Charles, 48, was born and raised in Baltimore City by his mother and father. His family was not wealthy but they had everything that they needed. His parents sought to raise him with discipline. According to Charles, his mom “spoke it” and his dad “screamed it.”
When he was 13, Charles began smoking cigarettes, which transitioned to marijuana throughout high school. He attended Pikesville High School, where affluent students drove fancy cars and sported new diamonds. In an attempt to fit in, Charles began selling weed. “If you wanted to smoke it, I could get it. I was an “entrepreneur” with a substantial amount of money and this service helped me fit in.” During his time at Pikesville, Charles was arrested a few times and placed on probation for selling.
Charles maintained good grades and upon earning his high school diploma, his father begged him to go to college. “My dad offered to buy me any car that I wanted if I went to college. I regret to this day not following through with his offer.”
After high school his drug use unfortunately progressed. “I enjoyed the limelight, respect, girls, clothes, and cars that came with dealing drugs. It became my new addiction.” Charles was good at selling drugs, and he worked with successful dealers to learn how to do it even better. “It was my downfall, learning how to do what I was doing.” For the next 28 years, Charles used and sold drugs.
“I knew that I had a problem. In 2010 I came to the Helping Up Mission for six months, and in 2017 for seven. In May of 2018 I was at the end of my rope.” Two days before stepping through HUM’s doors Charles came face to face with God.
“I overdosed for the first and last time. In the ambulance the paramedic told me that I was dead. They hit me with two cans of narcan and were waiting for more to arrive. I saw God in the darkness of the overdose and heard the words ‘jails, institutions, or death.’ I had finally been through all three and heard God ask, ‘what more do I need to show you?’ I surrendered immediately in the ambulance.”
Charles began meditating on God first, for everything. “He has the last word. I live through His way, so that I am a servant and will be a witness to God’s good work.
Today, Charles is a Graduate Intern in client services. “I enjoy helping the guys see God plant a seed in them when they first get here, and watching that seed grow. Learning about themselves. I help them get the care that they deserve. If I can’t, I’ll find them somebody who can. We talk about anger, frustrations, stress, and where relapse comes from. I used to point the finger and let the darkness lead me astray. Today, I see the light. I also tell them that recovery literature and spirituality need to be balanced, and once they do that they will receive God’s path. When I sold drugs I provided a different type of service, today I serve God. At my first chapel upon entering HUM, CEO Bob Gehman talked about the staff at the mission being ‘All In.’ This really struck me and to this day, they are words that I live by. In my recovery I am ‘All In.’
Charles plans on attending Community College of Baltimore County in the Fall to pursue a degree in Human Services and Mental Health Therapy. “While signing up for college, I was looking to get a degree in Information Technology. I sat down at the registrar’s desk and she said that wasn’t the degree that I had signed up for…I was puzzled. She proceeded to show me my new student ID and then she read off my info from the computer and it said Human Services. I looked at my friend and laughed. If this was God’s will for me, I had to accept it as part of His plan. To this day, I still do not know who signed me up for this degree!”
Charles would like to thank you for caring and having the heart to serve “all of the lost souls at HUM. Thank you for keeping the lights on and the air conditioner going. The bible talks about living with the Holy Spirit in the fifth chapter of Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Thank you for embodying these principles in your heart to serve. “Donating your time is love, when you come and meet us where we are at. Thank you for bringing your own light to Helping Up Mission.”