January 24, 2010

A journey that ends on a Portland Sidewalk

Category: Charity, Community — admin @ 8:08 pm

Before Obama was president.  Before the banks were bailed out, the Salahi’s crashed the White House and the Balloon Boy gained infamy, a journey began in Washington.  After years of functioning as an alcoholic, James grew tired of his life in the northern corner of the Pacific Northwest.  He felt alienated from his friends, he hated himself, he saw no reason to keep plugging along.

So, he packed a bag and walked.  He walked out on family, friends and the life that he built and headed south.  He never really had a destination in mid.  Few people in James’ place do.  They just have to get away.  It’s a common trend with addiction.

The length of his journey isn’t clear, but, after a while, he landed on a Portland sidewalk in Old Town.  To him, it seemed like just another space on the game board that was his wayward journey to who-knows-where.  But what James didn’t realize, is he’d actually reached the end of one chapter and was about to open a brand new book in his life (holy mixed metaphor there Batman).

The sidewalk was outside the Portland Rescue Mission.  James wandered inside to warm up and, hopefully, score a place to sleep for the night.  At the time, he didn’t realize where he was or what the Mission had to offer.  That night was all he could focus on.

Once inside the Portland Landmark just off the Burnside Bridge, James started chatting with one of the Chaplain’s.

“He said, G-d wants you to be here right now,” recalls James.  ”I was like . . . WHOA, really?”  The notion that his life had purpose and mistakes of his past would not define his future gave the man pause.

At that point, James stopped his winding, endless trek through the Northwest and began a fresh journey.  One that did not require a car, train, plane or boat, but perhaps more difficult and more rewarding than any travels across the nation or around the world.

He got sober.

Ten months of focused work with the program at the Portland Rescue Mission provided the U-Turn his life desperately needed.  What’s more, with his addiction’s coming under control, James has been able to make amends with some of those he left behind in Washington and begin building a new life.  In fact, he’s looking at a return to the culinary arts and running his own restaurant in the next few weeks.

Stories like James happen every day at the unassuming building in Old Town.  If you’d like to get involved, make a donation, or find some other ways to help out, check out their website here.

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