August NL 2021 Feature Story Michael C.
Thanks to You Michael is Ready to Say Yes
“When you combine a healthy active lifestyle with everything that HUM has to offer you have a ‘recipe’ for success.”
Michael, age 34, graduated from Helping Up Mission (HUM) in 2019 and in October 2020, was hired as our Philanthropy Coordinator. Although his journey of life-transformation has at times been rough due to anxiety and depression, today Michael will be preparing for his next step leading Team HUM at the 2021 Baltimore Running Festival.
Born and raised in Toms River, New Jersey, Michael grew up the youngest in a loving family of five. “I was first introduced to the team sports of soccer and baseball when I was 5. I really enjoyed the team aspect and competitive nature of sports with my friends. Toms River still is a hotbed of youth sports,” states Michael.
“During high school, I was a good student, played baseball, and ran track. I was a long-distance runner. The summer going into senior year I experimented with marijuana because of peer pressure. At first it was a weekend distraction that slowly progressed to a daily activity. Marijuana helped ease my mind and allowed me to escape my negative thoughts. Regardless of my early stages of addiction, I was able to graduate high school and move on to college at Rider University to study marketing.”
“While in college, I continued smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol on a regular basis. I was able to keep myself together and graduated college with a degree in marketing. The summer after graduation, I started my own ice cream business on Long Beach Island a popular summer tourist location on the Jersey Shore. Things were going good, despite my inability to deal with my mental health issues and drug use.”
“Eventually harder drugs were introduced to my lifestyle as the marijuana and drinking stopped doing their “job.” Honestly, opioids allowed me to become more outgoing. In 2017, I decide to get away from my negative influences in New Jersey and move to Maryland with my sister for a fresh start. I thought that a change in location would provide a change in my situation, but that is not what I found. Instead, my drug use continued. Looking at the prospect of becoming homeless or getting help – I chose the help that I desperately needed. “
Michael came to HUM and completed our one-year Spiritual Recovery Program. “After graduation, I started working and stopped focusing on my recovery. Instead, I was so worried about making money that I got away from the intensive substance abuse programs at HUM and relapse became part of my story. I realized that I learned a valuable lesson in keeping recovery in the forefront of my journey. I recognized the hope and peace of mind that HUM provided, and I reenrolled a couple of months later.”
“This time I did things differently. I started listening to people who had been successful in returning from addiction and I focused on the programs instead of rushing back to work. Sometimes sitting still is better than making a rash/emotional decision. Eventually a job opened up in our Philanthropy Department and Pete Griffin, Assistant Director of Programs, thought that I would be a great fit. In October 2020, I was hired which brings us to today.”
“My primary responsibility is to handle our Gifts-In-Kind (GIK) program for the mission in addition to supporting many Philanthropy initiatives/projects. GIK provides much needed clothing and essential toiletries to the 540 men and women that we serve. I remember how great it felt as a program member to receive these “blessings.” Now I get to see the work that I do have a direct impact on my friends in the program, which makes it rewarding.”
“I am also proud to be this year’s 2021 Team HUM Captain for the Baltimore Running Festival. Running is in my family. My brother competed in the Olympic time trials for marathons and as a former long-distance runner myself, I understand the importance of the team’s motto: One Life at a Time, One Mile at a Time. On October 9, two hundred men, women, and children will join me in raising awareness and critical funds while representing HUM. These funds will help save people from the devasting grips of addiction. Throughout the years at Helping Up Mission, exercise and healthy eating habits have been a big part of my recovery. Fitness has helped me learn discipline which was much needed in my life. I also realized how much these things helped with my mental health as well. When you combine a healthy active lifestyle with everything that HUM has to offer you have a ‘recipe’ for success.”
“Growing up, I never imagined living and working at a Baltimore City rehabilitation center. It is funny where God leads us, but I trust in His plan. I hope to continue working at HUM and giving back to the place that helped save my life. Whether it is leading a team at the Baltimore Running Festival or securing vital GIK donations for our clients, I am ready to say ‘Yes.’”