Rick Reflects On Life After Graduation

Mar 20, 2019

Rick, a homeowner, husband, and father of six, had been sober with the help of a 12-step program for 18 years. But as he entered his 50s, his arthritis worsened, leading to a relapse. “I was on a lot of medications, and they just got away from me,” Rick said. “It became a full-blown addiction to opiates. That caused a lot of problems at home.”

An overdose—not his first—landed Rick in the hospital, and when he was released, he came home to a restraining order. “I was out of control, and it came time for tough love,” he said. “My family didn’t want to see me die.”

Rick spent a week in a motel and then ended up on the streets, living out of his truck. “It was a rude awakening for me,” Rick said. “I’d never experienced anything like homelessness. I was just lost—lost and broken.”

Rick spent 10 nights at the warming shelter, and met a couple men from the mission. “The church stuff scared me, but I figured I’d try it. I thought I’d clean up, my family will cool off, and I’ll come home. It didn’t work out that way.”

Rick said the days were busy at the mission, doing outreach events and working in the thrift store. But in the evenings, there was some time. “I picked up the bible and I started reading. In the beginning, I read just the things I thought applied to me—the marriage and family stuff. Then I started praying out of desperation. The more I did that, the more I got into it. It kept me going.”

And as he continued, Rick saw change. “I started building a relationship with Jesus Christ. My faith started to grow, and I found a peace I’d never had.

“When I first got to the mission, I felt so alone. The leadership and the faith and the love I was shown from (staff) was something I’d never seen before. These people didn’t know me, but they just loved on me.”

Rick graduated in October 2015 and moved into transitional housing. His faith has helped him through some tough times, including a long term hospitalization due to a brain infection. He pulled through but had to relearn how to do everything—including how to walk. “The whole time I was praying, reading the word,” he said. “I just poured myself into it.”

In December of 2016, Rick’s wife was hit by a car and passed a few months later. “We hadn’t spoken, but I was praying the whole time,” Rick said. “The doctor said she couldn’t communicate, but at one point she reached out and we interlocked hands. I told her I loved her and I asked her if she loved me too. She nodded. I asked if it was OK if I prayed for her and she nodded. I told her if she needed to go, she should.

“I would’ve gone off the rails if it weren’t for God and his word and the relationships I built in the program—it’s the only thing that kept me together.”

Four months after his wife’s death, Rick returned home, where he’s been for two years. His youngest son and oldest son, along with his granddaughter, live with him. “My relationship with my kids is better than it’s been since they were children,” he said. “Things are really good. When you can give of yourself and make a difference in your life, the feeling is amazing.”

Rick stays involved with the mission, and attends special celebrations and the program’s annual camping trip. “Going and breaking bread with the guys, fellowshipping, it’s amazing,” he said. “It’s something I cherish.

“It’s not the life I expected or hoped for exactly, but it’s better than I probably deserve. This program saved my life. It gave me a life I never expected.”


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