Charles Kent, age 48, grew up in Owings Mills, Maryland. An only child, he was raised by both parents.
“Football was my main focus when I was in school. I was working towards getting a scholarship,” says Charles. “After I busted my hip my senior year of high school, I lost my drive and dropped out of school shortly after that.
“My parents weren’t happy that I quit school. But, they were in the process of splitting up so we were all going our own individual ways at that point.
“My paternal grandmother died when I was 19 years old. She had been a very big part of my life – I loved spending time with her and used to take her and her girlfriends shopping each weekend. Her death was very hard for me and I became very defiant. It wasn’t long before I started using cocaine. At first, I kept my drug use contained to the weekends. For years, I worked during the week and then did drugs on the weekends.
“I met a woman and moved in with her. We created a life together as a family raising her two children and the son we had together. We stayed together for seven years but my cocaine use was increasing and it got to the point where we just couldn’t make it work any more and I moved out.
“My cocaine addiction steadily increased from that point on and I was locked up for delinquent child support in 1995.
“After I was released, I moved in with a friend and lived on their farm. I was clean and sober and enjoying life. At the farm, I met a woman. We started dating and moved in together. About 3 years into the relationship, I started using again. Life felt boring, so I reverted back to what I knew best. I was keeping it to the weekends and she accepted it. I was working as a carpenter and wasn’t in the street running around.
“In 2010, we started drifting apart. My cocaine use was getting heavier and cocaine was taking me in a direction she wasn’t going. I loved cocaine more than her – even more than I loved myself. She walked away from the relationship.
“After some time, I decided that I wanted to change and I got clean again. During that time, I met another woman. We moved in together and eventually got engaged. We bought a house and I was working doing landscaping. By the end of 2013, I was using cocaine again and my addiction was out of control. I started running the streets and got into more trouble in 4 months than I had in all the years I had been using. It’s amazing I’m still alive. My fiancée had enough and asked me to leave.
“I went to a shelter and enrolled in a substance abuse program. After I finished the program, I came to Baltimore to stay with my mom. My diabetes was making me sick, so I went to the hospital to get it under control. I talked to a counselor at the hospital and she told me about Helping Up Mission. I had already been clean for 3 months but I decided to go get the help I needed to continue my recovery.
“When I came to the Mission I came with a stereotype of what I thought it would be like, but I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at Helping Up Mission.
“Through HUM’s education department, I started studying for my high school diploma. I’m ready to take the GED test and am just waiting for my test day to be scheduled.
“I am a carpenter by trade. While at the Mission, I heard about a program sponsored by the Associated Building Contractors (ABC) – the Jumpstart Program. It’s a skill program that prepares workers to enter the workforce in the areas of carpentry, electric, construction, plumbing, etc. I worked on my math skills, passed the entrance exam and interview, and just went to the orientation. In addition to providing you with training, you are paid a stipend while you are learning and they provide assistance along the way. They are helping me obtain my driver’s license and handle some legal issues pertaining to child support. When I’m done with the training, they will provide me with tools to get started and help me find a job. I feel so good about being a part of it and am excited to see where it will take me.
“I’m finally passionate about something. Life is really good for me right now. I’ve let go of all of the junk from my past. Talking to the counselors and the other men here has been so good for me. My heart is full of joy and there is no anger any more.
“I love Helping Up Mission! It’s been a big benefit to my life. The Mission will always be in my heart and always be my home.
“My mom loves coming to the Mission to see me as I have receive certificates for each phase of the Spiritual Recovery Program. I’m blessed to have her in my life.
“My long term goal is to get my own small farm. I’m looking forward to living on a farm and enjoying life.”