“Place Of Hope”
I was seventeen, living in Lewisville, Tx, sleeping on my friends bedroom floor. My parents, and the rest of my family, had moved to Tennessee. I was tired of moving. I was tired of leaving my friends behind and starting over, and I believed I was an adult now, so I stayed behind…..
You see, in Texas you are considered an adult at the age of 17(At least when I was there). And there was nothing that I wanted more in this world, at that time, than was to be an adult. It was September of 99. I had dropped out of school, and moved out of mom’s house the day after my seventeenth birthday, even though she begged me not to.
Before the family made the move to Tennessee, I had my first taste of being treated like an adult, when I was pulled over with pot smoke rolling out of the windows of my red Honda Civic CRX. I had a head light out! They took me to jail for possession, and ticketed my buddy for illegal paraphernalia. I sat in jail for a few days, mostly because I didn’t have anyone to call, and I really didn’t want to call mom. When she finally caught wind of it, she had to pawn a favorite necklace of hers to bail me out. I don’t know if she ever got her necklace back, and even though she begged and pleaded with me again, I still didn’t move back home. Mom and the family moved to TN in January of 2000.
My court date finally came around in May, of 2000. I was still living with that buddy of mine in Bunker Hill trailer park. Him, and I, and a few really close friends, were quickly being introduced to, and exploring all the ways a teenager could party. We would try just about anything we could get our hands on. And I mean anything! The court gave me the option to serve jail time or probation. It was a no brainer for me. Probation! There was no logic, except staying out of jail. Within a few weeks the state was calling wanting to know where I was, and why I hadn’t come in to get set up on probation! It didn’t take long for me to realize, I wasn’t going to last long on probation living the way I was living. I didn’t have the self control to be around and not participate, and I also didn’t have a better atmosphere to be in at the time. So I had trapped myself. I didn’t want to leave Texas, but if I stayed I would surely end up in jail…. for a long time.
So one morning after being awake all night on meth, ecstasy, and a few other drugs I really don’t remember, I climbed in my little red Honda Civic CRX, with a letter that my mother had written me, a Rand McNally, a mixed tape and a backpack with a few of my clothes, and headed north towards Tennessee. It was an interesting TRIP to say the least. I left that way, because I felt if I had to say good bye to my friends again I wouldn’t be able to leave, and if I didn’t leave it would be a much worse outcome. When I look back now, I believe that was my guardian angel giving me the courage and wisdom to think that way, in such a time of young, wild, rebellious, drug induced living, I can’t figure out how else I would have managed to make a sound responsible decision like that.
I showed up at mom’s house around 7 a.m. on July, 1st 2000. I knocked on the side door under the carport, I heard her come out the front door. I met her at the corner of the house, and I’ll never forget that moment she realized it was me. She was wearing her night rode, and balling her eyes out, through each gasp of breath, she was trying so hard to say how glad she was that it was me, and that I was ok and finally home.
She didn’t know I was coming.
I didn’t tell anyone…..
I lived in her basement for the first 6 months or more. I was lucky enough to get unsupervised probation from Texas, because Tennessee, at the time, didn’t have the type of probation I was on. I would call in once a month and send money once a month, and as long as I stayed out of trouble I would be ok. Not knowing anyone, I also managed to stay sober for a little while. At least sober from the hard stuff. I made a few friends and started drinking on the weekends, but nothing big at that point. I had to go back to Texas about 9 months into probation to take a drug class. Texas didn’t feel the same. I was very nervous. I was afraid I would use again, and get around my friends and not want to leave. But that didn’t happen. I actually felt like a stranger. Maybe because I acted like a stranger. Not like the old me. I did the class in 2 days and left town the same way I had done almost a year before.
I was about 3 weeks away from the end of my probation when I got a call from the state of Texas. I had 40 hours of community service I was supposed to complete as a part of my sentence. I had not done it yet! They informed me I would need that community service done and turned in, or I would be in violation of my probation and would have to return to Texas for sentencing. Usually Violation of probation results in serving your original sentence in JAIL, so I was pretty shook up about it.
My grandmother was living in section eight housing on the north side of Columbia at the time. Mom and I would go by and see her regularly. She has always held a very special place in my heart. She spent a lot of time helping out at a rehab center close by called, “The Place of Hope.” When she heard of the predicament I was in, she recommended that I go up to the rehab and do the community service there.
With what seemed like days left to do my time, I showed up at The Place of Hope. A dark haired, middle aged lady named Jan, sat me down in her office. She agreed to let me do my 40 hours of service there, and gave me a list of things that needed to be done. I told her about how I was in the drywall business and could possibly help with any construction work she needed. My first day, she gave me a list of rooms that had beds that needed to be made. She also showed me a drywall ceiling that needed to be fixed. At the end of the day I had worked maybe 4 hours. I walked in her office and told her more about the situation I was in. I told her how I was worried to death about going to jail, and I didn’t have enough time to do the community service before it was due. I asked her if she would sign a piece of paper saying that I completed it. I told her it would make me feel so much better, it would keep me from going to jail, and I promised I would come back and help her out to finish my hours…….. And she did…….
And I never went back….
Fast forward 20 years.
It’s March, of 2020. I’ve been through 3 rehabs similar to The Place of Hope. I have moved at least another 15 times, leaving behind friends and family, and starting over again and again. I never went back to Texas. But, I’m finally sober. 3 1/2 years for real Sober! I’m 37 years old now. I’m really an adult. I’m back around the family that left me behind in Texas. I rarely get a speeding ticket. Grandma has since gone to heaven, and I’m Co owner, with mom, of a few of our family restaurants.
Mom and Aunt Joey Started the original restaurant back in 2007, and in November of 2018, I opened our family bakery. We recently had to shut down our newest location in Columbia, and just the other day we had to shut down the original restaurant due to a virus that has been spreading rapidly called, COVID 19. With the other restaurants shut down and the fate of the bakery not looking good, we decided to put it all in Gods hands.
My wife, Hannah, sent me a picture of the bread shelves of our local grocery store. They were empty….. With the scare of the corona virus, everyone had been going out to all the stores and buying up all the paper products, milk, eggs, meats and breads. With us being a bakery, one of our specialties is bread. On March 19th, 2020, we decided that putting it all in Gods hands meant we were going to take a huge risk and put our faith to the test. We were gonna make bread, and give it to those in need, as a blessing………. for FREE! It didn’t take long for people to find out what we were doing….. And a blessing it has been……
My wife and I were in bed a few nights ago, it was march 22nd, when I heard the familiar ding of a message on my phone. With us giving out bread, I had been getting a lot of those dings. But this was a special ding. It was a lady that heard about what we were doing and was reaching out to us in hopes we could help the organization her husband worked with. She explained how it was a donation only organization that helped people with drug and alcohol addictions. With the corona virus, grocery stores were only allowing 1 to 2 loaves of bread per family. And they had 50 patients! She went on to explain all the great things they did and how appreciative they would be if we could help them out. She said if you are willing, you can contact my husband, his name is Dan, his number is ***-**** at…………………… “The Place Of Hope!”
I have tears in my eyes as I write this. With a huge smile on my face. I wish Grandma could read this story.
I believe God moves through Love. We decided to put things in His hands and show everyone Love, and He is moving. He opened that door for me to right a wrong with The Place of Hope, that I caused over 20 years ago, that has nagged at my heart all this time. It was amazing. I believe God wants us to live a righteous life as much as possible. He wants us to forgive, and be forgiven of sins, and wrong doings, so we can have a clear mind.
My wife went with me. We took 50 loaves of bread in the pouring rain. I didn’t care about the rain. I told everyone I met that day the story. I Searched for Jan, but it was 20 years ago, so I had no luck. When we got there the deacon heard of my story and asked to meet me. He had been there since they opened and wanted to hear the story first hand. It was great talking to him. What was even better was when I asked about grandma!
“I’m living a story that only God could write.” Rory Feek
We have since been able to donate more bread to The Place of Hope. Along with many other organizations in need. I am trying to get access to shoot some video to better tell the story. If you would like to donate to them you can do so at https://placeofhopetn.com/