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Burnside Shelter

Isolated no more, Kelcey found meaning at The Harbor

Kelcey wanted a friend. He’d do just about anything to fit in to be accepted and known. “I thought alcohol would help me be this nice guy, that it was going to help me relate to people,” says Kelcey. He’d invite people over to his house or to a bar, hoping they’d chat all night and have fun. But his plans always backfired.

Inevitably, Kelcey would drink too much, become angry and destructive. “It was really just tearing me apart,” he says. “It made me even more lonely. I’d be that guy that no one wanted to be around.”

Rejection and isolation were normal feelings for Kelcey. As a child, life taught him to believe that he was on his own, that he was worthless. He first turned to drugs and alcohol as a way to fit in with misfit kids and outcasts like him. But even there, he felt alone.

Kelcey’s survival tactic – staying drunk or high as much as possible – robbed years of his life. Physically sick and emotionally anguished, he couldn’t get to the ideal, normal life he longed for. Education, jobs and relationships all slipped away. He was in and out of jail, and sometimes homeless.

I’d be on the street walking around all night with no place to go, and cold. My feet hurt from walking so much and the blisters,” says Kelcey. Walking across the Portland bridges, he wished he could give up and jump over the edge.

While in jail last year, Kelcey heard from a woman he’d known. She found help at Portland Rescue Mission and hoped Kelcey would consider joining the yearlong New Life recovery ministry at The Harbor. He gratefully agreed.

Now a year into his recovery journey, Kelcey finds his heart changing for the better. “I’ve learned love for other people. Patience for people. I’ve learned self-care, basic things like calling a doctor when I need one,” says Kelcey. “I’m learning responsibility and how to become a man.”

“I knew God was out there. I just didn’t know how to connect with Him,” says Kelcey. “Now I feel him working in my life. I’m clean. I’m sober. I feel like my life has purpose again.”

More than anything, Kelcey is thrilled to have what he always longed for – meaningful friendships. He’s surrounded by men who’ve lived the same kind of pain. They talk openly about problems and support each other. “I pray for people and listen to them. I’ve learned teamwork. Things I just didn’t know before.”

When Kelcey graduates from the recovery program this month, he looks forward to attending school and staying with the Mission an additional year in the Service ministry. He’ll learn valuable vocation skills and give back to offer support to men like him who are still in need of recovery.

To help more men, women and children in need, make a special donation today online. Or call 503-MISSION (647-7466).