Jerome yearns to end cycle of drugs and homelessness


Jerome has been in several programs in the last few years, but is feeling stronger now.

When Jerome was young, he and his best friend made a pact—no drugs. “My best friend’s dad was heavily into selling and manufacturing drugs,” Jerome said. “We said we would never touch it because we saw the damage it did.”

So at 16, when Jerome started going to parties, he stuck to drinking. Even so, he butt heads with his dad. He was strict, with a military background. “We got into a big fight,” Jerome said. “I ended up leaving the house and staying with a friend, and then another friend.”

For the next six years, Jerome worked at a machine shop. “I started dabbling, first cigarettes, then weed, then using speed. I was a late bloomer. I didn’t really get into (hard drugs) until 21, when everyone had already experienced stuff. “

During the time Jerome was gone, just one block over, he never went back to see his family. His parents got divorced. At 21, Jerome went to jail for the first time. “I went by (my childhood home), and it was empty,” he said. “The furniture was gone and the lawn was overgrown. It was like all my memories were wiped away. Erased.

“By then I had an addiction, and had graduated from meth to crack cocaine. I was lying to people—it was like living a double life.”

For years, Jerome was in his “program living” phase. “I’d experience this punch of Jesus and do well in a program. I’d get jobs, get paid and then blow it. I ended up living under a bridge. My mom had passed. My dad and sister were done with me. I had no ties. I spent seven months homeless in a sleeping bag. … I started talking to God, out loud. I told Him, ‘I gotta get out of here.’”

Jerome was familiar with the Mission. “In the mornings I’d go get coffee, and I’d have good talks with these guys. I was fed up. I knew by then, I could not do this by myself. I knew what it was like to have the goodness of God. He drew me back to the Bible and that brought peace.”

When Jerome got to the Mission, he remembered reading in the paperwork “Relax, you’re in a safe place.” “I exhaled,” Jerome said. “My shoulders relaxed. It was different than any other time.”

Nearly five months in, Jerome said he’s feeling great. “The Lord has opened my eyes to the truth of my life,” he said. “He’s put so many jewels and gems into my life here. Everything is new again.

“This process is liberating me. It’s been quite the divine experience. I’ve let down my defenses and they’ve made it really easy to open up and share some of the deeper things going on. I’ve been taking advice and really listening to what Jesus has for me. The genuineness in the guys leading here is amazing. They really care. They want the guys to get it— God hasn’t stopped caring.”

As far as what’s next, Jerome is being “flexible in the Lord. I’m preparing for whatever God has for me and am praying into it.”