For 24 years, Charles, 62, struggled with a drug and alcohol addiction that caused him to spend several years of his life incarcerated and nearly a decade on the streets. It wasn’t that he hadn’t tried to get clean. He’d actually admitted himself into several rehabilitation facilities over the years, but he just couldn’t gain control over his drug and alcohol dependency.
“I gave all those programs everything I had and it just felt like the harder I would try, the harder it became for me to stick with it,” said Charles as he remembered his many years of moving from city to city, rehab to rehab, and shelter to shelter, until, he finally landed in Jacksonville.
After promising himself to never return to jail, again, in October 2014, Charles was preparing to stand before a judge to address another drug-related offense when he was offered an opportunity of a lifetime. Unbeknownst to him, his repeated encounters with the criminal justice system made him an ideal candidate for CHOP (Chronically Homeless Offender Program), a Sulzbacher Center program sponsored by Lutheran Services Florida Health Systems, LLC and the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families, designed in collaboration with Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to give chronically homeless repeat misdemeanor offenders a chance to break the destructive cycle. Sulzbacher Center’s Shelter Service Administrator, Brian Snow, showed up in court that day to advocate on Charles’s behalf. This #oneday would change the entire course of Charles’s life
Within no time, Charles was placed in a furnished scattered-site apartment receiving wrap-around services in his home instead of at the Center. In November 2014, Charles admitted himself into an intense rehabilitation program and with the help of his Supportive Living Coach, Susan Sulzbacher, he was finally able to beat his addiction.
“After three days of being clean, I figured I could do anything,” he said. “It feels great. Being sober is its own high. I felt trapped and I’m so happy I have my own place and can go home and place my key in the door.”
Today, Charles credits much of his success to the structure of CHOP because he feels it empowered him to use his own skills and talents to help himself after he was placed in housing instead of requiring him to be clean to receive additional assistance. He also acknowledges the impact that Susan has had in his life describing her as his inspiration and motivation to stay on the right track because of her “deep love for humanity.”
“I’m just so thankful. I think I owe it to the program and to the Center to do the best I can do and to myself. I want to make the rest of my life the best of life.”
For 20 years, we’ve transformed lives one day at a time, one person at a time. So, we know amazing things can happen in just one day. You can help more people like Charles by joining the Sulzbacher #2020Challenge and helping us raise #20kin20Days! Visit gofundme.com/2020challenge and #DonateADay for second chances.