Mark, 50, is over two years sober, but has struggled with mental health and addiction much of his life.
He and his sister moved from Kansas, and they only had each other for support. They eventually found Springs Rescue Mission, which Mark said they mostly utilized for food and a safe place to sleep at night. However, Mark still struggled with addiction.
When sister left the Mission though, Mark continued... to receive help at SRM and began to reconsider programs he’d turned down before. He attended classes on coping skills, took advantage of medical and dental services, and sought spiritual guidance.
"Going through the programs, I’ve found that I’m better fed,” Mark said. “I’m spiritually fed now. I’ve been in recovery. I’ve just got all these great things working for me now.”
Mark said he didn’t have much of a father growing up, as his biological one lived in another state, and his mom (who later died of cancer), had a boyfriend who was extremely abusive.
He said an undesirable childhood, mental illness and an injury that resulted in a degenerative-disc disorder, are what led him to addiction and depression.
“I was in rough shape, and I could barely make it up the stairs to the shelter,” he said.
Mark spent a decent amount of time at SRM, but relapsed, left, and returned determined to “invest” in the programs. It was then that he signed up for SRM's four-month Intensive Outpatient Program for addiction recovery.
So he joined, and slowly his reluctance and anger turned to appreciation and gratitude.
“I graduated [addiction recovery], got my certificate and I let my sponsor hold onto that because I didn’t want to break it,” he said. “It was important to me. It was valuable – more valuable than anything I could imagine.”
Since graduating the program, Mark has been an active participant in SRM’s vocational training and is by all accounts a hard worker. He’s continued to acquire coping skills and “more tools in his tool belt” to stay away from “bad habits,” as he calls them.
Mark has received thirteen class certifications at SRM, recently started a custodial job at one of the city’s hospitals and is now on a wait list for housing.
“I’ve done all these wonderful things, and I probably wouldn’t have done it without my therapy and without people invested in me and giving me hope again,” he said.
Although he didn’t grow up in church, Mark said he always felt somewhat spiritual, but that SRM staff — especially David, the chaplain — have helped him to develop and lean on his faith.
“I started reading Bible passages and I found some that related to me,” he said. “I started highlighting them and pretty soon, the whole thing is almost highlighted now.”
Mark said his goals are to have stable housing, sustained work and to enjoy life – that “instead of being a weight on society, be a productive member of society.”
Homelessness and addiction tend to be cyclical, but one of SRM’s many goals is to help residents be self-reliant, while walking through life with faith.
“Springs Rescue Mission isn’t a final stop. It’s a little rest in between,” Mark said, and with faith being the core of SRM’s mission, a Bible verse sums it up.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am a gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:28-29