From completely hopeless to a hope-filled heart.
Chris grew up in New York. After his parents divorced, he stayed with his mom and step dad, where he experienced abuse from his step dad, who was an addict. “By age 15, I was alone on the streets,” Chris said. He developed horrible anxiety and social phobias – he was fearful of people. “I moved to Ohio where my dad and step mom were living, but they didn’t want me either.”
Back on the streets by age 18, Chris says that even the stress and loneliness of living on the streets was better than being unwanted. Meeting his daily needs became his focus. “I worked at carry out stores and restaurants, but didn’t keep any job for long,” he admits. The drinking that began in high school became a serious addiction.
“My hurts, fears and anxieties were taking over. Drinking was a way of avoiding all that.” Chris says.
Alcohol addiction led to crime, and Chris was forced to get help. He remembers, “They wanted me to go to AA meetings. I would drive there, have a panic attack, and drive away without going in!”
In his mid-twenties, Chris was locked in the jail psyche ward, where they told him they would keep him because he had no place to go, and was dangerous. “I said I would go to Cherry Street, but that was a lie. I went back to the streets,” he explains. “For me, Cherry Street was a scary place. I was afraid of everything.”
After probation, Chris met a woman who had many of the same problems he had, “I thought it would be a good thing,” he shares, “That we would understand each other. I was wrong. She was like my step dad. Violent, alcoholic, and abusive.”
Six months before coming to Cherry Street in July, completely out of hope, he tried for the third time, to end his life. “I didn’t want to live like that anymore. But God made sure I was found. He led me to Cherry Street, and I know that was His way of saving me,” says Chris.
At forty years of age, and after decades of searching for hope and acceptance, Chris has finally found the answer at Cherry Street.
Chris entered the Ready for Life program. Through classes, Bible studies, and counseling, he started to trust God with his problems. “I understand that I have to change the way I think and believe, before I can change my behavior.” With knowledge, support, and complete surrender to God, he’s being transformed from the inside-out.
“I’ve been tested with my weaknesses, but I’m doing well!” Chris says the Cherry Street advocates and instructors have been an important part of his success. “They are godly people who truly care. They’re in my corner. Willing to sit down with me, reminding me that I’m worthy. I matter.”
Chris says he’s excited to be able to take his son to church with him. “I went to see my son recently, and handled the interaction with his mom well. I need to be the straight to her crooked, like Cherry Street teaches. I’m praying for her.”
While he’s come a long way, Chris recognizes he is a work in progress. He continues to get help with his social phobia and is working on other interpersonal skills. “I’m developing strengths I never knew I had, so I can accomplish great things,” he explains.
Chris has a message for our donors. “Cherry Street is worth investing in. From the staff, to the volunteers, to the programs, this is where people without hope can find God, safety, and hope. Cherry Street has saved my life. I found salvation, hope, and a new life. I never thought I’d find all that here. I’m a new person!” he asserts.