Stories of Transformation: Richard

Richard grew up in a military family with 10 siblings. They lived in several places in Europe before being transferred to Luke Air Force Base. He attended both grade school and high school here in the Phoenix area in the 1960s when many young people followed the motto, “If it feels good, do it.”

Richard’s father wasn’t around much, as he liked to party with friends in his free time instead of spending time with his family. Richard tired several different drugs with his friends, but an addiction to alcohol is what stuck with him for years.

In spite of this, he joined the Army and came out of the service as a technician. Richard always excelled in whatever he chose to do. He became very proficient as a surgical technician and moved to California, working with several world-renowned surgeons at Cedar Sinai and other top medical facilities.

When the money was coming in, he made the mistake of smoking crack with his friends. This was the start of his undoing. He smoked crack for the next 20 years. As a result, his wife divorced him and he became estranged from his family. When his daughter was killed in an auto accident in 1999, Richard hit bottom. He bounced from job to job and ultimately ended up living for over six months in his car that didn’t run parked on the street just outside the Phoenix Rescue Mission.

As Richard spoke with a Mission chaplain, it became clear to him that a good home, career, family, and a beautiful wife weren’t enough to keep him off of drugs. That’s when he signed up for our Men’s Addiction Recovery Program. He had already been through three different programs in California, but none gave him what he needed to overcome his addictions.

Once in the program, Richard discovered that he could no longer blame anyone for his actions and life but himself, and he had to learn how to really forgive himself. As his relationship with the Lord grew, forgiveness became easier. As he puts it, “Nothing can change you like Jesus can.”

Richard graduated from the program in January, along with four other men. He is excited about his new life ahead. “What God’s given me I have to give back to others, not just hang on to it.” He plans to go back to school and study to become a drug and alcohol counselor. He wants you to know how much he appreciates your support. “Thank you for giving to the Mission and this God-sent program. This place gives us hope because Christ gives us hope!”