Meet Michael C—a man in recovery after a longtime addiction to drugs. His story:
My first experience with St. Anthony’s was when I was homeless. I would come here and eat. I was like a ghost. I was embarrassed I was getting food given to me.
I’ve been with the Fr. Alfred Center for 13 months. Living in the program gives you time out in your life where you can really focus on things you need to work on.
My use of meth and my ability to lie to myself allowed me to break into offices to steal whatever I could find to support my habit. I finally got caught and I was scared. I was given the opportunity to go through drug court. They take all of your charges and they’ll excuse them. The financial aspect of it, they’ll get rid of it for you. I went through the Father Alfred Program because I was homeless and I needed a place to live. They offered me a live/work environment.
The first phase is about 60 days long. You are really getting used to sleeping again, eating regular meals and having a place to call your own. When you start going through that process, you start remembering things, and you start having to deal with the things you’ve done in your past. I worked through the detritus of my life, all of the people I’ve had in my life that I’d hurt, and all the bad things I’d done.
I started working more closely with individuals, my peers as well as my counselors, and really listening to the message that they were bringing. It’s important to be around a bunch of people who are going to be there for a long time. You start building friendships again.
The second phase is really the backbone of the program. You have more responsibility. We bring others up who come into the program. You try to be a good example. You hold each other accountable. For me it had been years since I had surrounded myself with people who were living in a solution rather than slowly killing themselves.
The third phase, you are introduced to the Tenderloin Tech Lab. You work with the people there to build your resume, learn computer skills, and do mock interviews. In the fourth phase, you go out looking for jobs. Before I became a criminal, I was a chef. I went to culinary school. I had a career. But then, after years of neglecting my life, I wondered if I was still employable.
I got a job! I can’t remember the last time I was paid minimum wage, and it was humbling. Now I manage a gym and we make sure that all of the machines are working and clean the studios and do laundry. It’s different than my other career path, but I’m really happy. It allows me to put my recovery first. It allows me to give back to St. Anthony’s by volunteering or going back and being part of the house at the Fr. Alfred Center.
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