. I never have a problem getting a job. But I would not keep the job, because I would get high and not go back to work. My father passed away in 2007 and I was still getting high. Even after everything that he put us through when I was a child, I wanted to get sober before he died. I wanted him to be proud of me. I still loved him, and I wanted him to see me sober. I finally got to my wit’s end in 2009 and decided to go to rehab.”
From 2009 until 2019 Jimmy was sober. “I was clean. I was doing everything that God wanted me to do. I stayed in church and was being obedient. Everything was working out fine. But eventually, I stopped being obedient. And soon things started falling apart. I became disobedient. All the things that I did to stay sober, I stopped doing. I stopped going to church. I stopped serving God. I stopped serving other people. I started drinking again. I would get one beer, and that one bottle became three, and then four bottles of beer. Just like they say in Narcotics Anonymous, ‘one is too many, and a thousand is not enough.’”
One day God spoke to Jimmy. “Why do you keep going back to bondage? And He spoke to me about obedience. I am obedient now and things are starting to work. I was not a thief when I was getting high. But I stole from myself. I stole my own joy. And when God spoke to me, He said that ‘He has stolen me.’ He put the food, the Spirit in me. He said that I can have all the joy, if I do what he wants me to do. And I finally have that joy, the gentleness in his kindness.”
In 2019, after Jimmy had relapsed, his sister spoke with him about pursuing sobriety at Helping Up Mission (HUM). “My sister knew somebody that used to work at HUM, and she said,’ why don’t you go ahead and try HUM.’ I had nowhere else to go. I lost everything. I had no car. I was down on my wits end and I came to Helping Up Mission with nothing but the clothes that I had on having not showered in two weeks. I came here, walked up to the door broken and they opened the door. They opened it with open arms and told me to come in. I was so tired.
At first, Jimmy just wanted to be left alone. “I did not have anything to lose and that hurt.” Over the past year, Jimmy started getting into good thoughts and sobriety was starting to become a reality. “Every time that I came to chapel on Fridays, I became motivated seeing the guys walking across the stage. I said that is it. That is what I am going to do, graduate the Spiritual Recovery Program. I stopped wanting to be left alone and began grabbing the young guys, talking to them, and putting them under my wing. I wanted to show them that they could have everything that they want, right now and giving them my heart. When I finally graduated and they called my name, everybody stood up and applauded. I thought man, this is what God was talking about. It made me feel good! “
Today, Jimmy is looking to retire at age 62 and loves his work therapy assignment as a driver for HUM. “I love driving and it is one of my passions. I like seeing other people have fun. But my plans may change when the new Women’s and Children’s Center is built down the street, maybe I’ll apply for a job and delay my retirement.”
“During my time here, you may have to do things that you do not like, to get what you need. You might need to accept the bad things that happen, because as long as you live on this earth, you will go through trials and tribulations. But this is going to be my life. My desire is to live a more fruitful life, live a simpler life. To All of the people that make HUM happen, thank you. I am a product of your generosity!

Paul P, 61, was born in Baltimore City. He was the youngest of four boys, raised in a family that liked to drink. “I remember my mother constantly, albeit gently, reminding my father to please not drink a lot. And my dad would say “sure honey, I promise that I won’t.” By age 7, in order to be a part of the family, Paul learned to mix cocktails and sooned crafted Harvey Wallbangers for the men and Whiskey Sours for the women. “I had no desire to drink, I just wanted to have fun and fit in. This was my family’s way of life, they loved to drink.”

“I withheld drinking right up to the legal age of 18, when at my high school graduation I drank to celebrate becoming an adult. I remember drinking beer and at some point I switched to Southern Comfort.” Paul’s first and overzealous experience with alcohol led to vomiting profusely throughout the night. It  was enough for Paul to experience the negative effects of drinking, and he quit the next day. He stayed sober until he turned 35.

After graduating from Towson University, Paul moved to New York City to pursue a career in theatre, his passion. After a successful period in show business, he joined the corporate world as a telecommunications trainer. Although he found happiness and success, Paul was not prepared for a looming trauma that would launch him toward alcoholism.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Paul was on his way to a business meeting at the World Trade Center. He had just boarded a subway train at Grand Central Station when the first plane hit the North Tower. In that moment, while in the subway, everything stopped. “I was stuck and terrorized.”  The events of 9/11 traumatized him so irreparably that he packed up and moved to Atlanta, where he began drinking heavily in isolation.

“I kept a pantry stacked with empty wine and vodka bottles from floor to ceiling. I was so ashamed of my drinking and the quantity of bottles, that on recycling days I would disperse them evenly throughout my neighborhood trash bins. And yet, a highly functioning alcoholic, I was able to work and maintain my daily schedule.”

“Around this time I became increasingly involved in ministry at St. Mark United Methodist Church in Atlanta. I reconnected with my theatrical inner spirit by writing, directing, choreographing, and acting in their drama ministry.” In 2017, Paul’s overindulgent drinking caught up with him. The church’s Pastor recognized his struggles with alcohol and alerted Paul’s brother David to the fact thatPaul needed help.  The family that Paul tried so hard to fit into immediately sprung into action and offered an intervention. They got him onto a flight to Baltimore and when he arrived they witnessed how bad his addiction had become. Paul couldn’t walk. The tremors from his new withdrawal rendered his legs useless and he had to be brought to the car via a wheelchair.  Paul was broken.

Upon returning to Maryland, Paul was admitted to a thirty day program at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda (NIH).  “This was physical recovery, I could walk again. Immediately upon discharge from NIH, my brother brought me to Helping Up Mission (HUM). After the intake process, David kept asking if I was going to be OK? And I said,” I’m going to be fine, this is good, I am where I need to be.”

During his first Friday chapel, (which is open to the public at 1:30pm) Paul heard our HUM Choir and Band perform for the first time and immediately asked “Miss Kim” (HUM Board Member and Choir Director Kim Lewis) to join. Once again, Paul found where he needed to be.

For the first six months of his one-year Spiritual Recovery Program, Paul traveled with the Choir all over the Greater Baltimore Area to sing at churches and community events. Engaging with other people through an activity he loves enabled Paul to feel accepted within his community.

After his blackout period (45 days of limited communication) ended, Paul became heavily involved in another community– Alcoholics Anonymous. “I got a home group at Canton Beginners; where I am now the secretary, got a sponsor, and started doing the 12 Steps.  I also started attending and participating in institutional commitments. Going out into the surrounding areas and meeting like-minded people, struggling with their own addictions where they are. I enjoy the camaraderie.”

Paul’s Work Therapy Assignments included work in the Philanthropy office, where he developed his interpersonal skills with donors. His new role as Graduate Library Intern enables him to give back to the men we serve.  “I work closely with Miss Betty, the library volunteer administrator, to coordinate and develop the book orders. But the most satisfying aspect of my job is helping the men use the computer, many for the first time! I’m just giving back to the place that saved my life.”

Currently, Paul is performing again with the Baltimore Men’s Chorus, where he recently directed and choreographed a cabaret at Spotlighters Theatre downtown. He is heavily involved at the Gallery Church Baltimore, his home church, working with Lead Pastor Ellis Prince.  Thanks to you, Paul has found a new family.

When Isaac “Ike” lost his father at age four, he was sent to live with his aunt in Dundalk. He lived an outdoor “Huckleberry Finn” life, learning how to swim and even becoming a boy scout. Unfortunately, because his uncle was abusive, Ike’s home life was unstable and he frequently ran away.

Change came when a basketball was placed in Ike’s hands. Instead of running away he would run to the basketball court, and his skills rapidly accelerated. People began to notice how well he played, and opportunities began to present themselves. Anything that Ike needed; shoes, clothing, and basketball camp were provided for him. He helped lead his team to three straight championships. Colleges took notice and offered 17 scholarships before he decided to attend St. Bonaventure in New York. But, free opportunities sometimes come with the cost of exploitation, and Ike was vulnerable.

Before his time in college Ike had never been high, but during Easter break he was introduced to heroin, which was the beginning of the end. Ike recalls, “It gave me an escape, and I had a lot of scars. I took to it like I took to basketball. Soon I couldn’t get away from it.” That summer he stayed home getting high, and when he went back to school he realized that he had a habit. At half-time in the middle of a basketball game, he first felt the effects of withdrawal, quit the team and came home to the one thing he couldn’t escape anymore – Heroin.

Life deteriorated. When Ike returned home, his opportunities gone, he became classified as a career criminal and would spend most of the next 30 years in prison.

When he left prison in 2007, Ike realized that “the things that many people take for granted I never experienced.”

Shortly after his release Ike got married, but everyone, including his wife’s son, thought that it was a mistake. “At first I was angry, but during the first year of my marriage, I understood completely. If I had not used drugs drugs during my marriage, we would have made it. We both loved the Lord. But I started using and that ended it. I still speak to her everyday. We are in a really good place,” he admits.

Eventually Ike wound up at Mercy Hospital for detox. “Right after I got out of Mercy this guy said have you ever heard of the Salvation Army? He gave me the address and the phone number. I truly believe that guy was an angel because I had no other options.”

A few years later Ike needed a change from the Salvation Army and turned to his sister for guidance. “My sister donated money to HUM. I called and spoke with a man named Kevin, and he said “we’ll take care of you.” I thought that these were just words but when I came in I felt that this was a totally different beast,” Ike recalls.

When he arrived Ike had very low goals. “I wasn’t aspiring to do anything. Never really had a good job. I knew inside that I was better but I didn’t have the will.” “My sobriety hinged day to day. I have a solid foundation here. I knew it was doable.”

“My foundation starts with God. When I went to Pastor Gary’s class I thought, what is this all about. But when I got to Alpha (2nd stage of our year-long Spiritual Recovery Program) everything fell into place. Everything he said made sense. The Bible made more sense to me which made it easier to apply to my everyday life. Soon Mr. Avolio and my counselors gave me the confidence to do it. (finish the program)”

People started saying, “Ike, you would be a really good peer advocate. Matt Brown, the Education and Workforce Development Manager, went the extra yard for me, he made sure that I got with the right people. Matt helped me with my resume. Brett helped me with everything that I needed on the computer. Soon, I started the classes and was number one in the class. 4 interviews the first week, 3 job offers in 2 weeks. And I chose Johns Hopkins, Thanks Matt and Brett. As a Peer Advocate, my job is to help you help yourself. I will advocate for you. I’ve been there and I know exactly what you are going through. You can do it, I did it.”

“When I was younger I thought I was going to be a basketball player, but when life took its toll, I didn’t care. Life is not easy, but life is a truly precious thing, I have had some dark days, but I’m making up for it now – waking up seeing the sunrise and going to bed knowing I did the best that I can do.” Ike believes.

Finally Ike says, “It’s hard to put into words how grateful I am to the staff, this place gave my life purpose, and I would not have been able to do it without them. HUM made a difference in my life.”

Robert is 67 years old and just recently celebrated three years of hope being clean and sober after fifty-two years of addiction. Better known as Blue by everyone at HUM, he explains that someone once joked about him being one of the Blues Brothers and while he didn’t see the resemblance, he loves the blues so he let the nickname stick.

Blue was born in 1950 in Baltimore. He started drinking and smoking by the time he was twelve. At the age of fifteen, a friend’s older brother introduced him to heroin. He explains, “It was just the sixties. I was a hippy. I was high through the whole time. When I wasn’t sleeping, I was getting high off of something.”

Blue recalls, “This is the era of Vietnam with the draft. So, guys like me didn’t really have anything to look forward to. None of us wanted to fight in some jungle that didn’t make sense. So, when I went down to the draft board I was extremely high, and I never got drafted.”

Blue was arrested for possession of heroin.

In 1968, a month after graduating high school, Blue was arrested for possession of heroin. Blue said, “I went on methadone after I got busted. My mother and father didn’t have a clue what to do.” They took him to a psychiatrist who prescribed the methadone.

During this time, he met his wife and fell in love. They were both on methadone for ten years, and then he detoxed off of it. His wife was taken off of it abruptly and overdosed a few days later. Blue gave her CPR and brought her back to life. After a few days she overdosed again, and this time, he could not bring her back. Blue was devastated and did his best to bring up his daughters without their mother.

“I got high for fifty-two years.”

Blue explains, “I was jumping from one thing to another. I was in a program; I wasn’t in a program. I was shooting dope; I wasn’t shooting dope. I was drinking because I would go to that when I didn’t want to do dope because I would get strung out on it. I smoked a lot of weed. I got high for fifty-two years. I didn’t get high off of any one thing for fifty-two years, but I was getting high off of something for fifty-two years. I didn’t go three months where I didn’t get high a couple of times.”

“I got so cold.”

In 2000, Blue lost his job because he was shooting dope and couldn’t work without it. He ended up homeless and set up a makeshift shelter between two buildings. After about a year of living on the streets, he found an old broken-down hearse in a parking lot. The back was unlocked and he moved in. He remembers, “I almost froze to death on Christmas Eve in 2004. I was dope sick. I didn’t have any money. I went into the back of the hearse and covered up with every piece of clothing and blanket that I had. I got so cold. I will never forget that.” He went into a shop and sat there to try to warm up, but was forced to leave. As he was walking down the street, a lady saw he was distressed and let him sleep on her couch and get warm. “It was quite a Christmas. It is not something I am trying to go back to ever. When I see [homeless] guys come in here at night, I know what it is like.”

Blue had been in and out of programs so many times

In January 2014, Blue went to Bayview Hospital to detox. He had lost so much weight and gotten into such bad shape that he couldn’t walk. He was sent to a rehab center to regain the ability to walk. He was physically getting better. But in September of 2014, he took some pills and drank a pint of vodka and woke up in an ambulance on the way to St. Agnes. The social worker at St. Agnes told Blue’s wife about HUM. He had been in and out of programs so many times and had always focused on the physical and mental health side, but never had he thought about the spiritual aspect of recovery. When he arrived at HUM, they told him that it was a year-long program and he was not ready to commit to that. He admits that he thought, “Oh no! I am gone. I headed to the door. The only reason I came back is because my wife stayed at the desk and stared at me.”

“I was in really bad shape, really.”

The first three or four months Blue struggled and did not sleep much. “I was in really bad shape, really.” When asked what changed for him, he explains, “I stopped fighting God. It sounds like something you would say because it sounds good. Just the difference of not having to fight.” His entire life he had been an agnostic. He could not explain the existence of God and the existence of bad things at the same time. Now he says, “It has been a relief not to have to understand, I know what I know. I learn what I can. I help whoever I can. I do the best I can.”

Each week, at the graduation chapel, Blue sits in the same place and jumps up to give a hug and hope to those who are celebrating their graduation from the one-year Spiritual Recovery Program. He explains, “I feel very strongly emotionally about what is happening here. I know what it took for me to do it – to come in here and go for a year. I’ve been out there for so many years, and I’ve seen how this struggle is with drugs and alcohol. To me, a year is a miracle. So, yeah, I hug them guys when they make that year because you started something, and you finished it. We don’t do that a lot. We’re good at starting things, but not finishing them.”

“I came to understand that God kept me around…”

Blue is a graduate intern here at HUM as a Treatment Coordinator Assistant and sees his role now as to help others who are struggling to get clean. “I came to understand that God kept me around through all that stuff. God let me survive all of that. So what’s the purpose? I am 67 years old. I spent 52 of those 67 years getting high off of everything. So, I can look at my life in two ways; I’ve wasted my whole life. Or no, I’ve put 52 years of hard experience to understand the stuff nowadays. So, I choose the second.”

Blue is well known at HUM. He explains, “I am a firm believer that the small things in life make the difference. The big [things] are going to happen to everyone. The little ones are gifts. When someone talks to you and they actually care, it’s something you remember. It can make a huge difference in the rest of your day. It might make a difference in the rest of your life. Care might be the difference between life and death.” This New Year, Blue will continue to do what he can to offer hope to the hurting.

Richard is no longer wandering the streets. Instead, he is spending this Christmas with family!

Richard, 58, has lived his whole life in Baltimore. Dad was a steelworker and mom stayed home, taking care of the four children.

Richard remembers his grandmother struggled with alcoholism and was reclusive. While he didn’t like that about her, he started to drink, himself, by age 13. “I was small in stature and shy,” he says, “and it helped me fit in better. It gave me ‘beer muscles’.”

Looking back, Richard says he was an alcoholic by 16.  Still, although drinking regularly and working a side job, he did earn his high school diploma.

But, at 19, his parents couldn’t tolerate his drinking and “invited” him to leave the family home.  On his own, and continuing to drink, Richard kept steady employment in local restaurants. A hard worker, he often received raises and promotions. Then, at age 28, his boss invited him to his first Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting.

It was a moment of clarity! Richard bought into the 12 Steps of AA and began faithfully working the program. A couple of years later, his girlfriend, the mother of his son, agreed to marry him. Richard remembers this as a good time in his life and he stayed sober for eight years.

But, he started getting bored with his daily routine. “Life got kind of stale,” he says. One day, Richard decided to take a drink – even though he knew he wouldn’t be able to stop. Within a year, he was divorced. While he cared about his son and saw him almost daily, Richard admits it wasn’t quality time.

The two of them became estranged when Richard was sent to jail for a year. In fact, they only saw each other once during the following decade – at the viewing for Richard’s mother after her death. By that time, his son was on his own journey of alcoholism… and recovery, with two years clean.

In her later years, Richard’s mother needed 24-hour supervision because she was now blind and diabetic. Still bored with his life, Richard moved into her house and cared for her – all-day, everyday for seven years until her death. But that was okay with him because he could also isolate from the world and keep drinking.

After his mom died, Richard remained isolated and drinking in her house. But after two years and numerous unpaid bills, his sister evicted him. Richard says, “While I wasn’t shocked, I still had no plan. I was penniless and had this feeling of impending doom. I cared, but knew I was powerless – and that it was my own fault.”

Then something happened. A friend tricked Richard into attending an AA meeting because she knew his son would be there. The two exchanged pleasantries and his son introduced Richard to two ladies at the meeting.

The next week, now homeless and penniless, Richard was standing on a Baltimore street looking at a store window display. Inside, one of the women from the AA meeting recognized him and came out. They talked and she promised to take him to an AA meeting where he could learn about a program that might really help him. 

As a recluse, Richard was afraid of programs, but agreed to go to the meeting. There he met three guys from Helping Up Mission who shared about HUM’s 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program. After hearing their stories and seeing how they were doing now, Richard felt a spark of hope.

But, it was the Labor Day weekend and there were no intakes until Tuesday. Richard prayed, asking God to keep him alive until he could get to HUM.

Then, an AA friend from years ago recognized Richard and offered to take him to his home for those three days. Richard slept on his couch, got cleaned up, ate good food and went to more meetings with his friend.

Upon arrival at HUM, Richard said, “I was looking for all of the homeless people, but I couldn’t see anyone who looked like me. The moment I walked in I felt hope!”

But Richard was in terrible shape – 115 pounds and couldn’t get up out of a chair on his own. And, after nearly a decade of isolation, being in the midst of 500 men on the HUM campus wasn’t easy. “But I noticed I was getting better,” he says. “My life was changing and I could see it. I could even look people in the eyes again.”

Richard’s daily work responsibilities on campus also required him to interact with many new people. He met guys serious about their recovery and they became friends, even helping him reconnect with his son.

Today they’re doing much better. “It’s amicable,” he says, “no longer about the past. He believes I am sorry. We love each other.”

Richard also reached out to his ex-wife and thanked her for raising their son. He even reconnected with the sister that evicted him.

This fall Richard celebrated one-year of sobriety and graduated from our one-year Spiritual Recovery Program. “I am truly learning what it means to live one day at a time,” he says.

Thanks to you…Richard no longer wonders the streets, isolated and homeless. As a HUM graduate he continues to live and work on our campus – and this year Richard will be spending Christmas with his family – at his sister’s house!

"I will spend Christmas at my sister’s house." 1

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Born in Chesapeake, Virginia, Doug Coffield’s parents divorced and he was raised by his grandmother at age five. “Grandma was like mom to me and living with her was the happiest part of my childhood,” he recalls.

But, at 12, he was sent to live with his now-remarried father and there was constant strife between Doug, his stepmother and stepbrother. So, by age 16, he started experimenting with a variety of chemicals – and alcohol became his drug of choice.

Looking back, Doug says, “I wasn’t addicted yet, just trying to fit in with friends. I was really shy and it gave me courage.”

Out of high school, he started working construction and quickly moved to driving trucks. “The big rigs came naturally to me; like I was born to do this,” Doug says. He became a professional long-distance truck driver.

He also kept up his drinking and using drugs. “Looking back,” Doug says, “I’d become an alcoholic in my early 20’s. I had to have a bottle of Jack Daniels with me in the truck all the time. By this time, I was getting high on almost everything – including doing speed (methamphetamine) to stay awake driving all night.”

Doug found peace

Then, at 33, Doug had a spiritual moment of clarity – in a prison cell in Hagerstown, Maryland! “One night in a bar, a guy disrespected my girlfriend (now my wife!). We got into a fight and I ending up shooting him in the thigh!” Charged with assault and attempted murder, Doug received a 50-year sentence, with all but 5 years suspended. He served 2 ½ years and was released on parole for good behavior.

During that prison time, Doug knew he needed the Jesus his grandmother had introduced to him. He started praying, reading his Bible faithfully every day and attending every church service they had. “It was a true spiritual awakening for me,” he says.

Upon his release, Doug shared it all with his wife. Together, they started attending a small country church regularly and Doug became very active, attending Sunday School classes, participating on the church council and singing in the choir.

“But the pressures of life started to build and I didn’t know how to handle them,” Doug recalls. “My wife would use drugs from time to time and my spiritual focus began to deteriorate. After about 6 months I started using again.”

“Sadly, that’s how our marriage has been from the beginning. One of us gets clean and the other doesn’t – then we both wind up using again, together! In my 40’s, we both got hooked on heroin. I was in and out of recovery programs – both in jail and on the outside.”

First arriving at Helping Up Mission in 2014, Doug really wanted to stop using – and he did pretty well here, but left and eventually started using again.

When he felt like he just couldn’t take it any more, Doug came back to HUM, willing to do whatever necessary to stay clean – for him and his wife’s sake! He says he knew he could not do this himself and really needed God’s help. “I’m going to do whatever it takes; I’m done. Take me and I will do whatever you want,” was his prayer.

That was the summer of 2015. He was 59 years old…and it was surrender!

After being back here a while, Doug says he got peace and joy back in his soul. He started singing in the HUM choir. “I love to sing and try to always do it from my heart – others can feel it, too! It’s an important part of my recovery,” he says.

This summer – and now a HUM graduate – Doug was invited to help lead an evening Bible-focused recovery meeting on campus. Doug recalls the night he was to lead it by himself. “I was scared to death and it was hard getting started. But God helped me and the guys encouraged me.”

“I just tried to talk honestly about myself and how God is helping me. I also shared that I don’t really know what God has for me, but am waiting patiently. Afterwards, one guy said to me, ‘God is already doing something in you and through you.’ That helped!”

Doug says people have started to respect him now. “That’s pretty amazing because for the longest time, I didn’t even have respect for myself.”

Beyond his service here at HUM, Doug is also involved with a community outreach in Brooklyn Park, where people whose lives God has transformed, are available to help transform others. It’s been very meaningful to him.

This fall, Doug also enrolled at Faith Theological Seminary, working toward an undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies. “I want to be ready for whatever God has for me,” he says.

“My wife is doing well these days, too!” Doug is quick to add. “She’s working and this is the first time in 
our lives that my wife and I have 
been clean together – God is doing something new!”

Doug laughs a lot more these days

Yasin Abdul Adi was born in Detroit, MI but, while still young, his family moved to Knoxville, TN – the places he considers his “hometown” today. Yasin says he always felt a God-connection and tried many things to deepen it – including 25 years practicing Islam. Here’s his story.

My high school graduation present was to be allowed to hitchhike to California and that’s when I experimented with marijuana, alcohol, LSD and heroin (but didn’t like the latter back then). In those days I associated getting high with new life and experiences.

Later on in life, we would sit around and get high, talk about the country and how bad it was; how it was for black people. I started using injectable drugs and eventually got around to shooting heroin.

I had some pretty good jobs during those years – iron worker, welding and data processing. But in 1984, after going through a divorce, I was put in jail for public drunkenness. Later charged with armed robbery – I received a 35 years! But I wasn’t a bad guy and, after 10 years, was paroled for good behavior.

I completed two years of college while in prison and, when released, enrolled in the University of Tennessee – earning a degree in psychology. With my psychology degree I worked as a youth teacher/counselor, wilderness therapist, crisis interventionist, community health coordinator and supervisor at a residential youth house.

But one of the things I struggled with was setting proper boundaries in relationships – I tended to get too involved. So, after working four years, I relapsed. And for the past 20 years it has been a cycle of crack cocaine and alcohol, getting locked up, getting out, using again and getting arrested again. It seemed like whenever I used drugs I broke out in handcuffs.

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When I was released from prison in 2013, my mother had Alzheimer’s. I’m really proud of her – she was the first registered black nurse in Tennessee and later joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee. I tried to take care of her and did well for a while…but eventually relapsed and wound up back in jail.

Upon release I went to Knoxville Area Rescue Mission (KARM) and joined their program. It was working for me but I relapsed again. KARM put me in contact with HUM and that’s how I arrived here early in 2016.

Along the way, I had given up on Islam and came to realize that there was something different about Jesus. He personified mercy, grace and forgiveness to all of us – even though we continually fall short. I had a transformational moment at a tent revival in Nashville when they sang “Have Thine Own Way, Lord” – and I surrendered. It wasn’t emotional…it was just time. Jesus is the only One who personified mercy, grace and forgiveness, while we continually don’t quite hit the mark. That resonated with me.

I love Gospel music…because I love Jesus…and was so grateful to be able to join the HUM band when I arrived here. Knowing I always do better in recovery when I stay involved with physical activity, I also joined the Back On My Feet running team (BOMF) here at HUM. But BOMF isn’t just about running – they also offer financial literacy, resume classes and community service.

So in October I’m running the full marathon in the Baltimore Running Festival, representing HUM and BOMF. I need a team because of my loner tendencies. And I’ve learned a lot from running – I’m learning to slow down.

I’ve benefited greatly from my mental health counseling here at HUM. So I’ve started working on a certificate in drug and alcohol counseling which will count towards my masters in applied psychology and counseling. It will take a couple years…I’ll be 66 when I am done!

But I’m excited to help other people my age gain insights into their own possibilities – of training, of enlightenment, of being aware of all they can still do and be!