“God, this is it, I’m done. Please make something happen.”

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Struggling with addiction for over 20 years, Ramon (39) asked God for help, “God, this is it, I’m done. Please make something happen.” Thanks to generous donors like yourself, Ramon’s prayers were answered, and he came to Helping Up Mission (HUM), where he has healed, “spiritually, mentally, and physically.”

Born in Guatemala, Ramon’s family moved a lot: from Costa Rica to the Dominican Republic, to Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. His father, a preacher in the Seventh Day Adventist church, and his mother did a good job of making his family feel safe during the many moves. “I never liked to be in one place for very long. I got used to moving and liked meeting new people and discovering new cultures,” recalls Ramon.

Being raised Seventh Day Adventist, with a strict ethical code against the consumption of alcohol, Ramon did not have his first drink until age 19.  That all changed while in college. “That first night, I drank two forty-ounce beers. After that, I never drank casually. Drinking was all or nothing and I always drank to get drunk and I didn’t care about the consequences.”

Ramon’s “no-care” lifestyle would continue for another 15 years. Much like his childhood relocations, Ramon would often move to change the situations, yet his addictions would resurface. “Through the geographical moves, I now realize that I was the problem. I had always blamed my situations on other things.” Ramon moved to California to live with his sister, but his addiction resurfaced and he moved to Texas with his brother. “I thought that if I were around my brother, everything would get better. But I wasn’t happy and quickly started isolating myself. I moved back with my parents who were living in New Jersey, and repeated the process. My father got transferred to Maryland, and I moved too.  The pattern repeated: I got healthy again but started drinking.

In Baltimore, Ramon got arrested and while in detention asked, “God, this is it, I’m done. Please make something happen. That is when I met John. He said that he knew of a place that would help me. I did not see him again and I was released. We never exchanged information and I did not know how to find him.  But through coincidence, or more likely by GOD, John was there when I returned to get my things. And that is how I found Helping Up Mission.”

“The hardest thing about the Spiritual Recovery Program at HUM is living in a dorm with 30 guys, although it is cool how the men come from all walks of life. Learning to stay still, letting the ‘fog clear’, and taking direction were also hard at first. But they (staff) provide us with so much and there are so many opportunities to carry us through the year. I joined the choir and connected with the group Brothers in Prayer. I signed up for everything that HUM had to offer, like backpacking. I joined a recovery homegroup and attended Celebrate Recovery.”

Throughout the year I also stayed connected with John. He said he had a job opening for me when I was ready. At first, it was hard to find a job because of my past. But HUM helped me expunge my criminal record, and I work for John now at Sofi’s Crepes Fells Point. A job that I can walk to! It has been a blessing.

As Ramon looks ahead to his future, he is thankful for HUM teaching him to sit still and just letting God lead. “I passionately want to be a Peer Recovery Specialist. I want to help people get over the hump of addiction. I know what they are going through, and I want to show them how they can start from nothing and relearn what they know about God, religion, and recovery.”

“My relationship with God today is very personal. Recovery has really helped me see His love for humankind, but we must find out how to love ourselves first. God has given me the gift of being comfortable around people. Because of my upbringing, I trust people, and that is what I want to help instill in others. By trusting in God, like when I prayed to him from the detention center, He opened the door and placed John into my life.”

“Today, I am most thankful for my health and my life. My family stuck with me, even when I was reaching a point in my life where (it seemed) there was no coming back.   I am thankful for God bringing back my sanity (Recovery Step 2). And I am thankful for love allowing me to adapt to and accept people where they are. I am grateful for HUM healing me: spiritually, mentally, and physically. If I had the opportunity to go back and talk to myself on my first day I would say, ‘Ramon, you are at the right place. God brought you here. It’s starting now!’ “

Thanks to donors, volunteers, and partners like you, Ramon is well on his way to becoming a Peer Recovery Specialist. His true life-transformation is a testament to your generosity on many levels. And the hope that Ramon provides the men and women that we serve is immeasurable.

 

Frank, 39, was born and raised in the Towson area of Baltimore, Maryland. He grew up in a loving Catholic family that provided him with everything that he needed. A talented soccer player, Frank eventually joined the Maryland Olympic Team. “I thought that I had everything,” he says.

At the age of ten, Frank was offered his first drink. An older family friend brought him a six-pack to help celebrate New Year’s Eve. “She was like an older sister to me, and I brought the beers up to my room and drank them alone. I immediately liked the feeling,” he remembers. This early introduction to alcohol led him to begin drinking regularly, and he even started drinking at school. Frank would sneak a couple of beers during his middle school dances, and noticed that the beers no longer affected him. His school drinking progressed. During his freshman year at Calvert Hall, Frank brought a water bottle filled with alcohol to a dance, which led to suspension. It was his first time getting in trouble for drinking.

To Frank, drinking was a way to fit in at first. ”I really enjoyed the feeling that alcohol gave me. It was my solution for social anxiety and any pain that I was going through.” As much as Frank believed that alcohol helped him socially, it had the opposite effect in reality. Soon he was drinking by himself in his room.

Having developed from such a young age, Frank’s addiction began to interfere with his life. Frank received his first DUI before beginning his freshman year at Essex Community College. He received his second DUI one week later, and a third before the end of the year. His drinking was starting to affect his ability to play soccer, which was stressful for him.

In 1998, Frank’s family recognized his continuously growing problem, and he attended his first recovery program. Soon he met a girl who was also in recovery, at the recovery house he managed in Frederick, MD. The relationship progressed quickly, and the newly sober couple got married shortly after she got pregnant. “I was young and started drinking again. I couldn’t stay stopped. My life was unmanageable. We had a second child and the marriage soon crumbled into an unhealthy relationship,” Frank remembers. Due to his drinking, Frank lost his job in the Steamfitters Union and moved back to Baltimore.

In 2017, Frank was sick and tired of being sick and tired. “I tried every way to get my life back on track—my behaviors, jobs, and relationships. I knew that my friend from Calvert Hall, Matthew Joseph, was working at Helping Up as HUM Treatment Coordinator, and I talked to him about coming in. Three times I walked through the door. The first time, I wasn’t ready; the second time, I needed detox; and finally on the third time they let me in. It was hard coming through the doors. I wasn’t proud to be a HUM guy.”

Today Frank has a very different perspective. “I can help somebody else by showing them what I’m doing. My life is in a better place because I’m here.” Frank is now an intern in the Workforce Development Program. “If it wasn’t for being an intern and having the guidance of Brett Hartnett, Education & Workforce Development Administrator, and Matt Brown, Education and Workforce Development Manager, I would have left HUM. They gave me purpose,” Frank says.

In December, 2018, Frank graduated our one-year Spiritual Recovery Program and now accepts life on life’s terms. “HUM has transformed my life and changed who I am today. I’m a different person, and I enjoy helping the men through career development, applying for jobs, and taking assessment tests. I like showing them that they can take the worst possible things in their lives and turn them into assets.” Frank started taking Peer Recovery Coach classes and also graduated from the Community College of Baltimore County with his Associate’s Degree. Soon he will attend The University of Baltimore to pursue a degree in Business Management. He plans on staying active in the substance abuse recovery field.

”I’ve become mentally, physically, and spiritually better at HUM, and being here has given me the time to recover. I grew up Catholic, and the presence of God here at HUM is everywhere. God is back in my life, I can feel Him. Here, God works through so many people and I thank Him for bringing tears to my eyes. Tears of Joy.”

Thanks to You Frank has Tears of Joy.

“I like showing people that they can take the worst possible things in their lives and turn them into assets.”

Thanks to you…Greg has learned his purpose in life is to help others. 

Greg is 25 years old, and like many of the young men here at HUM, he grew up in a family that provided every opportunity for him. His family regularly attended church and Greg, like his two older brothers, attended a private school. 

Greg admits that he has always been a bit a rebellious. A fireworks incident got him suspended in seventh grade, and by eighth grade, he was drinking with his peers.

At the beginning of his freshman year, Greg moved from alcohol to marijuana. By his junior year, Greg was using OxyContin and cocaine. His family tried to help with rehab programs, but Greg began a long spiral of accidents, incidents, rehab, short periods of sobriety, and eventually, relapsing. 

In 2015, at the age of 24, Greg’s parents kicked him out after he robbed them. “I was homeless, but I couldn’t do it. I slept on a bench near HUM, but didn’t know this was the Mission.” After two nights, he called his dad who told him about Helping Up Mission and Greg agreed to give it a try.   

He arrived, still dirty and high. When he came into the building, it wasn’t what he was expecting. It was comforting to see someone from his church working at HUM, and that helped, but he still struggled. He called home hoping to leave, but his dad told him, “Greg, this is that moment where you make the decision if you want this.” For Greg, this was the time to surrender. 

Greg spent ten months at HUM, went back to college, and was doing well. But, he stopped going to recovery meetings, was not working the 12 steps and decided that he should celebrate his birthday by using. After all, he was doing so well; perhaps he could get away with it just one more time. Looking back, he says, “Part of me thinks that it was because I was doing so well – maybe I could get away with one.”

He borrowed his parent’s car, telling them he was going to a meeting. Instead, he went to his usual place to get drugs. “I shot up while driving and I just had an immediate overdose…the last thing I remember was a loud crash.” Greg crashed into a bus on Maryland Avenue. He remembers, “My next conscious memory is three weeks later in Johns Hopkins ICU surrounded by doctors with machines and tubes everywhere. My parents are there and crying, so I started crying.” He had been in a coma for three weeks, having nearly died several times.

Greg recalls his mother was “just praying that she didn’t have to bury her youngest kid.” She wasn’t the only one praying: the HUM staff, his friends, and his church family were all praying for Greg. After a month in the hospital, he went home and took another month to recuperate. 

In May, Greg returned to HUM. “Ever since I got out of the hospital, all I wanted to do was come back to the Mission. I have never been clean for ten months since I started doing drugs. I’ve been to many treatment centers…but God is doing something good here.”

Greg returned and started the year-long Spiritual Recovery Program all over again. He remembers, “Three weeks after I came back, I watched the seed class I came in with graduate.  My mom came and watched with me. I was happy to be alive.”  

“I try to do two things each day for my recovery: trust God and help others.”      

The staff at HUM saw a difference in Greg this time around. Greg explains, “When I got out of the coma, I had learned that two of my friends did the same thing (overdosed) and didn’t wake up the next morning. I did, so I knew that I had a purpose. There is no reason why I should be alive. I saw a purpose in my life.” 

He is actively working the 12 step program now and encourages those struggling with the steps, “don’t look at them like they are hurdles you have to get through. Look at them like guard rails that you have to stay in between. You do them on a daily basis.”

Each day is new, and Greg has a plan for today. He offers this explanation: “I try to do two things each day for my recovery. That is to trust God and to help others. You don’t have to be an addict to relate to my story. You just have to be a human being and realize that you guys are alive for a purpose. If you trust [in God], then you start to live life with a purpose. You start to see value in things.”

“The second part is helping others. That is the key. When I am helping another, I am focused on them entirely. That is what works for me today.”

Greg is now in college, studying human services administration. He would like to go into the substance abuse field to share his story and help someone else not make the same mistakes he made. He wants to help others to see that they have a purpose.   

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Wes, 33 years old, was born and raised in Baltimore.  His family sent him to an all male private high school to allow him to get a good education. “While I was there,” he explains, “I probably didn’t enjoy everything about it. But after graduating, I really appreciate having the opportunity to go somewhere like that.” However, while in high school, Wes started gained access and started using substances, like Ritalin and Aderall – taking prescription medication for Attention Deficit Disorder, even though he was not diagnosed with ADD. From there, he moved onto other drugs, including marijuana, hallucinogens, and OxyContin.   

Wes graduated high school and moved on to Towson University, where his addiction intensified.  He was eventually expelled for selling marijuana from his dorm room. For several years Wes worked dead-end jobs in order to support his habit. Then he started selling again. “I kind of felt like it made people need me in their lives,” he explains. “I always had trouble making friends on my own, so I figured…if I sell addictive substances, they’ve gotta be my friend.”

Eventually his house was raided, he was arrested, and he moved back in with mom. At that point, Wes knew he was on a downward spiral. He was only twenty-eight years old. Wes was going through what he called “spiritual decay and just feeling tired with life.” At this point he knew, “I had nothing to sell; I had nothing to give; I was just really taking everything… trying to fill the void inside with drugs.” 

Wes went back to Towson University, managing to get good grades despite continued drug use, and earned his degree in Environmental Science. But even after earning his degree, he getting dead-end jobs, staying up all night using and sleeping all day. He thought it was the chemicals that caused the schedule, but since he has been at HUM he has realized: “It was really a lot of self-image and self-esteem issues, being ashamed of showing my face outside in public. I didn’t want to see the light of day, or the ‘normal’ people going about their business.”

Thanks to you… Wes is gaining confidence to live as the man he was created to be!

At one point, Wes went to ask his mother for money. She suggested he get some help, but Wes protested that he didn’t have insurance or any way to pay for a treatment program.  But, his sister’s boyfriend had been to HUM and told him about it. Wes spent that night in his mother’s basement, thinking, and finally decided he was ready for something else. So at the age of thirty-two, he started his recovery journey at HUM. 

When he first arrived, Wes was in a fog, but was ready to surrender. He was surprised that everyone seemed friendly and willing to help him. It took a while to settle in, though, because he was used to the schedule of sleeping during the day and staying up at night. 

At about four months, Wes started to acclimate to recovery. “Making regular class attendance, grudgingly waking up for work therapy, and at least trying to do the best I could do” are all things he says have helped.  “It really has gotten easier. As somebody who would go to sleep before the birds wake up, my work therapy [has me] wake up with the birds and go clean up cigarette butts on East Baltimore Street. I am out there dancing around with my music on, and I am having a blast.”

Besides his work therapy, Wes suggests that other aspects of life at HUM have really helped, especially the sense of community. “I’ve never experienced anything like it,” he says. During his time here, Wes has also taken the opportunity to meet regularly with his mental health counselor. “The mental health coordination is great. I can be honest with my counselor, tell them whatever is going on with me inside.”

For Wes, one of the most meaningful parts of the HUM community has been the choir. It took him some time to gain the confidence to join, but once he did, Wes found he was in his element. “The people who sing in the choir get a lot out of it – finding some purpose – helping us to realize that we need to trust God and just do the best we can. I love getting up there. I have always been an introvert, and never thought my skills would be enough to be on a showcase. But, I love getting up there and showing off my moves.” Through the choir, Wes has had some additional leadership opportunities which have been personally affirming. It has been an encouragement to Wes to realize that “people see more in me than I can see in myself sometimes.”

Wes graduates in a few months, and he is waiting on God as he discerns the best way to move forward.  Wes is thrilled to have a better relationship with his family. Where he used to be a hindrance, he is now a help.  His self-image issues have come a long way, and he is learning new ways to live in confidence and freedom. While he would eventually like to work in his field of study – Environmental Science – Wes is not anxious. “I can take this time, figure out what is best for me, and set things in motion.” He knows that God will make a way for him.

What does Wes think of HUM? “It saved my life, and I think it can work wonders in anyone’s life, even if they don’t think it can.” To all friends and supporters of Helping Up Mission, he has this to say: “Thanks for showing me that God loves me!”

WesR

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Julio knows how it feels to be successful in the world’s eyes, but had to learn to be still and serve in order to succeed in his recovery.

Julio Santana grew up in an upper middle class family in Baltimore.  His father was an electrical engineer and his mother was a dermatologist, both at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  He attended private school where he played football and baseball, and sang in the choir.  His success in high school led him to Tuskegee University.  He graduated from Tuskegee with a degree in finance.

Julio started using alcohol as a teenager.  His cousin gave him his first 40-ounce bottle while he was in tenth grade and he realized that it helped him relax.  Drinking became a social part of Julio’s life and he continued drinking throughout college.

After graduation from Tuskegee, Julio started working in Virginia at a job that required him to “wine and dine” clients with an unlimited expense account.  He was living the dream with five cars and an amazing apartment.  After three years, he left this job because the multiple promotions and great material goods were not enough.  He wanted more.  Julio admits that his drinking increased during this time, but he was still functioning.

On September 11, 2001, Julio returned to the Baltimore area to start a new job in mortgage banking.  He had incredible financial success and worked for three years in the industry. But that still wasn’t enough.

He eventually left the mortgage banking firm in order to partner with his best friend in a fast food franchise.  They built up their new store and again found success.  The shop was ranked fifth in the region for the first three years that Julio and his partner owned the store.  That led to the decision to open a second store, all before he had turned thirty years old!

Looking back, Julio can see that the second shop was a mistake.  It cost more money to start and was a “problem store” from the start.  Also, next door to the store was a bar.  Julio became an absentee owner and let the teenagers working behind the counter more or less run the shop.  He had always been the responsible one, the one to fix problems, but he wasn’t that guy this time around.  He ended up having to sell the store and had to start all over again. 

This time Julio worked in the home repair business and did much of the actual labor himself.  He felt his life spinning out of control at this point, but still didn’t realize he was an alcoholic.

It took the death of his parents to open his eyes.  Julio’s mother had been ill and he felt bad that his father had been the one taking care of his mom, when Julio felt he should have been the one helping out.  After his mother passed away, Julio’s father told Julio that he was wasting his gifts because of alcohol.  But Julio still didn’t think he had an addiction; he thought addictions could only happen if he used hard drugs.  One of the last things Julio’s father said to Julio was, “Son, please stop drinking”.

After the death of both parents, Julio tried to clean up and was sober for several months.  But one day the pressures of life, the guilt and the shame all just caused him to give up.  He ended up sabotaging a job he was on and left to get drunk.

It took Julio three tries to get into Helping Up Mission.  On his first attempt, he arrived and had to wait to get in the door, but he wasn’t ready so he gave up and left.  On his second attempt, he came with too much luggage.  He wasn’t ready to let go of his material things and so he returned to a friend’s house (he had no other place to go) thinking he would never come back.  But, God had different plans for Julio.  On Veteran’s Day of 2015, Julio only had $5 on him and was so depressed that he knew he had to do something.  He walked for two and a half hours, stopped for one last beer, and then caught a ride to the train station to get to HUM. 

Although he had still packed several bags to bring with him, at some point he had to surrender it all and start fresh.

At first, he was afraid and he had a rough start.  It took him until around the sixty-day point to get comfortable with the idea that he was exactly where he needed to be.  Julio had borrowed a truck from a friend, but it broke down and he saw that as “a sign” to sit still and focus on his one-year in the Spiritual Recovery Program.

Julio graduated in November and is currently a graduate intern in the IT department at HUM. During his time here, Julio learned to sit still and to take responsibility for things again.  He also learned that helping doesn’t mean that you will fix a problem for another person; it means guiding people to a better way and then allowing them to go make it happen. 

Shortly before graduation, Julio took a Peer Advocate Training course.  This training will allow Julio to work in emergency rooms and counsel (as a peer) to those in need.  He can help in a specialized way that doctors and nurses aren’t always able to because they do not have first-hand experience of recovery.  He can advocate for and educate those in need and then help them so that they won’t necessarily need to return to the ER.

Whether Julio will choose to work in the IT field or as a Peer Advocate is not quite clear to him.  It is clear that helping people is a passion that burns deep within!  But right now, he needs to sit still and let God call the shots for his future.  With that as his plan, he can’t go wrong.

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Kody Jenkins, age 32, was raised in Carroll County. “I have always loved basketball,” says Kody. “I started playing when I was 5 years old and soon enrolled in community leagues.”

“When I was 12 years old, I started smoking weed and drinking. During my junior and senior year, I moved to acid and heroin and cocaine. I was still playing basketball. In my senior year, I was 3rd in Carroll County for most points scored. Scouts started talking to me and I had a promising college basketball career to look forward to.

Arrested for the first time

“When I was 17 years old, I was arrested for the first time. I was in and out of courtrooms. Right after high school, I had an assault charge. Three days later, I was arrested on major drug charges. They gave me a nine year sentence of which I served about five years.

“After I got out of prison, I knew I still had the basketball talent but I saw the opportunity slipping way from me. I was in and out of rehabs and kept telling myself I would try to play basketball when I got the oppurtunity. Over the next 5 years, I was incarcerated 4 more times and went to rehabs 6 times.

“I didn’t have any relationship with my family during those years. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror let alone be around my family the way that I was. Because of my actions, I hurt family members very badly. I knew I had really messed up and that hurt even more badly than the prison time.

“I got to the point where I had no control over myself or my addiction. If I didn’t get help I would eventually start robbing stores or doing other things I didn’t want to do. I knew it was time to get help. I had heard about Helping Up Mission in the past and decided that it was time to give it a try.

Life was always on the run

“Before I came to the Mission, life was always on the run. I don’t remember ever enjoying life. After I had been at the Mission for a while, I noticed that I was starting to have fun. We went on a retreat to Camp Wabanna. I woke up early so I could catch the sunrise – it was serene. As I started to come to peace with myself, the dream of playing college basketball was reborn.

“My Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When I heard the news, I realized I needed to be able to face him before he died and apologize for that pain I had caused. I had forgiven myself and I knew he had too but I needed to go to him. I visited him and we had a long talk – that was the start of our reconciliation.

Back on my Feet

“My Dad’s diagnosis gave me the motivation to start pursuing my dream of college basketball. I started working out and joined Helping Up Mission’s running team through Back On My Feet.

“I started talking to John, a HUM volunteer who works for Maryland Economic Opportunity Center – an organization that assists individuals in obtaining grants. He knew that I didn’t know how to get started. He helped me fill out the applications and helped me connect with the basketball coach at CCBC Dundalk.

“The coach invited me to attend an open house and try out. When I met the coach, I told him that I had a rough past and things were hard in my 20’s but I was there now. I told him that I wanted an education and I had been waiting for this opportunity for 14 years. He told me that everyone deserves a second chance and that they had a place for me on the team.

“Once I was accepted, I started preparing for college! I enrolled in a summer class to get me prepped for school. I also took advantage of the tutoring services at the Mission to prepare me for my placement classes. Having a tutor allowed me to pass the test and avoid two non-credit classes.

“Running with Back On My Feet prepared me to play basketball again.”

“Running with Back On My Feet prepared me to play basketball again. They taught me discipline through getting up and running every morning. Running helped me to improve my speed.

“I love playing basketball! I’ve been playing in the games and doing really well. It’s a dream come true to finally be playing college basketball.

“Helping Up Mission is a blessing! The Spiritual Recovery Program is set up in a wonderful way. I came to the Mission with a lot of pain. The first 45 days of the program when I was on restriction and unable to leave the building gave me time to stay still and get my head right. Having memory work in Pastor Gary’s class was important to help me start thinking again.

“Having access to counseling at the Mission was critical. The counselors helped guide me through the time with my Dad. They always pointed me back to my relationship with God.

“Helping Up Mission has everything you need to change you life but it’s not going to fall in your lap. At the Mission, I realized that I needed to seize those opportunities. They give you anything you need to change your life!

 

Drew Dedrick, age 43, was raised in Columbia, MD.  “I grew up in a good Catholic family,” says Drew.  “I did well in school.  I played football, baseball and painted scenery for the drama club and was an artist for the newspaper.”

“I had always been a normal guy. As I entered middle school I got glasses, braces and crazy hair due to my many cowlicks. I wasn’t cool anymore. I desperately wanted to fit in. I felt like good students were nerds so I started making an effort not to get straight A’s.

“After high school, I enrolled in UMBC and joined a fraternity.  I did nothing but drink my entire freshman year.  I felt like it was required to be part of the crowd and it helped me to feel accepted.  By the end of my freshman year, I had failed out of college.

“I started working at Toby’s Dinner Theatre as a morning dishwasher.  Within weeks I was promoted to working with props and stage managing.  From there I became the technical director and finally a sound designer.

“In 1999, I married my girlfriend — an actress I had met at the theatre. We had a good life together. She eventually left the theatre and got a job as a teacher.

“Our first son, Martin, was born in 2004 and our second, August, arrived in 2007.  After August was born, she wanted me to get a “real job.”  She didn’t think that my job at the theatre had the long-term security that a day job could provide.  But, I was comfortable at the theatre and knew that I was very good at what I did.

“After August was born, the disconnect between us grew.  She had matured and become a proper mother but I hadn’t made that adjustment with her.  She kept asking me to drink less.  I hesitantly agreed but never made any real changes.

“We reached a point of crisis in our marriage.  She gave me an ultimatum that I needed to quit drinking, quit smoking and get my health checked out.  I told her that was a lot to ask for and I didn’t know if I could do all of it.  I went to the doctor the very next week.  I tried to quit smoking without realizing how hard it would be.  I never was able to stop drinking.  After six months, right after Thanksgiving 2013, she kicked me out. At first I fought for her and our relationship but eventually realized that it was futile — she was not going to take me back. Not being able to be with my boys was devastating.

“I still had my job at Toby’s and I would sleep in my car and at friends’ houses.  It was freezing cold and so I drank to keep warm.  My wife told me I couldn’t drive the boys anymore.  Once that responsibility was gone, I drank whenever I wasn’t at work.  I drank all day long.  I got to the point where I would shake if I wasn’t drinking.  My doctor prescribed me anxiety medication.  Because I was taking it along with drinking, I started blacking out.  I started getting progressive warnings from my boss about showing up drunk to work.

“From May to October my life was just shame upon shame.  I was hallucinating.  I was very paranoid and stopped talking to people.  I thought I was going to die – I didn’t believe I had any chance to control my alcoholism.  I was only getting ½ hour of sleep every night and drinking didn’t even get me drunk anymore.

“I finally realized that I needed help.  My step-mother helped me look for programs and found Helping Up Mission.  She brought me to HUM and I was an emotional mess.  I had been isolated for so long.  Suddenly, I was in a community of guys all working on the same thing and it was like an enormous weight had been lifted.

“I surrounded myself with good people.  For the first time in my life, I started following the rules.  Anything the staff asked me to do, I did.  I got a sponsor, a home group, developed a great relationship with my treatment coordinator, fully used my therapist and started attending church.

“As I progressed in the program, I had to decide about going back to work right away or waiting.  I prayed on it and decided to accept a work therapy assignment in HUM’s treatment office.  I wanted to give back to the place that had saved my life!  I eventually accepted an internship in the Philanthropy Department.  My family wrote a letter lashing out at me for taking an internship instead of a full-time job.  They wanted me to re-enter the workforce and provide for my boys.

“I recently was offered the opportunity to interview for a position in HUM’s Philanthropy Department as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator.  As I read the job description, I was amazed – if I could have written it myself, this is the ideal job description I would have written.  A couple of weeks later, I was offered and accepted the position.  Working at Helping Up Mission is a calling.  It’s a place where I can help save lives.

“Because I am able to live at the Mission as a residential staff member, I am saving money and able to make financial amends to my ex-wife.  My family apologized to me for writing that letter and doubting me.  They now realize that I was doing the right thing all along, by surrendering to God’s will  and am now in a position to give back to my boys immediately.”

Watch Drew’s interview at our 2016 Graduation Banquet:

https://youtu.be/Z7XY9OguvbA?t=2m21s