Kim VanBecelaere is the Assistant Naloxone Coordinator for FAN. For Recovery Month, she wanted to share this life-changing experience.
It was January 5th of 2018. I remember the day because I celebrate it every year with this young, courageous man I met. His birthday had been two days prior. He spent it in a crack house, the same place he spent his New Year’s Eve as well. This particular day, he got on a bus and decided he had enough. He took the bus to the Eastpointe Police Department and asked for help from Hope Not Handcuffs. Lucky for me, I was the volunteer Angel who was sent to assist him.
He was dirty, sad, scared. He looked like most participants we see, tired and worn out. The thing that made him different was that he had a big, kind heart, and I could feel it in the way he spoke. He was afraid to call family. He had been gone for four months. He did not want his mother to know where he was during those four months. I told him that I knew what his mom was feeling, because I was also the mother of someone who struggled with addiction for ten years. I told him, “She just wants to know right now that you are alive. Her mind is racing and wondering every night if you are still here in this world.” He started to cry, actually weep. I hugged him and told him he had made a great choice to come in and start his road to recovery.
It took me three days to get this poor man into treatment. There were issues with his insurance. It killed me to send him out the door to a shelter for two nights as we worked to get his insurance straightened out. Again, I became that mother who couldn’t sleep and was worried sick. Each morning that weekend, both Saturday and Sunday, he showed up at the police department to fight his way into a rehab. We spent a total of 30 hours together that weekend. But here is the thing: He showed up! Every morning, he got on that bus and showed up! I knew he was serious about recovery.
Monday came, and he allowed me to talk to his brother by phone. This took a lot of encouragement, as his brother was a priest. My participant was ashamed to call him, but finally gave in. Together, the three of us were able to secure him a place at a rehab facility. His life changed from that day on. So did mine.
His entire look changed. His color, his skin, his eyes, his smile. When I saw him after his 30-day stay in treatment, I was astonished at the transformation.
We talk often. He reminds me so much of my son. We celebrate every year on January 5th. I take him out for a steak dinner. We celebrate this new man in recovery. He is holding a wonderful job and just recently moved into his own apartment. He has girlfriends, he is happy. I have met his mom, who’s thanked me so many times for saving his life. I tell her, it was not me; it was the choice her son made to save his own life. I was just a middleman along the way.
I check on him, he checks on me. We share our life stories. He has become an important part of my life. Hope Not Handcuffs brought us together and gave us both peace and comfort. I am blessed.
Assistant Naloxone Coordinator
Families Against Narcotics