Making the Most Out of Second Chances
Sixty-year-old Jerome Rodgers credits the positive state of his physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health to being clean for 11 years, and says staying sober would not have been possible without the Alcohol and Substance Abuse support program he attends twice a week at The Warwick Apartments in Newport News, Virginia.
Rodgers, who came to The Warwick 20 years ago, had been homeless before finding a home at the permanent supportive housing facility owned and managed by CHP. “All I had to my name was a suitcase full of clothes,” he said.
Unfortunately, Rodgers’ life took another downward turn when he became dependent on drugs. “Life became unimaginable because of drugs. While I was at The Warwick, I bounced a rent check. A church offered to pay it off if I agreed to get clean. I didn’t ever want to be homeless again so I made sure to quit doing drugs and alcohol,” Rodgers explained.
To help get himself off drugs, Rodgers began attending a free support program held on site at The Warwick that is led by CHP’s John Haywood, a substance abuse facilitator. “His experience helps a lot,” said Rodgers.
Tameka Davis, a Resident Services Coordinator at The Warwick, remarked, “John is more than a facilitator…he’s their friend. They have developed a bond with him and trust him.”
According to Haywood, “We talk about more than just substance abuse; we talk about the importance of communication, health and hygiene, relationships, budgeting, and just day-to-day living. Many of the program’s participants don’t know how to live without drugs and alcohol, and don’t have family or a support system to help them, so the resident services team tries to provide that for them.”
Davis added that the program is also convenient since it is held right in the building. “The location helps eliminate transportation and financial barriers.”
Said Rodgers, “Another good thing about it being on site is that other residents notice it’s going on, can watch our progress, and they sometimes get inspired to join in.”
Describing benefits of the support program, Rodgers said, “I find joy in participating in The Warwick group activities twice a week, plus it’s very educational. I have learned how to budget my money, how to take care of my mental and physical health, communicate properly with others, and be responsible.”
“I now have health and death insurance for my family and have my own automobile. I was introduced to an auto dealer by Haywood, and received a great deal on my car. I am an usher at Providence Baptist Church, which is the church that I am actively involved with. I am in hard thought about joining the singles ministry. I also assist with church clean up once weekly.”
“Since being in recovery, my overall health has improved dramatically. I now have a Community Services Board (CSB) nurse and a case manager that assists me with the various tasks I need help with. They are there when I need to be taken to the doctor or shopping, when I need counseling, or just help in general. I have learned how to control my anger and reconnect with my family and overall I have become a more responsible person who pays all his bills on time.”
“Life is better without drugs. I know that for sure. It is hard work, but I wake up with good thoughts and money in my pocket. I’m able to think clearly and not pity myself,” said Rodgers.
Davis stated, “It’s a program that’s greatly needed because, unfortunately, a large number of the homeless population suffer with substance abuse issues. It is challenging to get people to participate and stick with it, but it’s rewarding to see members break their addiction.”