Thankful at last- thanks to you!
When Ray arrived at Cherry Street just before Thanksgiving in 2007, there wasn’t much in his life to be thankful for. Addicted to alcohol and estranged from his family, the Toledo native had been living on the streets since Spring.
“I began drinking when I was 13, working nights, cleaning a bar,” explained Ray, now 55. “My drinking got really bad when I was 26 or 27. I was able to keep my job at the Ford Stamping Plant in Maumee because I was one of those drunks who could function. But I started losing my relationship with my family. I was raised in church, but I stopped going. The drinking took over.”
In 2005, he went to prison for 18 months for writing bad checks, losing his job and home as a result. When he left prison, he had nowhere to go but the street. Still drinking, he was blacking out often, waking up in places he didn’t remember going to.
Fortunately, his sister took him to Rescue Crisis, where he was treated for depression, anxiety, and alcohol addiction. Then he came to Cherry Street.
“At first, I didn’t like anybody here,” Ray stated. “I kept on drinking and stayed in trouble. But the staff didn’t turn their back on me. It took about five months, but then I saw that all Cherry Street wanted to do was help me. They knew I was drinking, but they never kicked me out for it. That meant they really cared. It gave me hope and made me want to do better, to make them proud of me.
“I decided I was tired of being tired. I started working with the [Ready For Life] program.” Finally, on July 15, 2010, Ray asked God to help him stop drinking.
“I promised I’d never pick up another drink,” Ray said, “and it really made me feel good when the staff said they believed me. I thought I was going to have a real hard struggle, but I didn’t, so I knew it couldn’t be anybody but God. Once I stopped drinking, the Lord blessed me with a job as a handyman.”
Now in the Release phase of the Ready For Life program [see sidebar on page 7], Ray lives in our Caleb House, where he’s using the knowledge and skills he’s gained in the program to make the transition to independent living. He’s reestablished his relationship with his family, and his relationship with God has never been stronger.
“I’ll never forget what Cherry Street did for me,” Ray stressed. “I am grateful for the patience the staff had with me. And to those who volunteer and donate, Thank you very much. All the guests here appreciate what you’re doing for us.”