Filling In the Blanks
One of the many heart-changing moments I have experienced at the Eugene Mission occurred when I was reviewing digital paperwork after starting my new role. As I looked over guest intake forms, I noticed a tragic commonality.
I scanned through several forms again. There was no doubt. Far too many of our newer guests had a blank in that crucial relationship spot designated for “person to contact in case of emergency.”
I queried our loving, experienced staff:
Question: Are you sure?
Question: Really, no one? There is no one our guest would have us contact?
Question: Even if our guest is on the brink of death, no one?
Answer: Yes. But we’re praying, and with God, all things are possible.
This one blank data point encapsulated the terrible loss and disconnection present in so many of our guests’ lives. Whether the blank is due to relationship breakdown, shame, trauma or other reasons, the blank represents a state of debilitating “aloneness.”
Sharing Hope and working with our guests to rebuild healthy relationships is critical to not only filling this blank on the intake form, but also to rebuilding their lives. Our guests need to know they are not alone: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” [Psalm 34:18]
And further, that even if it is not His plan to restore some relationships, that He will not turn from them:
“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.” [Psalm 27:10]
It is on Hope, security and relationship that our guests can rebuild. God brings about healing and connection. At the Eugene Mission, we have the profound blessing of walking with our guests and watching as God fills this “blank” to overflowing with healthy, supportive relationships. We are delighted to share some of our guests’ experiences of “filling in the blanks” with you in this newsletter.
Life Change Graduation 2021
We are pleased to share the stories of our 2021 Life Change graduates. Each have completed the year long intensive residential relapse prevention program.
“It is incredible to see these people who come in here, so lost, so broken and so beat up — to see them walk out of here 18 months later with their head held high, with a job, with money in the bank,” says Life Change Director Denver Harris with visible emotion. “It’s incredible to watch God’s work in these people. Incredible.”
John Kelly came to the Eugene Mission hoping to break his addiction to alcohol and methamphetamine. Just days before starting the program, John was hospitalized with a serious overdose. John had failed multiple rehabilitation programs and was in and out of hospitals and detox centers when he applied to the Life Change Program. “I wasn’t sure I had another ‘go’ left,” shares John. “I thought I would die under a bush. God obviously had other plans.” As John prepares to graduate from the Life Change Program, he is working full-time at Pacific Metal Fabrication and saving for his future, which includes marrying his fiancé and “best friend.” John’s favorite part of the Life Change Program has been the relationships he has forged in a sober community that supports him and holds him accountable. Now over two years sober, John shares, “I am learning to live life on life’s terms. I have seen this program through to completion and learned that God has never failed me, and He never will. For me, that is simply miraculous.”
Daniel Norenberg was offered his first beer from his father when he was just four years old. He began using methamphetamine and other drugs as a teenager and spent much of his young adult life homeless. “My earliest childhood memories are filled with violence,” says Daniel. “My dad constantly hit my sister and me. I tried to end my life four times before coming to the Life Change Program.” Daniel shares that time in the program has helped him address early childhood trauma and sexual abuse that drove him to use alcohol and drugs. Daniel is now one year sober. “The Life Change staff have given me their time and they have helped equip me to face my past and move beyond it,” says Daniel. “I’m surrounded by people who are sober for the first time in my life.” We are thrilled to share that Daniel has completed his CDL certification and, with a year of sobriety and accountability, has been offered a full-time job driving for Walsh Trucking.
Alex Muvua came to the Eugene Mission at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a season of political unrest and a global turmoil, Alex spiraled into alcoholism and paranoia that left him feeling suicidal and hopeless. Alex came into the Life Change Program shaken to his very core. “Alcohol is baffling and cunning,” says Alex. “It swelled over me, and I walked away from everything I cared about.” Alex is now one year clean and sober and has returned to his love of running and playing soccer. “This has been the best year for me,” says Alex, smiling. Alex is now working full-time at NW Auto Detailers alongside fellow graduate David Helder. “I am not alone in this struggle,” says Alex. “I am walking with God, and I’ve felt a sense of love I cannot put into words. I have happiness again. I thought everything was lost.”
David Helder decided to give the Life Change Program a try after bumping into Program Director Denver Harris on the hiking trails of Skinner’s Butte early one morning. Denver was out for a stroll and David was folding up the small camping space he had just spent another night in while living outdoors. “It was kind of a miracle,” shares Denver, smiling. David had struggled with drug addiction and periods of sobriety and relapse that left him feeling hopeless. Currently 16 months sober in the Life Change Program, David has worked hard on his coping patterns that lead to addiction and codependent tendencies. David has taken up running and joined the Oregon Track Club along with his Life Change mentor. David has also returned to his love of music and plays the piano at his church and Celebrate Recovery meetings. Currently, David is working full-time at NW Auto Detailers and saving money for his future with a plan to inspire others trapped in addiction to seek a path off the streets. “All things are possible with God,” shares David, smiling.
Kyle Endicott came to the Eugene Mission to break his addiction to methamphetamine. Kyle is now 19 months sober. As Kyle contemplated entering the Life Change Program, he learned he would be a father and that his daughter would be born into the foster care system, a system Kyle himself experienced as a child. Prayers were answered when a loving couple agreed to care for baby Leah while Kyle worked to get his life on track with faith and sobriety. Leah’s foster parents are “adopted grandparents” and Kyle now has custody of Leah. Kyle is working full-time at Monaco Tool Company and is looking to thrive in a long-term career. “I am over a year sober and tobacco-free,” shares Kyle. “Thank you, Lord, for believing in me and loving me in times I couldn’t trust or love myself.” Kyle is surrounded by a supportive network including his Life Change mentors and Leah’s foster parents as he transitions into his new life as a sober father.
Jackson Conrad came to the Life Change Program as an alcoholic who had relapsed after completing four separate rehabilitation programs. “A 30-day program just wasn’t long enough to set me up to live sober,” shares Jackson. “It’s a tough deal. I knew I would end up in prison if I didn’t get help. I already had two DUIIs.” Jackson is 16 months clean and is working full time at Monaco Tool and saving for his future. When not at work, Jackson is active in Life Change service projects and attending sobriety support groups. “I have been in this amazing God-orchestrated program, and I have been released from my addiction through my faith in Jesus Christ,” says Jackson. “I have learned so much in this program!”
Preston Harris joined the Life Change Program after years of struggling with alcoholism, homelessness, periods of sobriety and what seemed like an inevitable relapse. “I was so depressed and so bitter,” recounts Preston in his written testimony. “My father moved away when I was young, and I was looking for a man figure in my life. The people I chose were smoking and drinking, so I did too. I didn’t realize how angry I was for feeling left.” Preston shares that the Life Change Program helped him address his patterns of thinking and his anger and disappointment that drove him to drink and use drugs. Now 2 years sober, Preston is living in Phoenix, Arizona close to family he has reconciled with. He works full-time as a security guard and is active in his church. “God makes a way out of no way,” shares Preston, smiling. “I was holding a lot of things in.”
Anthony Hardy started drinking during his teenage years and found his experimentation had become an everyday habit that he couldn’t stop. After completing a program in Portland, Anthony maintained a period of sobriety and then started drinking again. After losing his job and alienating family and friends, Anthony lived in his car where he ultimately received a DUII and legal trouble. Anthony came to the Eugene Mission in early 2020 to enroll in the Life Change Program and address his patterns of thinking that resulted in addiction relapse. Anthony shares that the Life Change Program provided the time and structure he needed to re-organize his thoughts, meet benchmarks and take his future seriously. In August, he will be 20 months sober. Anthony gave his life to Christ during his time in the Life Change Program and is now working full-time at a Detox Center and living in an Oxford House sober community.
Honorary Life Change Graduate Kimber Walton
Kimber Walton was presented with an Honorary Life Change Certificate at the June 18th Life Change Graduation. Kimber Walton participated in Women’s Life Change four years ago and has become an active member of City First Church, including serving as the praise leader for Celebrate Recovery. Kimber has a pastor’s license and has been a tremendous source of encouragement and inspiration to current Life Change participants. Many guests of the Eugene Mission have sought support and services after meeting Kimber under the Washington-Jefferson Street Bridge. Kimber is five years sober and looking forward to her future in ministry to the unhoused and those who wish to break free from the chains of addiction.
Please pray that our guests who stayed with us through the pandemic and are successfully obtaining housing and employment. May they remain strong in their faith and their sobriety. Amen.
Ways To Give
- Financial support for the Eugene Mission as we work with our guests to address barriers and challenges
- Bottled water
- Bicycle helmets
- Men’s athletic shoes
- Diapers size 4-6
- Baby wipes
- Mustard, mayo and ketchup packets
- New socks and underwear
Please join Sheryl Balthrop, Beth Sheehan and Denver Harris for conversation and a tour of the Eugene Mission. We would love to show you around!