How many of us would still consider ourselves lucky if we were homeless? That’s the power of positive thinking. Even though James (left in pic) spent two months living in a public park in northwest Charlotte, he considered himself lucky because it was springtime and it never rained during that time. He slept on the top of a jungle gym, and he had a comforter.
This doesn’t mean he did not have bad thoughts. James often thought about jumping when he was walking on a bridge over I-77. He was close to doing this one day when he got a feeling that his life didn’t belong to him. He also got a very strong feeling that if he jumped, he would not die but that he would be left to live and to suffer for the rest of his life.
James decided to start putting his life back together. He spent a few months in a local shelter before getting referred to SHC. After moving in to McCreesh Place, James started attending grad school at Montreat College (he is currently just four classes short of receiving his Master’s degree). He was then able to move out of McCreesh Place and into a rental house with his wife Cynthia.
But things got bad again. James and his wife separated, and he relapsed and dropped out of school. James again determined that he would turn things around. He received drug treatment, and he lived in a halfway house for a while. Then he got back together with his wife, and they got an apartment together. James was attending AA meetings, and he had an AA sponsor. Life was good.
James was working part-time so he could also take care of Cynthia, who had Multiple Sclerosis. James is glad he was able to spend that extra time with her because a year ago, she passed away from a heart attack. The love of his life for 14 years, James now visits her grave often.
Even with this sadness in his life, James did not relapse this time. In fact, supporters gathered around James during his time of need and even paid for Cynthia’s funeral expenses.
James reflected on his life experiences and determined that he would like to become a peer support counselor. This position provides recovery training, outreach and support to people receiving mental health services. This position provides hope, encouragement, support and connection to the community.
“If I can help one person from the living hell that I experienced, everything that I went through will be worth it.”
James completed the training, and this past May, he became a Peer Support Specialist for SHC. He loves being in the field and working with his caseload of 15 residents, including SHC resident Dwayne (right in pic). He gives 110% to the residents because he has lived it. He knows what it is like to be powerless over your addiction.
James reiterates, “Life is good today. I love my job. I can’t wait to get up in the morning and go to work. I am happy and blessed because I know it's not just luck. God has truly blessed me.”