When asked what he wants most for others to understand about his life, Bernard Rascoe starts with his childhood.
His parents were both alcoholic and abusive. “Whenever they fought, one of them went to the hospital.” Bernard was in foster care by the time he was 6 until he was 17. “I was angry a lot, and had a lot of resentment,” he says, but it wasn’t all bad. “My mom loved to cook, and she was a good cook. My dad always came home to eat! It fascinated me how naturally she did it,” says Bernard. “I was always fascinated by food.”
Bernard has worked most of his adult life as a cook. He quit school after the 10th grade and was a dishwasher, then cook, in the Army Reserves. He experienced alcohol as part of that culture, and his drinking problem got worse. “I managed to survive basic training and my 8 years there, but my attendance was lacking.” He got his GED and tried college, always able to get jobs doing what came naturally – cooking. He also lost job after job when his drinking interfered. “I was making decent money, but I kept spending it and trying to start over again,” he says.
Alcohol led to drugs, and addiction led to depression, and more than one suicide attempt. “Being suicidal to me was an escape route – I had nothing left.” Bernard eventually ended up in a hospital that offered to send him to Charlotte, somewhere drug dealers weren’t familiar to him. With nothing left to lose, Bernard accepted. “When I got to the Salvation Army, it was the first time in a long time I had a good meal on a consistent basis. I got settled there.”
Then he heard about Urban Ministry Center’s recovery program, SABER (Substance Abuse Education and Recovery.) The nine-month program helped Bernard get stable in his recovery. “When I started going to those meetings, truly going to those meetings, it was like the neon lights flashing: Willing! I became willing to try recovery one more time. Giving up is not the answer. You can always go back and get your pain and misery back. I can always go back to using, it’s always out there waiting for me. I choose to live, one day at a time.” Bernard graduated from SABER despite the setback of his mother’s death while he was there. “I feel good that my mom got to see me clean when I wasn’t using, especially toward the end.” On September 4th, Bernard celebrated 3 years in recovery!
At McCreesh Place, Bernard is moving on with his life.
Bernard graduated last year from the Community Culinary School of Charlotte and works as a cook at the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. He’s taken care of serious dental needs, and purchased a car. He serves as a Resident Association officer, and often cooks for his neighbors. He’s also furthering his education at CPCC. “This dietary management certificate can lead to a lot of things for me – better pay, a full-time job, benefits.” When asked how he’s endured, Bernard says, “It was God’s will that I’m here. I’d have been dead a long time ago if it was up to me. I have a purpose; and part of that is living, experiencing and giving.”