Salvation Army ‘Center of Hope’ Homeless Shelter
Interviewed By: Peter S. Lopez
Introduction: I have known Brother Larry for several years now. It was kind of hard to pin him down for an interview with his busy schedule so we ended up doing the Interview mainly via Emails and telephone conversations. I wanted to do his Profile, as he is a shining example of the benefits of sober continued recovery and the Spiritual Path inspired by Our Lord Jesus Christ. I for one am a living witness to his personal growth and spiritual maturity as a Warrior for Christ on the frontlines of battle waging spiritual warfare.
Over the years he has been an inspiration for many in his continued personal recovery, in his honest help to others in practical survival matters, and in his on-going educational efforts to better himself in order to be of even better service to others.
He has one of the hardest underpaid jobs in the whole Sacramento region. If our rewards are in Heaven his rewards are guaranteed. He performs a tough job with conscientious compassion day after day, week after week and year after year up to this day. The harvest is fruitful but the laborers who are called few.
Through it all he has become more experienced, more seasoned and more wizened with the passage of time. He has a rare quality of mind and spirit that one cannot obtain by just going to a regular college or even a theological seminary. He is of a rare breed: a truly humble man of God who has obtained favor by God’s Amazing Grace!
Indeed, Brother Larry himself has been a Center of Hope for many people over the years!
PSL: Who are you?
I am the Program Coordinator for the Salvation Army “Center of Hope” Shelter. I am in charge of the program operation, staff supervision and daily accounting of entering and exiting clients. I am an administrator and direct service provider.
I am also a student at American River College and will graduate this June with a degree in Chemical Dependency. I am hoping to transfer to CSUS. I am also a CAADAC certified drug and alcohol counselor and have been one for nearly 2 years.
PSL: What is your position?
I started out as a client in September of ‘98, was hired as a monitor, got promoted to assistant to client services, case manager, then on to Program Coordinator two years ago.
PSL: Can you tell me about yourself?
I was born in San Francisco on October 14, 1956 and was raised by my mother and grandmother until my mother remarried when I was 5. My biological father left before I was a year old and I never knew him. He is now deceased. My step father was in the Coast Guard so we moved around frequently. First we moved to Florida for 2 years, then to San Diego for 3 years, then to Illinois for 1 year, then to my grandmother’s ranch in Mojave dessert, then to Long Beach, then to Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington D.C. While there I graduated from high school in 1974 and moved out of my house when I was 20 in 1976. I lived in that area for the next 6 years when I moved to Chico, California in 1982. I lived there where I had a Servpro franchise until 1990. Then moved to Sacramento, and have been living here ever since.
I have worked many jobs in my life. Arby’s fast food restaurant was my first job and I eventually became the youngest manager in the country at 16. I have worked most types of construction from laborer to carpenter, framer, drywall, concrete, cabinet installation, landscaping. I also worked local and long distance moving for a few years. I also worked for a funny car racer in the mid 70’s.
PSL: Can you review your background and interests?
I have a dark side. From the time I was sixteen, I have been an active substance user, then abuse. It started with alcohol during family dinners at the age of eight. When I was 15 it was acceptable to drink beer at home. I graduated to marijuana, then cocaine, speed in pill form, methamphetamine, heroin a few times, crack, then finally a full-blown addiction to meth and alcohol. Starting in 1991 I was arrested for possession of controlled substance and related crimes 8 times and finally was facing prison time. But as it worked out, I was sentenced to Drug Court and graduated in July of 1999 – been C & S (clean and sober) ever since.
I am an avid guitar player and am blessed to play and lead worship in the Shelter band every Sunday. It is a dream come true to have a regular gig. The band consists of five other members, drums, 2 lead guitar players, synth bass, piano and conga percussionist. It is one of my favorite things to do.
Eventually I want to graduate with a BA in Human Services, get a job that has a comfortable salary, start my own treatment program and get married.
PSL: Why did you decide to become an employee of the Salvation Army?
I became an employee because I loved the change in myself that occurred while I was a client and I wanted to be part of the team. It was also that I actually had an opportunity to work again as Overflow was just starting.
PSL: What do you like most/dislike most about your position?
The job is a great job. I get to help people see how to overcome their adversities in the context of a Christian program. I was there too and an able to help others through the process. It has a downside. We see many addictions overwhelm people, much debilitating mental health problems, and those who just take advantage of others. WE see much pain.
PSL: Have you ever taken care of someone? Did you enjoy it?
I have been active in this shelter for a long time and I see myself as a care giver on a large scale. I am so grateful to be here. I was also a caregiver for a quad man who was hit by a drunk driver. It was a short time but I did enjoy most of the job. Also, my friend Bill is in a wheelchair and I have been taking him to church every Sunday for over a year. In that respect I take care of him.
PSL: Do you consider yourself a risk taker?
Not really. I like to operate on surety rather than gamble.
PSL: Are you a positive and energetic person?
I am positive and energetic. It is the way I am able to cope with the demands on my life and those of the shelter. You have to be positive to be effective in this shelter. I am a regular group facilitator for the ARC treatment center spreading the message of hope and restoration.
posted by Peta de Aztlan at 5/12/2006 12:12:00 AM
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