Sarah, age 40, was born in North Philadelphia,
PA, and raised in Prince Georges County, MD.
“My parents were married in North Carolina
in 1963,” recalled Sarah. “In 1964, my mother
was thrown from her vehicle and became a
paraplegic. I am the youngest of five children,
and my oldest sibling was born with Cerebral
Palsy. At a young age, I became the personal
care assistant to my mother and sister, which
pulled me out of social assimilation.”
“Our family moved to the North Kensington
section of Philadelphia, where I was born
into deprivation. We had no hot water. My
mother, a functioning alcoholic (her mother
was a North Carolina “Bootlegger”), had
a nervous breakdown when she told her
psychiatrist that she would kill all of us and
herself. The psychiatrist told her not to rely on
her husband. My parents separated, and my
mom took us back to Maryland. I was doing
well in school, and as a teenager, my mother
even asked me to file for her divorce. Despite
all the turmoil, all her children went to college
and played piano. I attended Georgetown
University and received a master’s degree from
Virginia Tech.“
“In my late twenties, I did not like how my
mother drank. Her body was taken away
from her at a young age, and that is how she
managed to get through life. I still did not
drink. I got married at 24 and had my first
child at 26. We lived in Northern Virginia wine
country, and I desperately wanted to have a
family that my mother could not have. My
husband’s family was resentful of our interracial
relationship, but I put him through school and
purchased our house.”
“I began to drink with the encouragement
from my husband. He wanted me to ‘loosen
up’. We drank every night and had a rule that
‘shots’ would be done if you came into our
house. After ten years of marriage, he put me
out of my house. I came home one day, and
my children were not there.”
“I got an apartment, but could not maintain
it. I fell into hopelessness, but my ex-husband
moved on. In a momentary lapse of reason,
I got into a confrontation with his now exgirlfriend
and got arrested. I had been an
executive investment banker at Freddie Mac
and a vice president at Wells Fargo, and now I
had a criminal record and was homeless.”

“I spent my entire 401k on alcohol. All my life, I worked so hard to get what I wanted. I was always the one who got ahead. I went from a house to an apartment, a car, and a shelter. While attending Avenues Recovery Center on the Eastern Shore in Cambridge, MD, one day, I noticed a list including Helping Up Mission (HUM). I asked the counselor what HUM was, and they said, ‘I don’t know. It’s a men’s shelter. I immediately went to YouTube, found HUM’s channel, and found a video of Center for Women & Children Director Pamela Wilkerson doing a tour of the new facility. I decided to ‘Google Map’ the address and noticed the gigantic red heart on the next-door Ronald McDonald House roof. I immediately knew HUM was the place for me.”
“I spoke with Meaghan Yoho, Operations Manager. She warned me about the 60-day phone restrictions, and I told her that I was good with that. The next day, at 5 am, it was dark outside. The driver who dropped me off decided to check the building to see if we were at the right place, and we were!”
“I have learned that in order to stay sober, I have to face the things that I used to meet with the crutch of alcohol. I realized that I have to let things go, including all of the dread that led me to this point in my life. And I am being rewarded with much peace. I joined the Women’s Center Choir, ‘Voices of Praise’, and have been with Nikki Jones, Outreach Coordinator, and Choir Leader, since day one.”
“I am getting ready to start an internship with James Hill, HUM’s Director of Client Services. I look forward to helping other underserved clients get the help they need. Since I have been here, I have taken the LSAT test (in Workforce Development) and received a score that will allow me to pursue a law degree at the University of Baltimore. I have also taken and passed the National and State Real Estate exam. When it comes time to graduate from the Spiritual Recovery Program and get a job, Pam told me I would get her recommendation!“
“To the donors, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you for the opportunity to have a life again. I was living out of a trunk in a life-or-death situation. The ability to choose life is such a wonderful blessing. Helping Up Mission takes the love and support of strangers, whom I now consider friends that loved on me until I could love myself. Thank you to the wonderful HUM staff and leadership for giving me the family I needed. And to my daughters, I speak to weekly – I Love You!”

Robert, age 49, was born in Washington, DC,
and raised in Forestville, MD. “My mom and
dad got divorced when I was two years old,”
recalls “Bobby.” “My mother remarried quickly,
and my new stepfather was an alcoholic. They
had no money, so I went to my dad for help
when I needed things. I spent every other
weekend with my religious dad, and he took
us to the Catholic church, which opened the
doors for Jesus in my life.”
“Elementary school went well, but I started
to goof off by middle school. My stepfather
would come home drunk from work, bust
things up, and yell at my mother. I could see
the worry on my mom’s face. Luckily, he never
took things out on us kids. At an early age,
I knew what the disease of addiction looked
like. At age 12, I moved into my father’s house
with my older brother. I did not know anybody
at my new school, and in 6th grade, I started
making people laugh to “fit in.”
“I tried smoking marijuana with my brother at
11 but hated it. By age 15, I enjoyed smoking
‘pot’ and drinking alcohol. I developed a love
for partying and meeting girls. Looking back,
all that I ever wanted to do was be liked.
Maybe it resulted from my father showing
more affection to my older brother. Whatever
the reason, I dropped out of high school, got a
job, and continued my desire to party.”
“My whole life became one big ‘frat party’
centered around alcohol and girls, and that is
what I did for the next ten years. In my early
30s, I realized I was doing too much cocaine,
but I couldn’t stop. I maintained my habit by
spending three to four hundred dollars every
weekend on ‘coke.’ I got married, and that
seemed to slow things down for a bit. We had
a daughter, and life was good for a year and a
half. That is when I realized my wife was not
the girl for me. After two years, we split up,
and our relationship was exactly like my mom’s
and stepfather’s!”
“By 35, I was back to my old ways. I met an
old girlfriend – ‘the love of my life’, moved
in, and bought a house. From 36 until 40,
I enjoyed the best years of my life. I had a
well-paying job and a calm and peaceful
relationship with my love. At 40, I had become
a ‘weekend warrior.’ I worked hard and played
hard. I began using Percocet to get high,
which correlated with casinos opening in
Maryland. I would spend every day gambling
at Maryland Live, and one day I won $32,600!

I burned through so much money buying
Percocet that my habit became an opioid
addiction. Having blown through all my
casino winnings, I turned to the cheaper
alternative heroin.”
“My love had enough. I started stealing
from retail stores and even my family to
pay for my habit. I eventually got arrested
for theft, but that did not deter me from
stealing. I was 47 years old, homeless, a
petty thief, and in and out of rehab. One
day I was in a halfway house after relapsing
and overheard some guys talking about
Helping Up Mission (HUM), “That’s where
you get your teeth fixed!” They said it was
a one-year program, and I immediately
knew that is what I needed to recover.”
“When I walked through HUM’s doors, I
instantly knew it was the place for me. The
campus was beautiful. As the days passed,
I realized how special this place was in
addressing mental, spiritual, and physical
needs. I went to the recovery classes
and fell in love with Mike Rallo, Director
of Spiritual Life, and Vic King’s (former
Assistant Director of Spiritual Life) unique
way of hammering lessons at you. All the
staff wants to help you.”
“I did not want to return to my job in
construction, so I transferred to the IT
department, taking classes with Byte Back
Baltimore. I learned computer skills that
I never had access to. After a year in IT,
I realized that was not my job choice.
Laura Scott, a former HUM counselor,
told me they were hiring a Spiritual Life
Coordinator. I applied, and Mike and Vic
hired me to work for HUM. Ninety percent
of my job is working with clients all day,
every day. I enjoy taking the men on
retreats and outings, but the thing I like the
best is talking to the ‘Seeds’ – men in their
first 45 days in the program. I listen to their
stories and get to witness their hearts.”
“HUM has given me sobriety, stronger
faith, a lot of grace, peace, serenity, and
a new career. I have created a new life
for myself and my kids, who are doing
fantastic. After all that I have put them
through, we have a great relationship and
talk all the time. I plan to ‘stick and stay’
at HUM, and we will see what the future
brings. “
“To the donors, not one cent of your gifts
is wasted. Every penny matters and is a true
blessing. You oil this machine called HUM
that blesses the clients, their families, and
the city of Baltimore every day. I hope to
see you all someday. Thank you!”

George, age 52, was born in Springfield,
Massachusetts, and raised in Atlantic City,
New Jersey. “Growing up, my father was never
around, so my mother raised me and my five
siblings,” recalls George. “My childhood was
rough. I got my first job at age 13, working at
a car wash. We all worked to help support my
mom and maintain our house. The six of us
kids worked so much that we all dropped out
of high school. I dropped out of school when
I was 15, even though I was an ‘A’ student. I
did not drink alcohol or use drugs growing up
because I was responsible and had to make
sure our bills were paid.”
“When I was 32, I realized how important
education was and enrolled in school for
Network Security. My life was going well, but
by 35, I started drinking heavily. And by 45, I
began to hit my ‘rock bottom.’ I was working
in Atlantic City in the construction industry. I
would work hard all day and drink all night.
Soon, I would have a beer for breakfast and
drink throughout the day. I was a functioning
alcoholic. I never lost a job because of my
drinking, but I started losing memories,
stopped eating, and began isolating myself
from my family and friends. At the time, I
did not accept my addiction even though
everyone kept telling me that I had a problem
with alcohol.”
“By 2021, things went from bad to worse. I
was drinking all day. I always hung out at and
attended Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in
Atlantic City. The nuns at the church were
trying to help and guide me. A guy named
Jorge, who I used to drink with, was grabbed
by Pastor Victor and taken to Helping Up
Mission (HUM) in Baltimore. Six months later,
Pastor Victor grabbed me and drove me to
Baltimore, where I entered HUM’s Spiritual
Recovery Program.”
“When I came through HUM’s doors, I was
scared and did not know what I was getting
myself into. They took me to Mercy Hospital
for detox, and when I returned, I spent the
next 30 days in the intake dorm. It was rough.
I could not walk because of the ‘shakes,’ I lost
a lot of memory, had a tough time eating, and
went through a period of ‘night sweats’.”
“I am a visual learner. I started to see HUM’s
potential – this is God’s House. I began
focusing on myself, praying, and learning
about HUM. Knowing where I came from,
I never thought I would become an intern,

staffing the 24-hour intake hotline. I am
giving back by talking to people needing
God’s Help. I tell prospective clients to
come in, I will be waiting for them, and I
will get them into treatment somewhere.”
“When I first came to HUM, we had a small
Hispanic community of around 10 men.
Today, we have over 40 Hispanic men in
the Spiritual Recovery Program. We offer
Spiritual Bible study, mental health classes,
a Hispanic choir, guitar lessons, Hispanic
AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) recovery
meetings, and 12-step classes. They can
take ESL classes and get their high school
diploma in our Learning Center. Our
Hispanic community is thriving, and we
look forward to helping more Hispanics in
the community!”
“I am honored to get the chance to be
a part of the support team that provides
outreach to the community. We get off
the bus and see people looking for help
while under the influence. They look like
I used to look! Along with drinks, snacks,
hygiene kits, socks, and hats, we provide
the homeless community – with prayers.
Whether we visit Dundalk, Fells Point, or
Brooklyn Park, we provide relief and human
touch. And if we bring one person back
with us, it is a miracle! One less person on
the streets.”
“I want to continue helping people
experiencing homelessness and addiction.
With the help of God, I want to do this for
the rest of my life. I am blessed that Pastor
Victor grabbed me from Atlantic City and
showed me a better life is available. Thanks
to Helping Up Mission, I own a wristwatch
for the first time and am getting my driver’s
license. I am regaining my strength and my
spiritual life back. I am so close to God.”
“To the donors, you are a blessing.
Knowing there are people like you who
will bless a stranger with clothes, food, and
everything they need, put me in a position
to be hired as HUM’s Intake Program
Coordinator. I am happy that I found a
new life and a new beginning. I thank God,
HUM, my friends at HUM, and you for
blessing my life.”

Josh, age 38, was born and raised in
the Westchester, Pennsylvania suburb of
Philadelphia. “My family was not the best,
but not the worst,” Josh reflected. “As a child,
I never wanted anything. As an only child, I
often experienced loneliness, sadness, and
selfishness. Looking back on my childhood,
I realize that these were characteristics of
an addict. Seventh grade was rough, kids
started picking on my fashion. At the time, my
mother was on drugs and my stepfather was
a functioning alcoholic. We could not afford
nice clothes. Out of frustration, I started to
act up in school which might have been a cry
for help. Around this time, I began smoking
cigarettes and had my first drink. My friends
and I poured a bunch of different alcohol to
make a “screwdriver.” It was 100 degrees that
day and at first, drinking felt good, but soon I
was throwing up.”
“Shortly after, I started smoking marijuana.
When I was in high school, I would smoke
every day before, after, but sometimes during
class. I started experimenting with more drugs
including PCP and Ecstasy. Using drugs was
fun. I got behind in my studies and eventually
graduated from high school. At the time, I
was living with my grandma and began going
to trade school to learn about computers.
But I was living another life, selling drugs and
running with the wrong crowd. Trade school
started off well, but I was lost, and my head
was in a cloud. I ended up dropping out.”
“In 2006, I had a daughter, and soon my life
was spiraling out of control. I had a child while
I was a child myself. On Father’s Day, I smoked
crack cocaine for the first time, and I loved it.
In 2007, on the day after the fourth of July, I
experienced a Divine intervention. While in the
shower feeling terrible, something told me to
call my mom. At the time she was sober, and
she told me to come back home. I ended up
going to my first rehab and things were going
well, but I was not ready to quit my lifestyle.
Crack had a hold of me. The things that I
learned at that rehab stuck with me and for
the first time in my life, I felt guilt and shame
for using.”
“In 2015, my daughter was diagnosed with
cancer. No matter what the excuse, good
or bad, I would turn to drugs. This is when
alcohol got its grip on me – the only drug
that I could never put down. In 2016, I was in
another rehab in Philadelphia – The Salvation
Army. For eight and a half months, I managed

to get through the program while my
drinking continued. When they finally
caught me drinking, I was kicked out.”
“My real father was born and raised in
Baltimore and was running a recovery
program on the west side of the city. New
place but the same story. Alcohol still had
a hold on me, but I was doing so well that
I applied to go back to school. To celebrate
my acceptance, I had one drink, and that
one drink would turn into the roughest 3
years of my life.”
“Cheap vodka would become drugs and
other programs. In December 2019, I was
sitting on a couch in a room that smelled
and was full of cockroaches. How did my
life get to this point? I was “dope sick,”
homeless, and had nowhere left to go.
‘God, please take away this feeling!’ God
answered my prayers, and I woke up the
next morning. It was cold and I had $17 in
my pocket. I knew that rehabs worked, but I
needed to go to detox. I ended up at Mercy
Hospital and slept well for the first time in
a while. The next day, they asked me what
I wanted to do. I exhausted all my options
and called Helping Up Mission (HUM).”
“The next morning, I took a brisk, cold walk
to HUM. When I arrived, I had nothing,
and the mission was packed with people. I
wondered how I was going to be able to get
through this. I began to struggle and called
my mom and she said, ‘if you don’t do this,
act like I do not exist and lose my number.’
I knew she wanted me to stay. Soon, God
started putting people in my life. Reggie
Harrison, HUM’s Transportation Manager,
started taking me to church and I began to
get rest. The choir director asked me to sing
a solo at Friday’s graduation, which helped
me get over my fear of public speaking.”
“I began noticing people having success.
I began to commit to doing things like
going to spiritual retreats. I joined a group
called Brothers in Prayer and met fellow
like-minded graduates Demetrie, Lavell,
and Steven. I became an intern at HUM’s
barbershop, which helped me get ready for
outside work. I applied for a job and got
it! I worked hard and bought a car. I was
able to pay off my past student loans, so
I applied for college and got accepted at
UMGC! After this past semester, I have been
asked to join the school’s honor society.“
“My cousin ran into my daughter and
her mother and asked them to give me a
chance. This past Christmas, my daughter
asked if she could spend time with me,
and she did. My life was being fulfilled
and when Demetrie moved out of HUM, I
realized that so could I.
Today, I have my own place. It is not the
easiest, but I have peace and serenity. My
family is proud of me. I have gone from
selfish to selfless.

Tim, age 33, was born and raised in
Catonsville, Maryland. “I had a good family,”
recalls Tim. “When I was five years old, my
younger brother was born with Muscular
Dystrophy. I give my family a ton of credit. My
parents attended every concert and sporting
event. But the family dynamics changed
dramatically, and it was hard to watch my
brother struggle. I did well enough in school
to get a full scholarship to UMBC to pursue a
degree in astrophysics.”
“The first time that I used drugs was when I
smoked marijuana for my 18th birthday. My
first drunk happened at age 19 while attending
UMBC. Drinking was an exciting culture to
enter for me. Until then, I would play Risk and
make smoothies with my high school friends
for entertainment. I got a job at Tersiguel’s
French Restaurant in Old Ellicott City during
my first year. The restaurant industry was a
good fit for me. I had the natural charisma
to make personal connections and became a
good waiter. I started smoking marijuana 2-3
times a day. I worked while high.”
“During my junior year in college, I was
suspended for smoking marijuana. I
experienced a general malaise and decided to
switch majors to political science. While my
friends were willing to do anything to be the
best in astrophysics, I was willing to be the
best at work. I gave up real relationships to
work 60 hours a week. In 2014, I was doing so
well at work that I dropped out of college. At
Tersiguel’s my responsibilities started to pick
up, I studied to become a sommelier, and I
loved it. “
“In 2015, I was driving home from Richmond,
Virginia, and got pulled over for a DUI. I was
partying nightly to the point of blacking out.
Recognizing the legal ramifications of my
crime, I knew that I had to get sober fast. I
entered an outpatient facility in Columbia,
Maryland called Kolmac. I attended Alcoholics
Anonymous meetings and for the next 18
months, I was sober. I bought a house, moved
in with my girlfriend, and got a cat.”
“On July 30, 2016, I was working as the
General Manager of Tersiguel’s. It was a
beautiful night, and the restaurant was
bustling. I was in the cellar when the windows
caved in, and water rushed into the building. It
was like a scene from the Titanic. I thought that
if I could save one box of our most expensive
wine that it would not be a total loss. The

2016 historic flood of Ellicott City had just
destroyed the main street. It was traumatic.
The whole community responded well
and in October we were reopening, and a
coworker offered me a beer. My boss asked
me if I was making the right decision and
for the next three months everything went
fine, until it was not. I began hanging out
with an older crowd and was introduced to
cocaine. Soon I lost my job, my girlfriend,
my house, and my cat. It was my first taste
of “rock-bottom.”
“My mental health quickly deteriorated.
I placed the blame on everyone else
but myself. I ended up in psych wards
and hospital beds for self-harm. I still
did not recognize my addiction. At the
age of 29, and full of shame, guilt, and
embarrassment, I moved back home with
my parents. Once again, things started
going well. I got a job in politics knocking
on doors for a candidate. In 2020, the
COVID pandemic hit, and the candidate
I worked for dropped out of the race.
Suddenly, I was collecting unemployment
without a job for the first time since I was
15 years old. “
“I got a new job at a restaurant in
Catonsville. Around this time, some of
my friends died from their addictions. I
stopped using drugs as a result, but I kept
drinking every night. In May 2021, I got
my second DUI. This time I was unable to
stop drinking and my worried friends held
an intervention. The brother of one of my
friends graduated from Helping Up Mission
(HUM) in 2008. My parents gave me an
ultimatum check into HUM or leave the
house. My mom dropped me off the next
day and I entered the lobby with nothing
but a few dollars.”
“At first, I would ask myself what am I
doing here? I started hanging out with a
good group of guys that were done with
the grind of addiction. So, we started
to grind out our recovery by going to
meetings, doing step work, and getting
a sponsor. I completed my training to
become a Certified Peer Recovery Coach.
I joined the HUM Trail Team. I attended
Camp Wabanna. If a life-enrichment
opportunity were made available to me, I
would take advantage of it. Now I work as
an intern for our Workforce Development
Program. I love being able to help people
who are trying to reenter society get the
documents they need for success. Nobody
comes to HUM on a winning streak, but
we can help give them faith to rejoin the
“Thanks to the donors for making HUM a
safe place for me to reflect, rebuild, and
rediscover the things that make me happy
and sober. I have rekindled my love of
playing the steel drum with the HUM Choir
& Band and the music is coming back to
me. I am going to stick around, finish my
IT certification, and save for my future.”

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.”

“HUM is not just concerned about my addiction; they are concerned about the whole man.”

Jason, age 49, was born in Lodi, California. “I was born into a cult,” states Jason. ” One night, to escape, my parents grabbed me and my brother, loaded up the car, and headed out of town. From there we joined a church. I was in first or second grade at the time when my babysitter began to sexually abuse me. My dad was an alcoholic with a traumatic past. My parents had a traumatic marriage which was fraught with violence and anger. So I did not have a safe place where I could share about the abuse that was occurring.”
“The abuse lasted 5 years and only ended because of my older brother getting involved with drugs. And the only solution that my parents could produce was to pack us all up and move all the way across the country to New Hampshire. I would like to say that my trauma and abuse were dealt with, but that is not the case. It was simply a geography change.”
“In middle school, there were a couple of kids that spoke openly about their traumatic backgrounds, and they were ostracized for their courageous confessions. I wanted nothing to do with that and the seed of deception was sowed within me. I started to tell lies about my past. The lies worked so well that I lied increasingly until every part of my life was either hidden, manipulation, or deception. Growing up, being someone else was all that I wanted”
“I got married right out of college. With the pressure of being an adult, my first job, and being married my alcoholism really began. But my alcoholism really took off when I joined corporate America. I would entertain clients who loved to drink. So we drank a lot and often. When I was entering my forties, my father passed, and my childhood abuse came raging back. I slipped into depression and used alcohol to self-medicate. From the time that I was 40 until age 49 I drank around the clock. I was a 12-year-old boy functioning in a 49-year old’s body. My decision making, my relationships with loved ones and God, and dealing with my addiction were being managed by a 12-year-old boy. It was time to grow up!”
“I eventually checked into a 28-day program in Northern Maryland. We would have nightly meetings where folks would share that they have been coming to this place 28, 18, and 12 times. It was disturbing to me that this culture of relapse had invaded this sector of society. I met with my counselor and said, listen, I really love you, but I do not ever want to see you again. What do I do? And they said, ‘if you are serious about getting sober and addressing your story behind your story, you need to go to Helping Up Mission (HUM).’ I was sober for 5 weeks, severely overweight, battling the onset of diabetes, and terrified.”
“I showed up here with all those physical factors and wondered what I was getting myself into. My marriage was in a state of limbo. You are just looking at the scorched earth landscape of your life. There was nothing left to hold me back from today’s incredible level of freedom that my wife and I have. But my wife dove into our relationship. She dove deep into the Be A Loving Mirror (BALM) method of family recovery. Through BALM she was moved to deep compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. Today, we are rediscovering one another and reexperiencing our marriage. We have experienced Christ in some extraordinary ways this year. Also, my daughters were able to come into themselves during this process. If they are angry or happy with me, we can have an honest conversation. Our relationships have an authentic, open dynamic that has allowed for healing. A highlight being when they both came to my graduation and cheered me on.”
“HUM is not just concerned about my addiction; they are concerned about the whole man. They connected me with a nutritionist and a primary care physician who quickly put me on a strict diet. They plugged me into a group of guys who were exercising daily. I was introduced to a partnering organization Back on My Feet (BoMF) that uses running to help people get back on their feet. When I came to HUM, I could not run one hundred yards. But two weeks ago, I ran a 10-miler! I have lost 154 pounds. My blood pressure is good, and my diabetes is gone. I have had a return to optimum health!”
“Salvation is a gift. We did nothing to earn it. We are completely in need of it, but the price tag is immense. In our walks with Christ, we must accept Him for who He really is. Just as I must accept myself for whom I really am. If I am brave enough, accept enough, and humble enough, what is next is going to be the pursuit of that in my relationships with my children, my wife, and God.”
“There are very few missions that are helping severely marginalized and broken people. HUM is a place where the Holy Spirit and Christ penetrate, change, and save lives. Thank you for supporting HUM. We see miracles here. The problems are immense, and the need is great. Thank you for being part of the solution!”

“I stopped hiding from God and started turning toward Him.”

Terri, age 58, was born in Montgomery County and then in and out of multiple foster homes. “I was in three foster homes. I was never in one place for too long,” she recalls. “I left my third foster home when I was 18 and lived in Mount Ranier, Maryland for a year before spending the next seven years in Oregon. I came back to Maryland and got a place of my own. I worked different jobs. I worked hard, played hard, and partied hard. I drank alcohol since I was 10. At 15, I started smoking marijuana which led to harder drugs. Using drugs was social to me. I enjoyed it.”
“15 years ago, my mom was dying, and I got deeper into drugs. My relationship fell apart. I lost my job due to a failing economy. A lot of things were happening at once. Instead of drinking at 5pm, I started drinking earlier in the day which turned into drinking all day, every day.”
“Eventually, I got a little clean time under my belt, was going to meetings and staying connected but I was working at Giant Foods and living in a recovery house where I was assistant manager. I was tired and working too much, so, I stopped going to meetings, and quit taking care of myself. After a while I was going through physical and emotional pain and there was a liquor store right there. Instead of telling people what I was going through and reaching out for help, I made the decision to take that one drink. My drinking snowballed and I drank more and more. My house manager finally called me out.”
“One day, I heard a friend of mine Tina speaking to her counselor about Helping Up Mission (HUM) being a spiritual program. I asked her what she meant, and she explained that it had to do with God. I have been hiding from Him due to my shame and guilt and I needed to turn back to HIM. I was crying for help!”
“The hardest part about coming to HUM was opening up about the scared little girl in me. I had so much shame, guilt, and a lack of trust. I did not open up right away, but when I did, I jumped in with two feet. I started to relax and want what was being offered. I found a sponsor and took advantage of the therapy that was being offered. My faith is getting a lot stronger every day. I stopped hiding from God and started turning toward Him.”
“Recovery is a process. It is slow healing, but I have tapped into the things that I have learned about myself. Where in the past I would not feel pain and stuff my feelings down, today I feel what I am feeling, understand what I am feeling, and share my feelings with people I trust. I am happier. I came in with a lot of guilt and shame, but today I am smiling! I am laughing! I am proud of myself today, because I have a relationship with the Lord, and I live with a family instead of in an institution.”
“I mean, I will never get used to getting up at six in the morning, but I am grateful to be here. It is not easy, but it is doable. And when you put in the work, before you know it, you are feeling better spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. And that is important because HUM is a safety net. They give you the tools, give you hope, and give you excitement for what you can do. I am surrounded by beautiful people here.”
Today, Terri is the first security peacekeeper in our Women’s Spiritual Recovery Program, and as far as her future goes, “I do not try to look too far ahead, because all my life I have had instability. As I trust in the Lord, my faith grows stronger, people have my back, and I try to do the next right thing. I just want to stay at HUM because I am welcome to do so, and I am so grateful for that. I want to stay focused on my recovery and work on Terri. I have a healthy better life and that is all that I want right now. I trust what I am doing because I want this”
“I encourage people like me to give themselves a chance. Come in through HUM’s door and you will be all right. There are people here who care, there is help, and there is love. There is so much for you to do at HUM that you can have a better life. Give yourselves a chance to live instead of existing!”
“To the people that make everything possible at HUM. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are kind, caring, and amazing! I would love to meet all of you in person and thank you, because you have changed so many people’s lives – the ones that have come before, the ones that are here, and the ones that are coming. We NEED this! Thank you!”

Jose, age 50, was raised in Quakertown, Pennsylvania before moving to Philadelphia when he was 6. “We moved into the Erie section of north Philadelphia,” Jose recalled. “A bad incident happened between my father and mom, and he just disappeared – he went back to Puerto Rico and divorced my mother. I was raised in a church going family with decent values, I just went off the deep end as a teenager.”
“I remember going to the ballpark with my grandfather. I was close to him. One time he took me camping and was teaching me how to clean a fish. He looked at me, swung the fish, and it smacked me across the face! He laughed so hard that he peed his pants! That moment was a highlight of my life.”
“We moved into a not so nice section of Philadelphia, and I was told to change schools. The school was in a predominantly white section and there was a lot of racial tension. It was a challenge, especially being jumped twice and chased out of their neighborhood. Kids were just not nice and that is when I dropped out of school following 5th grade.”
“I took to the streets. We did not have a rec center or playgrounds that were safe. But the streets made me tougher. I learned how to hustle. I always had to prove myself, and I was fighting constantly. To get good clothes or a decent pair of sneakers, I took to selling drugs and made fast money. I started smoking cigarettes, then marijuana and drinking alcohol. But when crack cocaine hit the scene, it was something new for everybody. And it was socially acceptable to use it!”
“I met a girl who put me on a different path. I was dealing drugs in front of her house, and she said, ‘you’re better than this.’ We fell for each other hard. I would have done anything to be accepted by her parents and one day I was knocking on their front door to speak to them, and her father pulled out a .38 revolver and just starts shooting at me! He could have hit me, but he wanted to scare me! She told me that if I wanted to be accepted by her parents, I needed to do things differently.”
“I left town for Harrisburg and when I came back at age 20, I had a decent job, but her parents moved her to California. When I could not find her, I went off the deep end. I got deep into hard drugs. For a year, I was so depressed that I was trying to kill myself. So, I sought help for my addiction for the first time.”
“Around age 36, I met Pastors Dwight and Tony from Greater Grace Church and started going to their church in Philadelphia. And they brought me to Helping Up Mission (HUM) for the first time, in 2008. I had my first epiphany there. I was in the old rec room memorizing Bible verses and looking for Matthew 4: 19. Something tapped me on the shoulder, but nobody was there. I felt a warm hug, started crying, and prayed. I found Matthew 4: 19 and it said, ‘come follow me.’ That is where my spiritual journey began.”
“My second epiphany happened years later. I was packing up to leave my house and I reached for my 2008 seed certificate, and it fell to the ground but landed upright on the frame! I looked at it and said, ‘I am going back to HUM!’”
“My son was murdered four days after I came back. I became depressed but I decided to continue my recovery. HUM is where I feel the most fulfillment. For a long time, I wanted to be a contractor. Today, my number one priority is to go to Bible college, to continue in the ministry that I started with Haven City Church in Fells Point. I happened to arrive at the church when they needed help. Being bilingual, I was able to step right in and help. Now, I am driving their truck and have keys to the center! And soon I will oversee the food ministry.”
“There have been tough times at HUM. Particularly the death of my son, his mother, and my other children being homeless. I prayed hard for my other children and a family member from Chicago stepped up and provided a house for them!
“Today my life is different, God has shown me the way. I enrolled into Metro Baltimore Seminary. I stay in service helping others. I cannot believe HUM exists, what they are doing for us. HUM helped get my taxes done. Traffic legal issues have been taken care of. Workforce development helped me with my student debt. My credit score is looking good. And the Latino program that is growing here! “
“I hiked the Appalachian Trail. The campfire was awesome. It was special to reconnect with my grandfather, who I had camped with so many years ago. God created this blessing of nature.”
“Thank you (donors) from the bottom of my heart. Without your generosity, a lot of people would not get the help they deserve!”

January 2022 NL Feature Story – Scott W.

“HUM has helped me get new teeth, new glasses, expunge my record, and even try the benefits of acupuncture. There is just too much good happening daily.”

Scott, age 45, was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. When Scott was a child, his family did a lot of moving around. “I was in and out of school and always the “new kid.” I was also short and heavyset. This combination resulted in me always being made fun of. So, I dealt with the humiliation by learning how to become a recluse. And I recognized my first addiction as being food,” recalls Scott.

“I was born Methodist, but my father’s side of the family was Roman Catholic. I was uncomfortable. I felt like everything that I did wrong would result in me going to hell. I had my first drink at the age of 10, sneaking a shot while nobody was watching. When I was a sophomore in high school I was “hanging out” with the skateboard crowd and started smoking marijuana daily.”

“After high school, I was looking for a career. A lot of my family were either police officers, fire fighters, or in the military. My grandfather was a Marine, and he used to come over and tell “war stories.” I was intrigued. I always thought growing up that I was not getting the love that I craved and yearned for from my family. And if I joined the Marines, then they would be proud of me.”

“I impulsively made choices of the direction that I wanted to go in my military career. And that was not the best choice for me. I ended up having a breakdown and they put me in the mental health ward for two weeks. I had already been dealing with low self-esteem, from my parents drinking. My father was a heavy drinker and a terribly angry person. Prior to the military, I had dealt with a lot of childhood trauma, physical abuse, and mental abuse. The military made me feel like I was nothing and I could not handle it. They discharged me.”

“After that, I would escape reality. Whether it was drinking, going to bars, or smoking crystal methamphetamines. I was out there “ripping and running” two, three, four days in a row. This is when I realized that I had a problem. I did not talk about anything, and I internalized everything. I just wanted to escape. I worked job after job, had relationship after relationship, and even went to prison from 2003 until 2006 for theft. I just could not stop using.”

“In 2017, I was in the Howard County detention center. I told them that I was a common addict and begged them not to release me. I told them that I was going to die if I went back out on the streets. But they had already made the decision to release me. I found myself walking down Washington Boulevard heading towards Baltimore City when I stumbled upon this little church (Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church) in Relay. It looked like something right out of an old movie. I cried out, God if you are real, I am going to walk into this church and throw myself on the floor. I need help and I cannot go another day like this. So, I walked in while they were having a service and they invited me to stay. An interim pastor Josiah sat me down. He said, “I have a good friend chaplain Vic King at Helping Up Mission (HUM), and I am going to give him a call.” Vic reserved a bed for me in Overnight Guest Services (OGS), and that is when I started my recovery journey.”

“In 2018, I graduated from the Spiritual Recovery Program (SRP), moved out, and was doing well. Soon my meeting attendance started dropping and I was not being open and honest with myself. But the seed of recovery had been planted and I knew that I had to come back to HUM. I enrolled as a Graduate SRP member and graduated again in 2020. Unfortunately, I was moving too fast, and I left the program in order to deal with life on my own terms. That did not work out. One day, I was lying there ignoring phone calls when I got a call from Frank Haddix (Client Services Manager). I answered it, started crying, and told him that I could not live like this anymore.”

“Once again, I came back to HUM. This time I walked through the doors and told God, “I am completely free of myself. I am open and willing to surrender to You. That is why I am going to college. I want to help people that suffer from the same disease that I suffer from. I just want to serve the Lord in everything that I do. With my degree, the first in my family, I want to become a licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor. I have recently been offered an intake intern position. When I was a Marine, I was an infantry man, and now I will be working on the front lines of recovery!”

“HUM has helped me get new teeth, new glasses, expunge my record, and even try the benefits of acupuncture. There is just too much good happening daily. And I just want to thank you for your kindness. Guys come here with nothing and leave with everything. You are appreciated and I am living proof!”