After decades of living on the streets, being addicted to crack cocaine and going in and out of prison, Charles (who preferred not to use his last name) thought he would never change – but his incredible redemption story proves it’s never to late to start over.
Charles told Faithwire he’d basically given up on life. “(I was) living at the Port Authority … bus station (and) train stations. I was just so beaten down that my spirit was so broken. I just felt hopeless and like that was going to be my life, the remaining of life was going to be surviving in the streets.”
His battle with drugs started while he was in college and continued when he left his family home in Connecticut to come to the Big Apple.
At the time, he said, “I got lost in the faces of many in New York City.” After years of trying to out smart cops, tourists and bouncing in and out of jail, he felt deflated. “I didn’t think that there would be a transformation in my life.”
According to The National Alliance to End Homelessness January 2015 statistic, there is an estimated 564,708 people that are homeless on a given night of the week across America.
“Of that number, 206,286 were people in families, and 358,422 were individuals. About 15 percent of the homeless population – 83,170 – are considered “chronically homeless” individuals.” Charles was in the 15 percent, until he had a life changing encounter.
“One day when I was doing what I normally do – panhandling for money outside at 7-Eleven to get enough money for my crack addiction – there was a change that came over me that I felt all of a sudden,” Charles said.
“At that moment I felt valued and that there was a chance for me to turn my life around so I walked away from the Port Authority and I happened to run into a relief bus on the corner that gave me some hot soup and told me about a relief program where you (could) get your life back together and you can at least get off the street and receive some help.”
That place for Charles was the New York Rescue Mission.
The work of the organization spans through every season of the year and ramps up during the holiday season which starts at Thanksgiving and goes to the New Year.
This past Thanksgiving, the team opened up their facility to all people who needed food and served an estimated 1,000 hungry, men and women at its 18th Annual “Great Thanksgiving Banquet.”
The Christian based relief agency said in a press statement that “the homeless population is currently the highest in the story of our great city.”
There has been an “unprecedented surge” in the volume of meals needing to be served in the last twelve months. The group explained that, “We are now preparing meals for almost 600 every day, and providing shelter to over 200.”
At New York City Rescue Mission – a great organization. Check them out! pic.twitter.com/PIsOwyCJy4
— Stacey Campbell (@StaceyCampbellC) September 17, 2016
Outside of days like this, where Charles shared a smile and spent time serving others who possibly came from a similar walk, he’s working on acquiring skills to make sure he stays off the streets by embracing the programs and efforts created by the New York Rescue Mission.
Th Mission’s website states, it is focused on providing a holistic approach to healing and offers emergency housing, a food pantry, clothes, medical and social services.
New York City Rescue Mission has emergency shelter beds at 90 Lafayette just south of Canal for men and woman.
— MyCivicWorkout (@MyCivicWorkout) December 16, 2016
Now looking back, Charles said, “Little did I know is that here is a place where people will love on you and encourage you to change your life and meet you right where you are.”
“When I felt hopeless and useless they gave me hope by telling me my dreams can be pursued, and to stay here a little longer to try (and) turn my life around.
Want to help turn around the life of someone just like Charles? Check out NYRescue.org and consider getting involved.