Istarted drinking, smoking marijuana and popping pills when I started hanging out with the wrong crowd in high school. I worked for my dad’s security firm after graduation but eventually became jobless and homeless after my brother introduced me to free-basing cocaine.
I joined a gang at age 21 and made them my family. I went to prison three times yet continued in the gang until I was 35. I finally sought help with my addictions at age 42.
God used The Salvation Army as my guiding light. I was introduced to Jesus at the Chicago Harbor Light. God’s Word, plus personal counseling and group sessions, helped me find my life again.
I have my own place now and was able to restore a relationship with my family before my father passed away.
My mother, a great Christian woman, died from leukemia when I was 17. That’s when everything changed. I felt abandoned by God because He “took” my mother. I started drinking and got involved with a gang. I didn’t care who I hurt. Eventually I robbed a drug store, got caught and was sent to prison for seven years.
When I got out, I continued to hang with the wrong people in the wrong places. Then my little brother got leukemia. He suffered terribly. When he died, so did I. Homeless, I bounced around the streets. Shelters didn’t work well for me because I had a short fuse and hated being around people.
Then I discovered Chicago’s Lower Wacker Drive. I lived there for 15 years and never had to leave because do-gooders always brought food and clothes to us. But, I was a nobody to the world and felt it.
When The Salvation Army mobile feeding unit came by, I never wanted to talk with them. One night I was lying there half-frozen. A woman from the unit came up to me and asked if I needed help. I hadn’t had anyone show concern for me in a very long time. When she told me about the Chicago Harbor Light, I agreed to go the next morning.
When Harbor Light staff people came to get me, I was buried so deep under boxes and covers, they couldn’t see me. But, that didn’t stop them from looking for me. I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in at the Harbor Light, but they kept assuring me I was in the right place. It was time to stop running.
I started talking about my problems with the counselors, and the staff helped me start planning for the rest of my life. I got my GED and received vocational training through the transitional jobs program. I have a renewed relationship with God and pray all the time. I’m so thankful for The Salvation Army and all the people who made this possible.