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 anymore.

“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 an 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.”

Charles Kent, age 48, grew up in Owings Mills, Maryland.  An only child, he was raised by both parents.

“Football was my main focus when I was in school.  I was working towards getting a scholarship,” says Charles.  “After I busted my hip my senior year of high school, I lost my drive and dropped out of school shortly after that.

“My parents weren’t happy that I quit school.  But, they were in the process of splitting up so we were all going our own individual ways at that point.

“My paternal grandmother died when I was 19 years old.  She had been a very big part of my life – I loved spending time with her and used to take her and her girlfriends shopping each weekend.  Her death was very hard for me and I became very defiant.  It wasn’t long before I started using cocaine.  At first, I kept my drug use contained to the weekends.  For years, I worked during the week and then did drugs on the weekends.

“I met a woman and moved in with her.  We created a life together as a family raising her two children and the son we had together.  We stayed together for seven years but my cocaine use was increasing and it got to the point where we just couldn’t make it work any more and I moved out.

“My cocaine addiction steadily increased from that point on and I was locked up for delinquent child support in 1995.

“After I was released, I moved in with a friend and lived on their farm.  I was clean and sober and enjoying life.  At the farm, I met a woman.  We started dating and moved in together.  About 3 years into the relationship, I started using again.  Life felt boring, so I reverted back to what I knew best.  I was keeping it to the weekends and she accepted it.  I was working as a carpenter and wasn’t in the street running around.

“In 2010, we started drifting apart.  My cocaine use was getting heavier and cocaine was taking me in a direction she wasn’t going.  I loved cocaine more than her – even more than I loved myself.  She walked away from the relationship.

“After some time, I decided that I wanted to change and I got clean again.  During that time, I met another woman.  We moved in together and eventually got engaged.  We bought a house and I was working doing landscaping.  By the end of 2013, I was using cocaine again and my addiction was out of control.  I started running the streets and got into more trouble in 4 months than I had in all the years I had been using.  It’s amazing I’m still alive.  My fiancée had enough and asked me to leave.

“I went to a shelter and enrolled in a substance abuse program.  After I finished the program, I came to Baltimore to stay with my mom.  My diabetes was making me sick, so I went to the hospital to get it under control.  I talked to a counselor at the hospital and she told me about Helping Up Mission.  I had already been clean for 3 months but I decided to go get the help I needed to continue my recovery.

“When I came to the Mission I came with a stereotype of what I thought it would be like, but I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at Helping Up Mission.

“Through HUM’s education department, I started studying for my high school diploma.  I’m ready to take the GED test and am just waiting for my test day to be scheduled.

“I am a carpenter by trade.  While at the Mission, I heard about a program sponsored by the Associated Building Contractors (ABC) – the Jumpstart Program.  It’s a skill program that prepares workers to enter the workforce in the areas of carpentry, electric, construction, plumbing, etc.  I worked on my math skills, passed the entrance exam and interview, and just went to the orientation.  In addition to providing you with training, you are paid a stipend while you are learning and they provide assistance along the way.  They are helping me obtain my driver’s license and handle some legal issues pertaining to child support.  When I’m done with the training, they will provide me with tools to get started and help me find a job.  I feel so good about being a part of it and am excited to see where it will take me.

“I’m finally passionate about something.  Life is really good for me right now.  I’ve let go of all of the junk from my past.  Talking to the counselors and the other men here has been so good for me.  My heart is full of joy and there is no anger any more.

“I love Helping Up Mission!  It’s been 
a big benefit to my life.  The Mission 
will always be in my heart and always be my home.

“My mom loves coming to the Mission to see me as I have receive certificates for each phase of the Spiritual Recovery Program.  I’m blessed to have her in my life.

“My long term goal is to get my own small farm.  I’m looking forward to living on a farm and enjoying life.”