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5 Men Conquer Homelessness & Addiction


Hunter (service resident), Damian, Doug, John, Jon, and Sean.

A year ago, none of the men thought they could do it. Each was trapped in his own addiction, dragged down by a weight so burdensome that life just seemed hopeless. “I felt so alone,” Sean said. “I was deprived of any commitment to life. I didn’t have any purpose – the only thing that kept me going was using drugs.”

SEE ALSO: Sean’s Story of Hope video

But one by one, Sean, John, Damian, Jon, and Doug each discovered Portland Rescue Mission. Not just a soup kitchen. Not just the chance to get a good night’s rest. They instead found a comprehensive addiction recovery program – our New Life Ministry – that offered them a real chance to get their lives back on track.


“I used to believe that I will always fail. That I would never get anywhere,” Damian said. “I had a ‘why bother?’ attitude. Now I know that I do need help, and it’s there. I know it’s there. I’ve learned here that I’m a good person, I’m a loving person. I’m not all the negative things that my addiction wanted me to believe about myself.”

The New Life Ministry program consists of three pillars: vocational training, addiction recovery, and spiritual formation. In the first pillar, men and women learn teamwork, conflict resolution techniques, and real-world educational skills like computer and math proficiency. The second pillar deals with addiction. Through several phases that last at least a year, residents pour in blood, sweat and tears doing an intensive process with our counselors that gets to the root issues that led to addiction in the first place. The last pillar is spiritual formation. During their entire program here, residents faithfully attend devotions, Bible studies and small groups to learn God’s truth. Then they get plugged in to a local church where they can continue to be rooted in faith and connected to a supportive community, which is key to maintaining recovery after completing the program.


“Before I got here, I was starting to believe I would never recover,” John said. “I thought my addictions were going to be with me forever. What I’ve learned is that all that stuff can be overcome. And that’s where I am now. Now I see that it is possible. I got my hope back. Addictions are very hard to overcome, but it’s happening right here. For guys that stick with this program, it’s happening. This program has changed lots of lives and it will continue to.”

This past Sunday, all five of these men graduated from our New Life Ministry program. Friends, family, staff, volunteers and fellow program residents gathered to celebrate the accomplishments the men have achieved. During the event, each man had a chance to share a piece of his story.

SEE ALSO: Doug’s Story of Hope video

“I could say something overly dramatic, like, ‘Portland Rescue Mission saved my life and probably my eternal soul,’” Doug said. “But it wouldn’t be drama… it would be really true. I’m humbled, and I have to give all the glory to God. Because I’m not capable of this. He’s worked an amazing work in my life, and I’m grateful to stand here today in front of you. I’ve come a very long way.”


“Thanks for giving me my dad back.”

This week, the men are starting new chapters in their lives. Some of the men, like Damian, will re-enter the workforce. Doug is enrolled in college. He wants to be a radio show host. Sean is pursuing a third option. Residents who are interested can apply to move into a service role at the Mission somewhere in our ministries. This is an extra year where men and women stay at the Mission and learn and perform a vocation while they build experience and develop personally and professionally. They are trained to be leaders in their home, workplace, church and wherever else they may be.

Sean will live and work downtown at our Burnside Shelter, where he will be trained as an outreach specialist. He’ll interact on a daily basis with homeless men and women coming off the streets for help, using his own story to empathize with many of their own struggles. After a year of this, he plans to attend college.

SEE ALSO: John’s Story of Hope video

Thanks to the generous support of community members like you, Sean, John, Damian, Jon, and Doug have a second chance at life. Your continued support gives hope to the dozens of men and women currently in our New Life Ministry programs, as well as the hundreds that will follow.

“This chapter is over,” Doug said. “I’m moving forward. But the book’s not done. We’ve just started. This is where it gets good.”