Thanks to you, Kirk is enrolled in seminary and training for a half-marathon!

Kirk Wise grew up in Jessup, MD. “Music has always been a part of my life,” says Kirk. “I was 5 years old when I first sang up front in church. Church was an integral part of my childhood. I brought everyone to church with me when I was in high school.

“During my sophomore year of high school, my older brother and some of his friends took me out to celebrate after one of my football games and introduced me to alcohol. I only drank socially at first.

“At the end of my senior year, I had a football injury. Although I received scholarship opportunities, they were limited compared to what they would have been had I not been injured. I went to Frostburg State.

“My injury took a big toll on me emotionally. By the end of the first semester, I started getting into physical altercations and became aggressive in practice. Things escalated and I didn’t see a future there. I went home and enrolled in classes at Howard Community College.

“The doctor had been prescribing me narcotics because of my football injury.  When I was introduced to heroin, I realized that it took the pain away. It took away my feeling of being worthless and down on myself because of football and the injury.  I became dependent on heroin but was still able to go to classes at first.

“At the age of 21, I realized I had an addiction problem. I entered into a methadone maintenance program. I stopped going to school but was working. I was in and out of rehab programs.

“In 2005, at the age of 30, I married my wife, Delisha. She knew about my addiction but did not know the extent to which I was struggling. My addiction progressed into a daily thing and I wound up in Montgomery General Hospital in 2009.  They referred me to Helping Up Mission.  I stayed at HUM for 3 or 4 months and did well. When I left the Mission, I was clean. I felt like I needed to go back home and get back to work to support my wife and our four children.

“About two months later, I started drinking again.  Eventually things got bad and I came back to HUM again in 2010.  I was at HUM for 6 months but had to leave because I started drinking and tested positive for alcohol.

“My drinking picked up much faster this time.  Every morning, the first thing I did was drink.  I got to the point where I was drinking up to a gallon of vodka a day.

“In 2012, I lost my grandparents back to back and my brother died in 2013 of a heart attack.  Things got very bad as I mourned for them.  My relationship with my wife was strained and I lost my job.
“I was hospitalized four times within six months. My wife and the nurses told me I needed to come back to HUM.

“I was relieved to be back at the Mission – it felt like a big weight had been lifted off of me.  I realized in that moment that I needed to surrender and admit that I didn’t know how to live successfully.  I had to get my pride out of the way and humble myself.  I was finally at the point were I could receive help.

“I’m a member of HUM’s running team through Back on My Feet (BOMF).  Running with the team is a great way to start the morning and the day.

“Running takes away my fears, doubts, stress and anger.  It makes me feel confident and it builds my self-esteem.  BOMF members encourage me and it’s a pleasure to be with people who truly care.

“Running long distances is all new for me.  I’m registered to run the half marathon with Team HUM at the Baltimore Running Festival on October 17th.  I’m currently in training and very excited for it!

“Not long after arriving at HUM, I got plugged into the choir. I’d been hesitant to jump back in. I prayed about it and realized my singing is a gift to be used for God’s glory. The choir welcomed me with open arms. I felt accepted and released the guilt and shame of my previous recovery attempts.  In that community, I had people around me who wanted me to succeed. I got to sing at the Mission’s annual Graduation Banquet this past April. It was cool to be able to embrace both my music and recovery together.

“My relationship with my wife and kids is getting much better.  I can see the damage that my years of addiction have caused to my family.  I can see what needs to be done for my family and I am prepared to do it.

“I am currently working as a music intern at HUM. I direct the choir and help with the band and setting up the equipment for the weekly chapel service.  It gives me peace to be able to do something I love and see it bless other people.

“I just started attending seminary to get theological training. After I graduate from the Mission in November, I want to be used by God in ministry to help build His Kingdom here on earth.”

Thanks To You Wayne Has New Life – And His Diploma!

Wayne Chisolm, 44 years old, was born in Brooklyn, New York. “My Grandmother raised my 5 siblings and I,” says Wayne. “My Mom lived nearby and was in the picture but she didn’t live with us. She had a very bad drinking problem and was doing the best that she could. My Dad was very abusive to my Mom and was barely in the picture. By the time that I was 11 years old, he was gone.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t really drinking. Whenever I drank, I always got sick and I hated getting sick so I didn’t do it.
“I fell into the wrong crowd at school and played hooky a lot. I got my first job when I was a junior in high school. I loved it so much that I stopped going to school.
“In 1998, I started dating a woman that I had known since we were young. We eventually became engaged. In 2000, I moved to Maryland. I was happy with my life – working jobs and living a good life.
“In 2013, at the age of 43, I started hanging out with bad company. They were smoking crack cocaine. They told me not to mess with it but I thought that I was a man, I could handle anything. I could do it once – no big deal! I was wrong – after I tried it once, I was in love. I had 5 months of hard addiction and ended up resigning from my job.
“I hadn’t lost everything yet but I knew I was out of control. I called a friend and admitted my situation to him. He told me about Helping Up Mission and I was ready to go – I was willing to do whatever it took. I told my fiancé I was going to get help. She told me she had known all along and was waiting for me to tell her.
“When I first arrived at the Mission, I was impressed with how welcoming it was. To be honest, it took me a few months to mentally commit to completing the program. I had money in my pocked and, as I looked at the doors, I knew they weren’t locked. I could leave any time I wanted to. But, I came to realize that that would defeat the purpose. I could choose to fight or surrender. I am happy to say, I never walked out that door.
“Soon after arriving, I received my first work therapy assignment – cleaning one of the bathrooms. I didn’t like it one bit. Over time, I stopped looking at is as cleaning toilets and started looking at it as a part of cleaning myself. I took that time cleaning the bathroom to think about how to work on myself. Over time, please started to notice a change in me.
“At first it was hard to get used to the other people here – there are so many different characters. That was a challenge at first for me because I used to not put up with that many people. But, I started to remember that they are human too and we are all here for the same reason – to fix ourselves.
“In addition to my work therapy assignment, I volunteered to work in the kitchen. After 4 months, my work therapy assignment was transferred to the kitchen. I love interacting with the guys in the program when I work in the kitchen! After a few months, a few intern position opened up. I was shocked to learn that I had received one. I love being able to encourage and give advice to the men that work in the kitchen with me. It’s not just a job for me – I am invested in helping them with their life and their recovery. I know it isn’t easy to open up to people and I don’t take it for granted that they confide in me.
“I am working on getting my high school diploma. I’ve always wanted to get it but, because I always had a job, I thought I didn’t need it. I realized that if I didn’t make the time to do it now, I’d never do it and I decided to go for it.
“I joined the Helping Up Mission chapter of Back on My Feet. I had always wanted to be able to run a couple of miles and I admired the cool track suits and sneakers that the team members had. Once I joined the team I realized it was so much more. It’s about teamwork, effort and owning up to your word. When you are part of a team, people rely on you. I was worried about running because I had gained weight but no one laughed at me. It’s such a great group of people!
“My relationship with my fiancé today is amazing. After arriving at the Mission, I started talking with her over the phone. We talked every singled day – praying and reading the Bible together. We waited till I was in the program for 6 months before we met up in person.
“When she first saw me again for the first time, I could see the excitement on my face. She said that I was the man she had missed. We went out to dinner and sat and talked for hours. We are still together and are doing even better than we ever had before. She is my best friend.

“I love where I am today. I like this new Wayne and I know that I will never go back to being that old guy again. The old Wayne has been cremated and gone. That’s a non-negotiable – I will never go down that route again!

Thanks To You… Terrance’s life has been transformed!

Terrance McBride, age 47, grew up in Baltimore, MD.  “My parents were divorced,” says Terrance.  “My Mom raised my sister and I by herself.  She struggled but did the best that she could.  When I was 16 years old, she decided that she was done raising kids and sent us to live with our father.

“My Dad and his girlfriend were both alcoholics. They lived in an urban neighborhood very different from the neighborhood I had grown up in. I had never been in that type of environment before and felt like a fish out of water.   As part of my attempt to fit in, I tried alcohol and marijuana… and eventually cocaine and heroin.
“I ended up mostly drinking and smoking marijuana. I didn’t think I had a problem. I kept mostly to myself because the drug usage and violence in the neighborhood were intimidating to me.

“After 2 years, there was an incident with some of the guys I was hanging out with. My Mom brought me back to Virginia to finish school. There was a neighborhood lady there who used to take me to church. That’s when I was introduced to Christ. I was baptized and became a member of the church.

“After graduation, I moved back to Baltimore and lived with my Grandmother. We got along well and she was my rock. I started going through my loneliest periods. I didn’t realize how introverted I was becoming because of my marijuana use and I suffered through a long season of depression.

“In 1995, I tried to kill myself for the first time after a rough break up. I got through it but I was never treating the depression – just going through the motions. Marijuana became a medication for me. As long as I was high, I could deal with my demons but I wasn’t able to function sober. I was working but I had no social life. I rarely went outside except to get marijuana and cigarettes– some days I would play video games all day long. Life was a struggle for me. I would wake up irritated that I was alive and had made it through the night.

“In 2001, I started working at the Starbucks inside BWI airport. I loved it and started interacting with the customers while I was working. After a year, I was given the opportunity to transfer to a new Starbucks inside of a downtown hotel. I was there for 5 years and was given the opportunity to supervise a location.

“I had gotten my own place and was doing well on the surface. But, my marijuana use and my mood swings were increasing. I was overwhelmed by depression and loneliness and eventually lost my dream job. I was on very shaky ground and started contemplating suicide again.

“In November 2012, my Grandmother passed away. I was angry because I felt like she left me. I never was able to get back any sense of footing.

“I was looking for jobs unsuccessfully. I didn’t have anywhere to live so I moved in with my Aunt. She was dealing with depression herself and our relationship struggled. One day, in the height of my struggles, I tried to strangle myself. I was unsuccessful and ended up calling the suicide hotline.

“I was hospitalized for 6 days. While I was there, my Aunt called to tell me that I would need to find somewhere else to live. I had no idea where to go and decided that I would kill myself after I was released from the hospital. I started thinking about how I was going to do it. I didn’t have any money so I wasn’t smoking marijuana. I was in a deep depression and didn’t see any hope for my future.

“A psychiatrist at the hospital told me they were trying to find a place for me to go. He told me about Helping Up Mission. I was unsure of what to expect but even the prospect of a place to go started to relieve some of the weight on my shoulders.

“I didn’t realize till I arrived at the Mission that the program was a spiritual program. I was so excited to learn of this unexpected blessing. I felt right at home and knew that I would be able to do it! I was very comfortable talking with the pastors on staff and could see that this was a brotherhood.

“I got into counseling and started getting things off of my chest. I learned techniques that enable me to get through bad moments. I started reading the Bible. Little by little, life became easier.

“I’ve really experienced a total transformation. I don’t expect that life will be a picnic in the future. I realize that even after I graduate from the Spiritual Recovery Program I will face challenges but I know that I’m making good decisions now.

“My worst days are gone. If I’m ever feeling down, I know how to deal with it. My counseling appointments are so helpful. I now have the tools to deal with my depression and bad feelings. I don’t have to smoke marijuana and play video games to escape any more.

“I am studying and reading books and thinking about becoming a behavioral counselor. I enjoy interacting with the guys at the Mission and letting them know they are going to be okay. I see myself in the guys who have newly entered the program.

“I’m involved in work therapy here at the Mission and I set little goals. I set a goal to become a HUM intern and I’m now an intern in the rec room. I’m having more fun sober than I did on my best day while I getting high. I relate much better socially now. I spend time with my Aunt and Uncle – they are very supportive of my journey here

Thanks To You … Bryan is enrolled in culinary school and is employed as a chef!

Bryan Modecki was born in Baltimore. “I had a rough childhood,” says Bryan. “My father was never in the picture and my mother struggled with drugs and alcohol. She was abusive but I know she was doing the best she could and I still love her.

“My mom let my brother and I do pretty much whatever we wanted. I started using drugs at age 14 and it wasn’t long after that I started selling drugs as well. I went to Dundalk High School. I made it through the 11th grade. At that point, I realized I was making more money selling drugs than my teachers were making so I decided to drop out of high school.

“I served my first jail time when I was 18 years old and I got my high school diploma while I was behind bars.

“When I was 24, I was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a possession with intent to distribute charge. I did eight years of that sentence and was released when I was 32 years old.

“I started using and selling drugs as soon as I got out. My heroin habit got bad very quickly and that affected my sales. Things went downhill from there. I was staying here and there with relatives and anyone that would have me. I was weary of trying to come up with money to get high and places to stay.

“I started searching for God. I started reading the Bible and other religious materials looking for God. I sat at a bus stop and prayed and asked God to help me.

“I went to Johns Hopkins Bayview in search of help. They admitted me and I stayed there for a week and a half. When I was discharged, they recommended that I come to Helping Up Mission.

“On the cab ride to the Mission, I started to put myself into a survival mindset like I would on my way to jail. When I arrived at the Mission, I was completely surprised! I had no idea anything like this existed around here. I grew to really like the place and I could see miracles happening around me.

“Unfortunately, I started wanting to hang out with girls and old friends. I had some money in my pocket and thought I didn’t need HUM anymore. I went out with a girl and got high. I came back to the Mission 2 days later to pack up my stuff and leave.

“After I left the Mission, I was back on the streets – selling and using. Staying at HUM had been part of my probation. Six months after I left the Mission, I went to see my probation officer. She said if I didn’t get back to the Mission, I was going to jail.

“I came back to HUM in July 2013. The first time I was here, I wasn’t focused. I didn’t really work on the things that I needed to deal with. I didn’t stay away from the things I should. This time, I actually gave myself a chance to do something different. I knew my triggers and avoided them.

“For the first 6 months, I only left the Mission to go to meetings. I stayed focused on my recovery.

“I started thinking about what to do with my life. I didn’t want to do manual labor for the rest of my life. I realized my best option was to get training and I decided to go to culinary school. I received grant money and a loan and enrolled in Stratford University in Baltimore in January 2014.

“I have done very well in culinary school. In September, I learned that I was the recipient of a scholarship that was awarded based on an essay I had written on the topic of how culinary school had changed my career.

“I started running with the Helping Up Mission chapter of the Back on My Feet running team. I run a few miles every day and participate in every race that I can. My goal is to run a marathon.

“I was asked to speak at the annual Back on My Feet Bash in November. The Bash was held at the Marriott. After I left the stage, two Marriott executives approached me and asked me if I would like to interview for a position as a chef. I was in shock—I had never held a job before. All my life, all I’ve ever known is selling drugs.

“As I was sitting there, taking it all in, another man approached me. In my speech, I had referenced being self-conscious about my poor teeth and how I feel they are a hindrance to my career. This man offered to set me up with a dentist and pay for my dental care.

“That following Friday, I got information about my scholarship, I interviewed for, and got the job at Marriott, I received the information about the dentist and got an e-mail telling me that I had made the honor roll! What a day! I can’t believe how everything is coming together for me. I now know that God is guiding me and He has a plan for me.

“I am reconnecting with my family. I enjoy visiting my mom and cooking for her. My brother is in prison and I send him money when I can. I visit his kids and go to their sporting events.

“I am thankful for Helping Up Mission and call it my home. They basically gave me the chance to save my life. They are the reason I have the chance to do all of this!”

Thanks To You… Brandon was able to receive critically needed medical help!

Brandon Boggs, age 26, was born in Annapolis, Maryland. “My parents divorced when I was 2 years old,” says Brandon. “My mom raised my older brother and me. When I was 3 years old, my stepfather came into the picture. He abused me, my mom and my brother mentally and physically. I was 12 years old when adults in my life started to notice physical signs of the abuse. Two families offered for me to come live with them. I told my mom that I wanted to leave and she decided that we would move out together.

“Around that same time I started hanging around with a neighbor who introduced me to marijuana. I started drinking when I was in my senior year of high school. After I graduated from high school, I wanted to leave the area and decided to go to West Virginia University. That wasn’t a good choice for me because WVU had a reputation for being a big party school. I quickly got involved in the party scene.

“During the second semester of my freshman year, I met my girlfriend. She was doing well and I decided I needed to do something with my life besides party. So, I joined the Marines. After the mental abuse I had suffered as a child, I thought it would be a great opportunity to excel and get over the idea that I wouldn’t amount to anything. I thrived in the Marines. I was a squad leader since day one. I was an anti-guided 
missile man.

“The month before my 21st birthday, I drank a few beers and the Marines found out. Because I was a minor, this was investigated. I admitted to it and I was kicked out of the Marines. “I moved back to Maryland and moved into an apartment with my girlfriend. I was a mess – I was depressed and became suicidal.

“My girlfriend got pregnant. I was afraid she was going to leave me and I didn’t want our child to have divorced parents so I told her to do whatever she wanted to do. We weren’t communicating well because I was heavy into my addiction. I realized I wanted the baby but it was too late – she had already had an abortion. At that point, our relationship ended.

“My addiction quickly spiraled out of control and I was both using and selling drugs. I was sleeping in a homemade tent in my friend’s basement. It was the dead of winter and very cold in the basement where I slept in my tent on a drum stand beside the washing machine. My situation was desperate and I was suicidal.

“My mom realized my living conditions were very poor. She told me about a place she had found in Baltimore where there were a bunch of men in recovery. The most important aspect for me was that it was free. I didn’t want to be a burden on my family. I came to Helping Up Mission that Monday.

“Everything changed when I arrived at the Mission. I knew I was in for the long haul. I had a bed and hot food and knew that I would be taken care of. My military experience helped prepare me for my time at the Mission – I was used to obedience and orderliness.

“There were 24 of us who came into the program together. About 7 of those men were my age with a story similar to mine. It was a blessing to have that group of guys. I have never been happier in my life. Even on my worst day, I was happier here at HUM than I have ever been. I finally had a sense of hope. I felt accepted.

“I realized my eye was a little blurry. I went to the client services department at HUM and they helped me set up an eye appointment. The ophthalmologist told me that I have glaucoma. I also had a brown spot in the color in my eye, which had been there for about 5 years. The doctor told me I needed to get that checked out. The Mission was able to arrange for me to be seen at Johns Hopkins and everything was taken care of. The spot was melanoma cancer and I needed radiation.

“I had surgery on August 8th and had the choice of removal of my eye or radiation. I chose radiation and recently completed the treatment. Being at HUM prepared me to be able to face dealing with the surgery.

“In September, I started going to college at CCBC. I am taking my prerequisites for dental hygiene. I want to be able to help people and make them smile because I used to be one that never smiled.

“I graduate from the Spiritual Recovery Program in February and plan on staying here until I can financially support myself. I know my life will be a journey from here on out. I love myself now today more than ever. I am okay with what the future holds for me and I am good with whatever God’s plan is for me. I’m enjoying every moment and have a whole new outlook on life!”

Thanks to you… Tyrone is drug free and training for his first half marathon!

Tyrone Hugee, age 54, grew up in West Baltimore. “I never met my father,” says Tyrone. “I hung out with the other guys in my neighborhood. I figured that I could learn from them because they were doing what their fathers did. But, they didn’t always do the right things and that is how I was introduced to beer, cigarettes and marijuana around the age of 16. I thought that was just what men were supposed to do.

“I graduated from Walbrook High School and went on to study at Towson University. I graduated from Towson in 1985 with a degree in Business Management.

“I was dating a woman and, when I was 30, we had a child together. When we first started dating, she was clean but she eventually started using crack and I started using it as well when I was 33 years old. Things quickly escalated from there and I eventually lost everything including my job and our relationship.

“In 1995, stopped doing drugs and was able to stay clean for about three years. I started drinking beer again. I knew that crack would destabilize my life so I thought I should try dope. It turned out to be the same thing and it wasn’t long before I was chasing it day and night.

“I got clean again in 2004. I did well for a few years but, in 2008, I started skipping meetings. Then I started drinking beer again and then went back to dope. At first it was occasional but it wasn’t long till my addiction was back with intensity.

“Last November I went to go get some drugs. The dealer refused to sell to me because he said I owed him money. I had no memory of that. I had always been proud of my memory and couldn’t believe my mind would be so affected by drugs that I couldn’t remember that I owed someone money. That really bothered me and stuck with me. I decided that it was time to get help.

“A lot of places that I would have gone to for help wouldn’t accept me without help insurance. But, I knew that I could go to Helping Up Mission without insurance. Not only that, but they promised to help me get my ID and put the pieces of my life back together.

“A friend had told me that I needed to stop dabbling in recovery and go get the “full charge”. I didn’t really understand what that meant till I arrived at Helping Up Mission. There were so many components that I needed to begin my recovery journey. I needed stable housing, nutrition (I had been living on candy, potato chips and beer), mental health therapy, clothing, health (my blood pressure was sky high) and proper sleep. These elements were very important to help me restore my sanity and Helping Up Mission provided me with all of them. I’m not fully restored – this is a continuing process – but I am on my way. I’m doing things now that I wouldn’t have considered a year ago when all I wanted to do was do drugs and drink.

“When I arrived at the Mission, I hadn’t run for about a year but I started running on the treadmill in the Mission’s fitness center. I signed up for the Helping Up Mission chapter of the Back on My Feet running team and training soon became a big part of my recovery.

“Running helps me in my recovery because it gives me a sense of belonging and I enjoy the comradery of being a part of the team. Regardless of my background, I am treated as a part of the team. I haven’t been treated that way for years.

“The way they treat me brings joy to my heart. We do things together as a team besides run and that is where I get my fellowship. I have a group of people to spend time with who aren’t drinking and getting high. Running is also great for my health and has helped me control my blood pressure.

“I started running longer races and completed the Baltimore 10 Miler this summer. After that race, I knew that I could go even farther and I am now training to run the half marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival on October 18th.

“To be able to come from where I was and now be preparing for a half marathon makes me feel like superman! I used to love scoring drugs and drinking but I’ve found that there are a thousand and one things to do besides that. I have now broadened my life instead of narrowing it!

“I graduate from Helping Up Mission in November and I am looking forward to completing the program. Just like I run each race one step at a time, I am finishing the program one day at a time.

“I am working on restoring my credit and rebuilding trust. I am going to start and build my way up and it is my dream to one day own my own telemarketing firm.”

Thanks to you…. Tim is clean and working again!

Tim Holt grew up in a small town in Western Pennsylvania. “It was a great rural community to grow up in,” says Tim. “My parents raised my two brothers and sister and me. It was a fun childhood and I was very sport oriented. I went on to play football at Allegheny College.

“When I went to college I suddenly found myself free with no structure. I got into the party scene and soon I was drinking and trying drugs. The thought of the time was to expand your mind. I wanted to expand my borders and didn’t realize that it would damage me later on.

“I left college and went into construction as a field engineer for a heavy industrial contractor out of Pittsburgh. I worked myself up the ladder and eventually became a project manager at the age of 35.

“I was still partying but it was mostly drinking because drugs were frowned upon and I knew I would face routine drug screenings. I got married and it started out lovely but the alcohol became a problem and I had messed up priorities. Four years later, we were divorced.

“Things started to unravel after the divorce. I had no direction. I decided to get away from it all and became a union iron worker. I got a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from seeing a job well done. I moved to New York City – the mecca for iron working. I arrived in New York a week before the 9/11 attack occurred. For the next two weeks, I volunteered in the rescue recovery. I felt that it was my duty as a citizen of this country. After two weeks, I went back to work.

“I worked on the bridges and beautiful buildings in New York and met some really great people there. In October 2012, after 11 years in New York, I was in between projects. My older brother who lives in Annapolis was having family problems. He was working out of town and couldn’t be home all of the time so he asked me to come help. It started out well but unfortunately I brought my alcoholism with me. By March I had actually become a hindrance. I left because it was the only option I had.

“I went through a detox program and found myself in a halfway house in West Baltimore. The halfway house required that you attend five recovery meetings each week. It was at one of these meetings that I met a HUM staff member Barry and his wife, Joan. They told me about the Mission and encouraged me to check it out. Barry arranged a visit for me and I immediately fell in love with HUM. I really appreciated that so many of the staff members were former clients. I also liked that fact that it is a Christian based 12-step program. Although I liked the program, I wasn’t ready to commit because it is a year long program and I was intimidated by such a big time commitment.

“Seven months later, I started drinking again and woke up blacked out at the hospital. I started walking and ended up at the Mission. I initially came for a place to stay for the night. All the bridges I had built over a lifetime had been burnt. I was mentally and morally bankrupt. The men who were working in the overnight guest services program were very encouraging. They made me feel very welcome – a feeling I hadn’t experienced in a long time. I decided to join the Spiritual Recovery Program.

“When I received my work therapy assignment, I was elated to see that I was assigned to overnight guest services. I would be working with the same people who helped me in my hour of need! They take a lot of pride in what they do and understand that each individual that comes through the door is a special person. The overnight guests look forward to coming here because they know that it is a safe, drug free, clean environment. They can rest and put their heads down knowing that nothing is going to happen to them here.

“As I went through the program, I got to know Pastor Gary and Pastor Mike. They do their job so well – caring for broken down men who have reached the fringes of society and are looking for a way back. They help to guide us on our way back. All of the staff at the Mission help us realize what we can do if we will only be patient and sit still.

“Some of the fine tuning during my time here at HUM has been learning to have gratitude for the gifts God has given me in Jesus Christ. I have a better sense of humility – recognizing that there are many people who are actually responsible for where I am today. This has given me a new hope and vision for life – one I started out with as a young man but lost somewhere out along the way. With the help of the Mission, I have been able to take some time out for myself, explore these gifts and be grateful for them.

“They Mission staff help us get back out into the workforce again. I am working now working on the Bay Bridge as an iron worker. Iron working is such a part of me and I now have the freedom to enjoy it sober! I enjoy the sunrise on an early Sunday morning from atop the bay bridge – it is absolutely spectacular.

“I look forward to the future. I plan to continue with iron working. I’d like to find someone to spend the rest of my days with and I am saving for a house. I am looking forward to being a productive member of society and giving back what was so freely given to me.

“I am looking forward to giving back to the men in the program and giving them hope. As I come across work opportunities, I plan on passing them on to the men. I have so much gratitude and am blessed to be a part of Helping Up Mission’s Spiritual Recovery Program.”

Thanks to you… Ryan is working at Johns Hopkins and plans to go back to school!

Ryan Cashman was raised in Florida. “My parents divorced when I was 3,” says Ryan. “I mostly lived with my Dad. He eventually remarried.

“In my early 20’s, I moved out and got my own place. I had a great job in Florida working with custom home theatres. I started to enjoy my success and lived in a gated community and had a nice car.

“I got into the party scene with friends and tried ecstasy. Taking ecstasy was something we would all do together and for me, it had to do with acceptance. I always strived for acceptance.

Ecstasy led to other drugs, including cocaine, which became my drug of choice. I was able to limit my drug use to the weekends so it was manageable at that point.

“The company I was working for closed and I started my own company. I loved being my own boss and I made a lot of money. I had just gotten married – she had two young boys. Because I had a lot of money, I had the ability to buy a lot of drugs. It took a toll on my marriage and we had a lot of ups and downs. She would be sitting at home with the kids wondering where I was and I would be out drinking and using drugs. We were married for seven years before she just couldn’t take it anymore. She had the two boys to take care of and couldn’t handle all of the ups and downs.

“After she left, I got clean for 8 or 9 months before I started dating a girl who was into pain-killers. I tried them with her and it became a daily thing. That was in 2008, when the economy was bad. I wasn’t making much money and what I did have was going straight to drugs. I had no where to go and decided to move to Calvert County, Maryland to live with my mom.

“I started to realize how far I had fallen. When my business was doing well, I was making 6 figures a year and I was now making $7.25 an hour and was living with my mom at the age of 36. I was pulled over for drunk driving and, since this was my second offense, they revoked my license.

“I was arrested for possession and was in jail for 3 months. I had never done jail time and it was very traumatic for me. I thought about the great life I used to live and where I was. I started reading and going to Bible studies. When I was in jail, I found out about HUM. I talked to the judge regarding my probation and told her of my plans to come to HUM. She told me if I stuck with my plan, everything would be alright. I never would have heard about HUM if I hadn’t gone to jail – everything happens for a reason.

“I arrived at HUM in April 2013 and I didn’t know what to expect. I’d never been in a recovery program and was nervous about the fact that it was a homeless shelter. As soon as I walked into the lobby and saw how nice everything was, I felt a little bit better. I was relieved to see that it wasn’t just cots on the floor.

“I started making friends and getting into the routine of life at the Mission. I soon realized that everyone is in the same boat here – we are all a mess but somehow it all works.

“Being here is a process of learning about yourself and how to deal with things. I think one of the hardest things I had to do was share my story with a class of the guys and be okay with my story. After the class, I finally realized that I am okay with the fact that I will always be an addict but, I don’t have to use anymore!

“It was so helpful for me to learn the 12 steps and be able to talk things through with the counselors here. They were very helpful as I worked on finding answers and working through things. It was a blessing to have this time in life to sit still. Without having to worry about meals or clothes, I was able to have the time I needed to focus on getting my life together. I used to get so caught up in everything that I lost but I’m now able to focus on moving forward.

“There were many times when I was tempted to leave the program but I fought my urges because I didn’t want to be impulsive. I wanted the satisfaction of knowing that I finished something. I’m so excited to have made it through and graduated from the program!

“Through the Mission’s vocational services, I got a job at Johns Hopkins. It’s an entry level job but it is okay because there is so much opportunity at Hopkins. They will pay for school and I would like to start taking classes this summer. It’s a great opportunity and I have hope!

“On the day that I graduated, I took a photo in front of the cross in the HUM lobby. The cross is made out of wood from the floor from the old chapel where men used to sleep on the floor and the inscription reads, “As this golden wood has borne the bodies and souls of your brothers before you, so too shall the Lord carry you forward on the road to recovery and salvation.” When I read those words it hit me – these guys are my brothers! No matter where I go or what I do, this place will always be a home to me!”