As one of the legendary quotes goes from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Clarence (the angel) tells George Bailey, “No man is a failure who has friends.” And for many of the residents at The Harbor, this could not be truer as they not only remain in community there, but push through the hard reality of addiction recovery, and begin transforming their life narrative in ways they never thought possible.
For Eli, his time at The Harbor has provided something He had lacked for so long. It’s given him new perspective. “I have hope. I don’t feel like hiding from anybody—from the world,” he said. “I’m still working through some anxiety issues, but I do so with hope on my side.
“I’m actually going to be around people that care for me, and that I know truly care for me. Both my brothers at The Harbor, and the staff and volunteers.”
Just one year ago, Eli had one of his worst Christmases ever. In the midst of his addiction, he realized he was becoming the one thing he never thought he would be. He was turning into a “deadbeat dad.”
“Things were getting bad. I wasn’t working. I was using drugs and hiding it from my girlfriend at the time. I wasn’t able to buy gifts, and in my addiction, I was just a jerk,” he explained. “It’s why I came to the Harbor. I believe this can change me and that I’m taking steps in the right direction.
“My son needs me in his life, but I can’t be there for him when I’m messed up.”
When Jesse was in the midst of his addiction, his family wouldn’t even let him into their house until he got the help he needed. Something Jesse knew he had to do if he wanted to be in his family’s lives.
“I missed a lot of Christmases due to the choices I made in my addiction. This year … my whole family wants me there being a part of it. They all understand that I’m here trying to take care of myself,” he said.
It’s also allowed Jesse the time to see Christmas in a whole new light.
“I haven’t spent a whole lot of time thinking about myself this Christmas. Instead, I’ve been thinking a lot about others and how they’re doing all the while being reminded how much people care,” Jesse explained. “And as someone that sometimes has a little bit of struggle with their faith, it’s been a real big reminder that there is a higher power, and that God is out there.”
Cold, alone, isolated, and in a cloud of dread and despair, Kevin’s Christmas on the streets of Las Vegas still haunts him. As he was trying to gain some sort of footing in life, and in purpose, Kevin found himself wondering why he was even alive.
“I remember waking up and thinking to myself I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had no hope whatsoever, and I had given up at that point. I didn’t care what happened to me,” he described. “I did really try to remember what the meaning of Christmas was all about, and I tried to use that to pull me through, but it was hard because I wasn’t in a good place in my head.
“I never blamed God for my circumstances … but I couldn’t understand what possible plan He could have. … That faith that was as small as a mustard seed, though, is about all I had at the time, and that’s all it took.”
And since those nightmarish days on the streets of Las Vegas, it has taken Kevin far.
Kevin spends his vocational hours in downtown Portland at our Burnside Shelter doing the lottery for beds available to our guests. Since entering the New Life Ministry for men at The Harbor, what was once a lonely life for Kevin has become one of service and fulfillment.
“I’m in a place where I’ve got a bed, I’ve got a roof over my head and I’m with like-minded people that encourage me which is really important,” he explained. “Being able to go out, smile, laugh, and joke with people that don’t have that right now, a place where I’ve been before and can understand, it lifts my spirit. And hopefully it lifts theirs as well.”
All three of the men’s stories you’ve read above are being changed because of your generosity. It’s your compassionate gifts and donations to Portland Rescue Mission that allow us to give hope and restore life for men like Eli, Jesse and Kevin at The Harbor. They’re working hard toward a new life, and you’re working hard to make that possible for them.
Especially for helping us meet our Project Christmas Care goal. This project was not only fully funded, but was funded one day BEFORE our deadline last Friday. Thank you for the role you’ve played in helping the men, women and children in our programs make new Christmas memories and gain new perspective during what should be the most wonderful time of the year.