Keith, a Broadway performer turned dance instructor, shares his story of recovery – from rising to the top of the ballet world, to falling from grace, then finding hope in helping others. Read more of Keith’s story at https://helpingupmission.org/stories/keitht
Pastor Gary: 20 Years of Recovery Ministry
After 20 years of faithful ministry at HUM, Deputy Director Gary Byers, aka Pastor Gary, is retiring. Perhaps we should say “retiring,” because he’s moving to Arizona to lead a college archaeology department and will continue leading digs in the Middle East.
Video tribute to Pastor Gary: 20 Years of Recovery Ministry
Director of Spiritual Life Mike Rallo interviews Gary on his life, career at HUM, and what’s next
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!
“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!
“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!
“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…. 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!”
Thanks to You, Adam Got Sober. Now He’s In Bible College!
Adam Mathis, age 29, grew up in the Baltimore area and moved to Stewartstown, PA at age 10. “When I was 15 years old, my parents divorced and I went to live with my Dad,” says Adam. “I was very uncomfortable with their divorce and I started dealing with my pain by drinking. I would find bottles in the house and drink them.
“I graduated from high school and starting doing odd jobs here and there. I would do things like stacking lumber. I was never able to keep a job for more than 6 months – I always got fired or laid off. I felt like I was in a rut and I was just digging deeper and could never find my way out.
“I realized that I had the ability to drink more than most people could handle – I thought it was cool. I would drink a whole bottle of my Dad’s liquor and fill it back up with iced tea thinking that he wouldn’t know. He would confront me, and even though I was visibly drunk, I would still deny it.
“I used to go into bars and when people would turn their head, I would quickly drink their drink. My friends were always amazed because I would go into the bar with no money and come out drunk.
“When I was 23 years old, my Dad got remarried and we moved to Parkville, MD. There was a lot of tension between my stepmom and I because all she saw of me was a drunk. She and my father got married at 9 in the morning and, by 10 am, I was so unbelievably drunk that I was kicked off of the beach. I had a 10 year old Stepbrother and my Stepmom was scared of him being exposed to my drinking. I was never violent but, when I drank I would become unbelievably belligerent and say stupid things I didn’t mean. A year after they were married, my Dad and Stepmom couldn’t take my behavior anymore so they gave me rent money to live in an apartment across the street from their house.
“Every day I would wake up and find money to get some type of buzz. In 2011, my Dad started looking online for a place to send me. He knew that I read the Bible and that I was into archeology. He saw that Pastor Gary Byers at Helping Up Mission was an archeologist. Having no other options, I decided to give the Mission a try.
“It didn’t take me long to start making friends at the Mission. I progressed through the phases of the Spiritual Recovery Program and was approaching the Life Prep phase. I started drinking on the weekends. I told myself that it wasn’t a problem because I wasn’t drinking that much. Things got bad quickly. I would stay out all night and wasn’t able to compose myself enough to come back to the Mission till the next afternoon because I was so drunk. One day I came back to the Mission with alcohol in my system and was not able to slip by unnoticed. Because of the Mission’s no drugs or alcohol policy, I had to leave.
“I went to my buddy’s house and stayed there for a while but after a week he told me I had to go tell my Dad. My Dad let me move back in and I stayed there to wait till enough time had passed for me to be able to come back to Helping Up Mission.
“My Dad drove me back to the Mission four months after I had left and, when he dropped me off, he was crying. That really touched me! He told me that he wanted me to find help. Then he said something that really got my attention: ‘You’re always reading the Bible, why don’t you try living it!’ I realized at that moment what a hypocrite I had been.
“After I had been back at Helping Up Mission about three and a half months, I knew that I wanted to go to Bible College. My counselor encouraged me to give it a shot but I doubted myself because I had failed everything I ever tried. I started applying to colleges but they always needed money 0or things I didn’t have. At that same time, Faith Theological Seminary in Towson got in touch with Pastor Gary Byers and asked him to teach a class. He told them that he had two guys at the Mission that wanted to enroll in the seminary and they waived a bunch of fees and helped me to get grant money.
“I graduated from Helping Up Mission’s Spiritual Recovery Program in December 2012 and I’m now in my fourth semester at Faith Theological Seminary!
“After the first semester, the seminary contacted me and let me know that they would like for me to work part time in their library. In exchange, they would pay my housing fees to live in Helping Up Mission’s transitional housing. I appreciated the confidence that they had in me!
“I would like to continue my studies and get a master’s degree and eventually a doctorate. I’m not exactly sure where this will lead but I would like to consider teaching.
“My Dad and my Stepmom say they are proud of me all of the time. This year I wasn’t drunk on Thanksgiving and actually got to enjoy the day with them – they even asked me to say the blessing before our Thanksgiving dinner!
“I feel like I Corinthians 2:9 sums up my life, ‘However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived – the thing God has prepared for those who love Him.’ I never thought I’d be here going to Bible college and be able to learn all that I am learning. I am truly blessed and I thank God every day!”
Thanks to your support…. Matt Brown is free from drugs and training to run the Baltimore Marathon with Team HUM!
Matt Brown was raised by his parents in Carroll County along with his two older sisters and two younger brothers. “As I saw it, I had a normal childhood,” says Matt. “As I got older, I became aware that I was being physically and mentally abused by my father, but that was what I knew as the norm as a child. I thought it was normal to never be good enough in my father’s eyes.”
“I started playing football when I was 12 and by the time I entered high school, football was my life. As a sophomore, I was moved to the varsity and being looked at by college recruiters. By law they were unable to speak to me until my Junior year, but when my Junior year started, my father forbid me from playing football due to his religious beliefs. When my Dad took football from me, my path changed. I went from focusing on academics and athletics to drugs and partying.
“I graduated from high school and started selling cars at the age of 18. By the age of 20, I was managing the dealership, but that still not enough for me. From an early age, I had been instilled with the belief that I could never do enough, be enough, or live up to the expectations of my father. No matter what I accomplished, I never saw myself as enough. My car, television, home, and all of my possession couldn’t be big enough for me. This discontent created a huge void in my life, and I attempted to fill that void with the use of drugs and alcohol.
“By the time I reached 24 years old, I was a full blown addict. My drug of choice was pharmaceutical pain pills. Once my addiction started to become more than I could bear, I decided a dry out period was needed. I came clean to my parents and told them I had a problem. My life hadn’t become unmanageable in my eyes, because I still had my job and home. I stopped the pills, but continued to drink. I was able to maintain that state for about 2 years. Slowly, but surely I fell back into opiate addiction.
“This time the fall back into the grasps of addiction happened much faster. I lost my house, my car, and my job. Losing my material possession led me to trying another dry out period. I didn’t recognize my problem as addiction, so once again I tried to fill my life with activities and material things. That worked for a while, but the discontent inside of me continued to grow.
“I relapsed and my life spiraled so far out of control that I didn’t care to wake up ever again. I had done it again. I had lost everything. By now I couldn’t afford the pills anymore so I quickly moved on to heroin. I would take daily trips from Carroll County to Baltimore so that I could fuel my addiction. After 4 months, I was homeless; living out of my car. My addiction led me straight to an overdose, which literally saved my life.
“On September 28, 2012, I woke up in the hospital with complete desperation. I had nowhere to go. There was nothing left but a shell of a person called Matt. Some people on the street told me about Helping Up Mission and there my journey began.
“The Mission gave me a life I didn’t think possible. Before going through the program at The Mission, I strived for bigger and better things, but when I got them, I was never content. The Mission has taught me to find contentment in what God has provided for me every day. The contentment that I have today is more valuable to me than any material possession.
“In February of 2013, I joined the Helping Up Mission chapter of the Back on My Feet running team. I have always been an athlete but was never a runner. Running was hard at first, but I discovered it brings a sense of peace during and after each run. Running allowed me to feel more gratitude. When I was battling my addiction, I wouldn’t even want to walk up a flight of steps, now if I run less than five miles it’s a bad day!
“I ran my first half marathon this spring and I am now training to run the Baltimore Marathon on October 12, 2013 as part of the Mission’s running team, Team HUM. I’m running the marathon to raise awareness for the miracles that happen at Helping Up Mission. I believe the more people are made aware of what is going on here, the more people will want to donate time and money to this amazing cause. I believe it all starts with awareness!
“After all these years, I’ve made amends with my father, and have been able to build a relationship with him. He was able to share with me his childhood. I now know he did the best he could with what he had. I’ve finally been able to accept him and come to love him for who he is.
“Before I came to the Mission, my parents locked their doors, because they were afraid of what their own son was capable of doing to them. My mother shared with me lately that I am the rock she can lean on as my Dad suffers from terminal brain cancer. Words cannot express how it felt to hear that from her; grateful would be an understatement.
“When I think about my future, I know I am being directed to help people just like me who battle everyday with the grasps of addictions. I’m not sure yet what that will look like. I plan on staying in Baltimore City, where I will continue on with my education. I would like to get my degree in Business Administration/Management with a minor in Substance Abuse Counseling.”