“St. Patrick Center is a safe place to go where you can gradually work yourself into recovery. This place doesn’t shun you for messing up.”

It has been a 20-year process for Rick to find happiness, but he’s finally on the right path. He has been sober before in recovery for alcoholism, but through St. Patrick Center he was able to discover what led him to drink and now he’s working through those demons. “It feels like a light has been turned on; I finally get it. I was still in the idea that I didn’t have a problem—that drinking was my problem.”

Through therapy sessions in our Project HERO program for veterans, Rick discovered that a tumultuous upbringing by his mother created toxic relationships with women in his life. “I felt lost, trying to please every female possible.” He began masking pain from his childhood, failed marriages and traumatic Army service with binge drinking. That led to losses— jobs, family, friends—and eventually homelessness.

When Project HERO placed Rick in an apartment at Freedom Place, he had to participate in a minimum of three programs a day, which he thought was a lot, but now feels empowered him to lead programs and help other veterans like himself. “I’m proud to be doing something I’m passionate about.” In addition to being a peer support leader, Rick entertains fellow residents with his guitar and has been asked to give lessons.

Eventually, Rick wants to become a peer support specialist. He hopes to lease a different apartment at Freedom Place next year and continue doing what he feels he was born to do—help others help themselves. “It’s my way of paying forward the help that St. Patrick Center has given to me.”

Published March 16, 2020