John J. vividly recalls the night in July 2020 when he hit rock bottom after trying to buy drugs. Though he had a job, he was on the brink of losing it, and he didn’t have a place of his own, staying with one family member or friend to the next.
“I was going down the street in Atlanta—two or three o’clock in the morning—and had spent six or seven hundred dollars and couldn’t get nothing from anybody, riding down the street in my truck crying like a baby. And I said, ‘It’s time to change.’”
John did change. He entered a detox center and while he was there, he heard about Hope House, CaringWorks’ 70-bed residential facility that provides housing and support to adult men who have experienced homelessness and are in recovery from substance addiction. He reached out to the director and was accepted into the facility.
“I needed some stability. The detox and the Hope House gave me stabilization back in my life.”
John got a sponsor, attended recovery meetings, received mental health counseling and other services, and established a routine that gave him confidence that he could live a better life.
“It helped me get the basics I needed as a man to start believing in myself and to start trusting myself again.”
John says another instrumental part of his recovery was the education he received.
“I got information about my depression, about how I can deal with my disease of addiction. I needed that education.”
Part of his recovery also included seeing a doctor for some health issues he didn’t know he had.
“I was able to sit still long enough to realize that my body was wearing down. It gave me the stabilization I needed to take care of mind, body and spirit.”
Perhaps the most meaningful part of his recovery was that John was able to reconnect with his teenage son and become a better father.
“I realized I wasn’t just destroying me; I was destroying him. I wanted to break the cycle because my dad wasn’t in my life. I didn’t want to do the same thing to him.”
John completed his treatment at Hope House and transitioned to another CaringWorks program called Level Up, which provides independent housing and supportive services to single adults who have experienced homelessness, who are managing their addiction, and who are living in recovery. In May, John will successfully complete the Level Up program, transition out of CaringWorks and take over the lease of his apartment.
“Because of this program and this process, it’s allowed me to get myself back in line and take care of my responsibilities.”
John says that part of the process was also to forgive himself.
“My whole mindset has changed. I had to stop telling myself I’m a bad person. I did bad things, but I’m not a bad person.”
Those closest to John can see the transformation. His coworkers can tell something is different, despite many not knowing about his struggles with addiction.
“June will be five years on my job. Other people have seen me change and they say, ‘You’re doing something different.’” John added, “There’s glow about yourself once you stop using.”
John now sees his son regularly and has repaired his relationship with his ex-wife.
“I’m involved in my son’s life. He comes to stay with me. My ex-wife—his mother—we are better friends now. It’s a great feeling.”
John is excited about what’s in store, and he’s working toward future goals which include saving enough money to eventually get a bigger place to live so that his son can have his own room. He also works part time at Hope House as a House Manager and he plans to become a Peer Specialist to help others who are struggling with similar challenges.
“I want to talk to people about the recovery process, or mental illness, or whatever it may be. Anything I can do to help somebody and listen.”
When reflecting on his experience with CaringWorks, John summed it up: “I’m just grateful. Each and every day, I’m grateful for a chance at life.”
Built on the single idea that all people—no matter their social or economic standing—should have a chance to improve their quality of life, CaringWorks has served thousands of clients throughout our 20-plus-year history. Since our inception, we have grown exponentially to become one of Georgia’s leaders in providing permanent supportive housing. We serve hundreds of individuals each year through unique programs and services that are specifically tailored to the needs of those facing chronic homelessness.
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