"I'M AT PEACE WITH MYSELF"
Terry had a job and an apartment, but he was laid off and soon discovered that unemployment compensation didn’t cover his expenses. “I couldn’t afford to pay rent where I was, and I had no place to go,” he says.
He grabbed as much clothing as he could carry and walked to our Samaritan House Crisis Housing Center, leaving the rest of his belongings outside his apartment. They were stolen before he could get back to retrieve them.
“When I got here, I didn’t have anything,” he says. “But they treated me really well. I ate my meals here, got my laundry done, got clothes, boots, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and razors.”
While staying at the Center, Terry worked as a day laborer and went to Social Services to secure affordable housing. “It was really stressful, but the chapel services they have here each day relieved a lot of the stress,” he says. “Since coming here, I’ve grown a lot spiritually. I’m more patient. I’m calmer, and I’m at peace with myself.”
Terry had been using alcohol and drugs off and on for several years, but the spiritual nurturing he received through Bible studies and chapels led him to change his lifestyle.
“There were people I hung around with who were into drugs and drinking and I cut them off one by one,” he says. “I’ve been clean and sober for two years now and it feels good.”
Terry has his own place now, but he still attends our weekly Bible studies and evening chapels.
“God sent me here,” he says. “I love the staff. They’ve helped me be honest about my life and learn to love myself.”
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Terry's story of hope and healing is inspiring. Our Christian Life Recovery Program exists to help other men in the Rochester area find healing. Will you help provide this help to others?
Drugs and alcohol had taken everything from Bill.
“There was nothing left,” he says, shaking his head. No family. No friends. No money. No clothes. “I had been incarcerated and lost a lot of weight. There I was, homeless.
So I went to the Open Door Mission and stayed at the emergency shelter.”
“Being at the Mission opened my eyes.”
Not having to worry about a place to sleep or where his next meal was coming from allowed Bill to give some thought to changing his life, and that led him to join our Christian Life Recovery Program. That was seven years ago, and a lot has changed in Bill’s life since then!
The year after he entered our program, he met his wife, and they were married in 2010. In 2011, he finished his management degree at R.I.T. A beautiful son was born to the couple in 2013 while both Bill and his wife were starting their own ministry: Chloe Cares [Caring for the Happiness and Lives of the Elderly].
The idea took root when Bill was visiting his mother in a nursing home. “I would read to her. Others would come in and eventually I’m reading to 12 ladies!” Bill began taking his “ladies” on outings – to the zoo and out to eat. He continued reading to them, brought them fresh fruit, and played music they wanted to hear.
“Unless they get money from family, most of them don’t have the means to do things like this,” he says.
Today, Bill and his wife are working with several nursing homes, getting a few donations from local restaurants and individuals, and founding their own non-profit organization so they can expand their work!
Help other men like Bill…
Bill’s story of hope and healing is inspiring. Our Christian Life Recovery Program exists to help other men in the Rochester area find healing. Will you help provide this help to others?
Injured and unable to work, Brendan was “just getting by” on unemployment when his benefits ended.
“I borrowed from friends and family to pay the rent, but by the time summer rolled around, I couldn’t pay it any longer. I asked my landlord to give me a chance because I was doing the best I could, but he just said, ‘we can’t have you live here anymore.’”
Brendan put his belongings in storage and began to hunt for shelter. “It was July 4 and most everything was closed. The first place I went turned me down. I didn’t know what to do. I’d worked my entire life and here I was with no place to go.”
“Knocking on the Mission Door.”
Brendan knew about the Open Door Mission from seeing us on TV when he was younger, so he walked several long blocks to our Samaritan House Crisis Housing Center and knocked on the door.
At first, no one answered.
“I set my bag of clothes down on the sidewalk and said, ‘Well, Lord, I don’t know what to do.’ Then this big guy came walking out of the Mission. He looked at me and said, ‘You’re awful skinny man, you need something to eat. Come in here brother and let me help you out.’"
“We take care of lost souls.”
The men who work at the Mission were having a 4th of July barbecue. It was just a small gathering – someone grilling hot dogs while music played. Brendan began looking around and noticed a sign on the wall: “We take care of lost souls.” And, they did.
“They told me to relax, that everything would be all right. They said, ‘we’ll work with you brother and figure things out. You’ve got a place to stay here.’”
The staff made Brendan feel “right at home.” “This is the greatest place...open and warm and caring … it felt like a family.”
“I’ve got to pay you back.” Brendan couldn’t believe that the Mission would feed him, and give him a bed and the help and support he needed to get his life back on track. But he knew one thing, he had to do something to repay that generosity!
“From that first day they helped me out a lot, and I just wanted to repay them.” So Brendan put his 35 years of experience in the kitchen to work. “I do coffee every morning for the guys who stay in the shelter overnight, and set up coffee and donuts for those who come in during the afternoon.”
Brendan also helped prepare and serve dinner each evening and did laundry and bedding during the day. “It’s really good for people to give back. Here at the Mission, you’ve got a bed and plenty of food and if you’re going through a rough patch, you always have someone to talk to. It’s a win-win situation all the way.
Help other men like Brendan…
Brendan’s story of hope and healing is inspiring. Our Christian Life Recovery Program exists to help other men in the Rochester area find healing. Will you help provide this help to others?
Allen’s life began to change because of a Bible brought into the dorm at our Samaritan House Crisis Housing Center and opened at random.
“There was a little red dot next to 1 Corinthians 13:11: ‘When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.’”
Allen read the verse over and over and knew what he had to do!
“I’d spent years walking in a fog.”
“I thought I knew the basics of maturity...but that verse [and some sermons at the Mission] made everything click!”
Since his wife left, Allen had been a wanderer, going back and forth between New York and Florida, staying with family members. “The last time I came back from Florida, I had nowhere to go. I stayed with a sister for a little bit, but she couldn’t afford to keep me.
That’s when I was dropped off at the front door of the Mission.”
“I was tired of just surviving.”
Allen entered and graduated from our Christian Life Recovery Program. Working and staying here at the Mission, he was able to save up enough money to get a place of his own! “There’s not enough thanks I can give to God for leading me,” he says with a smile.
Today, he’s the “Overnight Man” here at the Caring Center. His job is to make sure everyone is safe and secure. And although it’s not part of his job description, Allen has what he calls “a listening ear.”
He also leads devotions with others. “A lot of time, I just say what is swelling up within me.”
“Not just a place to stay.”
“Open Door Mission is not just a place to stay,” Allen says. “It’s a home. A lot of guys who have been out on the streets, making bad decisions and using drugs...get a sense of family here. It’s a big home, but a home nonetheless.”
Help other men like Allen…
Allen’s story of hope and healing is inspiring. Our Christian Life Recovery Program exists to help other men in the Rochester area find healing. Will you help provide this help to others?
Ricky started using drugs when he was just 17. “It began with marijuana and acid, then grew to cocaine. Then, over the past couple years....heroin,” he says. “What really spiked my addiction was losing my father two years ago.”
Ricky’s addiction was taking a heavy toll on his life, costing him jobs, and alienating him from his family, especially his mother. “I started stealing from her and it broke her heart, so she kicked me out of the house,” Ricky says.
Ricky finally had enough and told his family so. “I finally realized that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I realized that I had a problem,” Ricky says. “I admitted myself and was sent to St. Mary’s for a night, and St. Mary’s told me about the Samaritan House.”
The first night at our shelter, Ricky learned about the Open Door Mission’s Christian Life Recovery Program and decided it was for him, but his first two weeks were rocky.
“I was doing a lot of complaining about the Bible studies until one of my brothers in the program put me in my place,” Ricky says. “That’s when I changed. I took the mask off that day and now I just soak everything in.”
Ricky had never read the Bible before coming to the Mission, but he now finds guidance and encouragement in the scriptures.
“My favorite is James 1:2 about when troubles, trials, and tribulations come your way. If you overcome them it will bring you great joy,” he says. “I’ve had a couple tests in my life, and because of that I’ve had happiness and more endurance for the Lord. Every day I pray because it says that if you ask for wisdom and knowledge, God will give it to you.”
Ricky has been clean ever since he came to the Mission. “That’s big for me,” he says. “Over the last 10 years, there wasn’t a day I didn’t go out without at least smoking pot or something. I really can’t tell you how much this place has saved my life.”
Ricky’s relationships with his family are being restored, as well. “Mom visits every Sunday. We talk, and I tell her the truth which I never used to do. That’s how I know it’s working,” Ricky says. “It’s a great thing to see.”
Ricky plans to complete the program and continue seeking God’s guidance in the days ahead. “It helps me out just focusing on the Lord, keeping on this narrow path that He’s provided for me – the path of righteousness,” he says. “What I’m experiencing right now is a blessing.”
Help other men like Ricky…
Ricky’s story of hope and healing is inspiring. Our Christian Life Recovery Program exists to help other men in the Rochester area find healing. Will you help provide this help to others?
Even though Howard’s twin brother brought him to the Mission, Howard knows it was really God who led him there!
Howard knew that making his own decisions wasn’t working. He had two divorces to prove it, and some time being homeless where he “couch surfed” with friends and relatives.
“I was a stubborn, proud man,” he says today. “I became homeless because of my own decisions...going down the wrong road with drugs and alcohol.”
“Even my family members gave up on me.”
Howard’s drug and alcohol use was “uncontrollable.” Through two divorces, Howard was still convinced that the problem was with each of his ex-wives. That is, until his last relationship fell apart and he found himself totally homeless and living on the street.
His twin brother gave him a place to stay for a couple of weeks, but Howard felt like he was a burden to the family. “I heard about the Open Door Mission and asked them to drop me off here.”
He stayed at our Samaritan House Crisis Housing Center, keeping clean and staying away from marijuana and alcohol. He even began volunteering – helping out with breakfast and the laundry. But he could only stay so long at the Housing Center. Soon enough, he had to move forward with his recovery.
“They kept talking to me about the Christian Life Recovery Program, but I didn’t think I needed God 24/7,” Howard says.
Howard’s alternative was to go back to the streets. But he knew what it was like to sleep in parking garages and abandoned buildings, and he didn’t want that path again. “It’s a sad way to live,” he says. “I wanted security and I wanted to feel good about myself.”
Howard finally made a decision: “I had lived 45 years of my life on my terms, so why not give a year to God? To me, it was just a no-brainer!”
Once he was accepted into the program, life began to improve. “The program’s just amazing,” Howard says. Not only was he receiving counseling and going through recovery classes, he also started reconnecting with his kids and their mothers.
They were happy for me, he says with a smile. “My son who was 15 said, ‘Dad, if this is what will change your life, you have to do it.’”
His brothers at the Mission became a second family. “The men are always there with you, 24/7. As the Mission put clothes on my back and fed me, I had people next to me who understood the process of recovery. It was fantastic!”
Howard stayed for the course of the program and graduated. Today, he’s a well-respected member of the maintenance and facilities staff at a local apartment community.
“I have a full-time job and I have my family members back in my life,” he says with pride. “A year with God did amazing things! And now I always let him lead me.”
Help other men like Howard…
Howard’s story of hope and healing is inspiring. Our Christian Life Recovery Program exists to help other men in the Rochester area find healing. Will you help provide this help to others?
Before he came to the Mission, Darrell’s life was an endless cycle: get money, use drugs, be homeless, go to jail.
“It wasn’t how I was raised,” he says regretfully. “It was all about the choices I made that got me to the point of despair.”
“I was a shopping cart guy with plastic bags and bottles and cans that I collected around the city to support my drug habit. I slept in abandoned buildings, and places people would let me stay as long as I had drugs and money...”
Darrell had tried more than 10 other rehab programs and had short periods of sobriety. But his life didn’t seem to change. It was still “empty.”
Our Samaritan House Crisis Housing Center was closed for the night when Darrell knocked on the door. “The gentleman who let me in was very kind. He gave me something to eat and the opportunity to sleep on a comfortable bed. But the real spiritual experience came the next morning.”
“When I woke up the next morning, I could see the kindness, feel the empathy. I could see everything that I had been missing!”
Within a few weeks, Darrell entered our Christian Life Recovery Program. “The most important part of the program for me was the morning worship...time spent with God. And there were times when I heard His voice!”
Darrell’s road to recovery was not an easy one. But what progress he’s made! He went back to school and earned his BA. Today, he’s helping others as a Social Services Assistant at the VA!
He's also happily married, and reunited with his family after more than 10 years.
“The Mission saved my life!” he says. “They helped break the cycle of despair.”
Help other men like Darrell…
Darrell’s story of hope and healing is inspiring. Our Christian Life Recovery Program exists to help other men in the Rochester area find healing. Will you help provide this help to others?
Manuel was homeless for five years before he finally came to the Mission.
“It was about two o’clock in the morning. I was cold and hungry and I had prayed for help for days. So I knocked on the door and they opened it.”
That first night, Manuel slept on a mattress on the floor. “I was lucky,” he remembers. “There was only one mattress left!”
It was the beginning of a new way of life for a man who had been homeless for five years.
“They gave me somewhere to sleep, food and clean clothes.”
“My life was changed, little by little.”
Once he had a place to stay, Manuel started attending day classes for substance abuse at the Restart Rehabilitation Center. Today, he’s celebrating his sobriety after 25 years of drinking!
Through the Mission, Manuel eventually found a small place of his own, but he returns to the Mission to eat meals and shower. And, he volunteers here 19 hours a week.
“The Mission gave me hope,” Manuel says. “It is a great place to change your life. Today, my plan is to keep following the Lord and volunteer here whenever they need me!”
Help other men like Manuel…
Manuel’s story of hope and healing is inspiring. Our Christian Life Recovery Program exists to help other men in the Rochester area find healing. Will you help provide this help to others?
Grant started drinking at age 14, was addicted by 18 and was homeless off and on for nearly 20 years. His destructive lifestyle cost him his marriage and his livelihood, and eventually hardened him to the streets.
“For a long time I wouldn’t open up to anybody,” he says. “I had a cold heart.”
Finally Grant’s hunger drove him to our doors...and here he found more than food alone. We offered him safe, healthy shelter and an opportunity for a new beginning.
“I wanted to get a handle on what I was supposed to be doing with my life,” he says. “I grew up in church and I’d always been a strong believer in Jesus Christ. I heard the program was Christian-based and I wanted to try it.”
He entered our recovery program, and as he accepted counseling and guidance from our kind and loving staff, his heart began to soften – and he surrendered to the Lord.
Today Grant is sober, living in his own place and continuing to build his new life one day at a time. “I just surrounded myself with Christ,” he says, “and I want to serve Him instead of doing the things I was doing.”
Help other men like Grant…
Grant's story of hope and healing is inspiring. Our Christian Life Recovery Program exists to help other men in the Rochester area find healing. Will you help provide this help to others?
Twelve years ago, Saladean thought life was pretty good. “I was working in a restaurant, making $10.50 an hour; I had bought a Chevy Blazer and just had my first child.”Then, life took a change for the worse. Struggling with an addiction to marijuana, Saladean lost his job, his vehicle, his apartment and his family. “I had hit rock bottom and was struggling to survive. I had no clue how to get assistance, and felt embarrassed to need help.”
With nowhere to live and no one to turn to, Saladean contacted the local police department, and they directed him to the Open Door Mission. “I knew about the Open Door Mission, but I was scared to go there.” When Saladean finally learned that the Mission’s Samaritan House offers a number of benefits, including meals and shelter, church and prayer, he felt better about coming in.
In addition to homelessness and addiction, Saladean was battling depression and a feeling of helplessness. “I fought for three years to have a stable mind, not realizing that my marijuana habit was contributing to my illness.” Saladean tried to take control of his problems by admitting himself to a hospital. But the drugs they prescribed once he was released were too expensive for him to afford on his own. “I wanted to fix the problem, but I couldn’t,” he says.“Luckily, someone prayed for me.”
People here at the Mission were Saladean’s helping hand in his time of need. “I thank God for the Open Door Mission. I worked and prayed and fellowshipped with them, and they were my support system. They wanted nothing but the best for me.”With this support, Saladean returned to college and graduated last May with an associate’s degree in Communications and Media Arts.
Today, he is furthering his education at Erie Community College in Buffalo and majoring in social work. He’s working the night shift to support himself and coming back to Rochester frequently to visit the Mission and see his children, with whom he is reestablishing a relationship.
Help other men like Saladean…
Saladean’s story of hope and healing is inspiring. Our Christian Life Recovery Program exists to help other men in the Rochester area find healing. Will you help provide this help to others?