JoelOne night, I overheard a conversation about the Mission's recovery program. I said, “I think that's where I need to go." I knew that I wanted me back, I wanted Joel back, I wanted something different in my life. I wanted away from the streets, I wanted out of the situations I was in.
Joel's story of transformation
In his own words...
There was something going on in my house. One morning, I found my stepdad abusing my sister. I freaked out. I told her grab the rest of the kids and head to the bus. I didn't tell my mom what was going on. We just left.
I'm sitting with my sister on the bus, she's crying. She's telling me that she's sorry. I was crying. I didn't know what to do.
We get to the school and I went to my teacher; she was like a second mom to me. She could see the tears in my eyes. I said ‘there's something going on in my house’ and she just knew immediately. They called the police and they went and arrested him.
I went downhill from there. I was in and out of homelessness, in and out of jobs, drugs, prison. I actually landed in prison in the same prison yard my stepdad was on.
All I could do was read my Bible and ask God to help me to forgive him. I told him, “You just go your way. I'm going to go my way. I forgive you for whatever you've done. I just want to move on with my life.” It was hard, but I did it.
After being released from prison, I started off in the Jungle for a few months. It was too dangerous, so I moved and started sleeping at the bottom of Cherry Hill. I was cold, homeless, and hungry for new life.
I started seeing the Search & Rescue outreach team show up. I started communicating with them. They inspired me to become clean. I heard about the temporary cold-weather shelters and moved there.
One night, I overheard a conversation about the Mission's recovery program. I said, “I think that's where I need to go.” I knew that I wanted me back, I wanted Joel back, I wanted something different in my life. I wanted away from the streets, I wanted out of the situations I was in.
A couple of days later I walked into the Mission on my own. I knew that I needed change. The Mission is life changing. It's a really great program. The big thing was being able to forgive my past and let everything go, and not to carry it with me. Graduating from the recovery program means that I can move forward, clean and sober, and be able to move on with life.
Now I am on staff at the Mission, working with the Outreach team handing out blankets, and most important, have conversations with our homeless neighbors. I let them know that we care about them. I talk to them about their past and tell them about my past and what I've been through, with hopes of them joining the same recovery program that saved my life.
Thousands of broken individuals will come to the Mission this year. And like Joel, many will be on the brink, ready to throw in the towel, unless they can find something to live for.