Rasheed Savage, age 34, was born in San Antonio, TX. “Life was a little sporadic for me while I was growing up,” says Rasheed. “My parents were both in the army. My mom was stationed in Maryland and my father stayed in San Antonio, TX. When I was 8 years old, I left Texas to live with my mother while she was stationed at Fort Meade. But, when I was 11 years old, I was sent back to Texas to live with my father.
“At first I thought it was good that I was going to live with my Dad. But, he had gotten married and had another family. Trying to fit in was strenuous for me. I did not like it. When I was 13, they got divorced. That was hard for me because I thought it was my fault. I was too young to understand. My relationship with my father was distant. I lived with him till I graduated from high school.
“After high school I went to Junior College for a basketball scholarship. I only did a year there before I was arrested on aggravated assault charges and had to go back to San Antonio. I was incarcerated twice and served a total of six years.
“After I was released, I contacted my mom and she told me if I moved to Baltimore she’d help me get on my feet. I was 29 years old at the time. I enrolled in truck driving school and got my commercial driver’s license. I had a hard time getting jobs because of my criminal background. Eventually I ran into an old classmate who hired me to work as a driver for a waste management company. I was doing well and was able to purchase my dream car, a Cadillac Sedan DeVille. It was the car I always wanted and I took great care of it.
“I had experimented with drugs in Texas but had stayed clean after my incarceration. But, once I started my driving job, I started smoking crack and drinking. I was able to maintain by job but I was living very recklessly. Things got really rough for me. I couldn’t pay my rent on time and I was barely eating. I was slowly losing things that I cared about. It got so bad that I started renting my car out to get money for drugs. One day I rented it out and they never brought it back.
“I was starting to slip back into some of the behavior that had gotten me locked up before. I was a bit suicidal – I wasn’t planning to kill myself but I was participating in behavior that could likely lead to death. But, there was a small part of me that didn’t want to give up and die. I honestly didn’t know what to do. I thought that prison would be my remedy because I always did so well when I got locked up. When I would get free, I didn’t know how to live because I needed structure. I figured that I needed to get locked up if I didn’t want to die but I didn’t want to get locked up.
“I finally decided to tell my mom about my addiction. She had a co-worker whose son was in the Spiritual Recovery Program at Helping Up Mission and they gave her a quick run down of how the program works. I was willing to do whatever it took to get a grip on my life again.
“When I first arrived at the Mission, I was given a work therapy assignment in the kitchen. I was excited to work in the kitchen because I like to eat. But, working in the kitchen was good for me because it helped to keep me focused. I desperately needed structure and a safe environment and that is what I found at Helping Up Mission.
“I learned so much while at the Mission. Attending the Bible classes gave me a spiritual balance. I learned about God and the spiritual aspect of things. I also enjoyed learning about the biological aspect of drugs and recovery. Living with so many other people taught me how to be sociable and live with other people in harmony – something I never really thought was possible.
“Even though I had a pretty good job before I came to the Mission, I never had the time to follow my aspirations to go back to school. I was caught up in working and wasn’t able to take the time to better myself. Being at the Mission has given me the time to make important life choices and go in the direction that I want to go. While in the Spiritual Recovery Program, I decided to go back to school and finish what I started. I enrolled in Baltimore City Community College and am about to receive my associate’s degree in allied human service (social work). I feel like it’s one of my biggest accomplishments! But, I’m not going to stop there. I am going to continue to go to school and get a bachelors degree and a master’s degree in counseling.
“I graduated from the Spiritual Recovery Program in March 2011. A couple of months later, they offered me a position as a treatment coordinator. A treatment coordinator is a graduate who as been through the program and helps to guide the clients as they go through the program. The job was a perfect fit because I naturally enjoy helping guys out and telling them what I know and helping them make the right decisions. I love being able to share with them what I did to help get myself through the program. After working in that position for about 8 months, I was offered the position of program coordinator. It’s a similar position but with expanded responsibilities making sure the Mission’s clients have everything that they need to succeed.
“I love my job! It’s the first job that I’ve had that I don’t dread getting up and coming to work. I’m constantly being exposed to new things and learning. There’s always a new issue or situation that keeps me on my toes and I enjoy the excitement. I have a sense of pride about being able to help these men succeed in moving forward with their lives. I am glad that I can continue school part time and also have a fulfilling career.”