After 36 years of struggling with substance use, Sam recalls the moment when he looked at himself in the mirror and decided to turn his life around. It was the winter of 2019, and he was a new resident at a transitional home.
“As long as I was out of [the shelter system], I felt that I was going to have a better chance of surviving,” Sam said, recalling how he was surrounded by people engaging in substance use at the shelter.
After leaving the shelter system on January 5th, 2019, he experienced homelessness for three months, before finding a place to live at a transitional home that spring.
Leaving the shelter allowed him to more deeply focus on his mental health and work towards healing and recovery. It was also during this time that he joined the community at The Fortune Society.
Sam began participating in Treatment Services, and also found support and community at Fortune’s Recovery program at the NEST (Networking and Engagement Services Team), which provides services and a space for individuals in recovery from substance use issues. The program offers weekly support groups, peer support through recovery coaches and staff with lived experience, access to Fortune’s Arts programming, and free meals. Throughout COVID-19, the NEST has continued its services virtually, with some in-person services available.
A group session at the NEST in 2019.
Sam grew to love and immerse himself in the community at Fortune, completing recovery coach training and interning at the NEST. As an intern, he channeled his lived experience into helping others in recovery, running the NEST’s reception desk, answering calls, and helping to oversee activities in the space. He also volunteered for Fortune’s kitchen.
Today, Sam is a certified Peer Advocate and still in touch with the NEST community. He knows Fortune’s services are always there for him, and continues to be passionate about empowering others in recovery. He stresses the importance of eliminating sources of negativity from one’s life and addressing underlying mental health issues that often fuel substance use.
Understanding how lonely recovery can be at first, he is determined to share his experience to empower others and help them realize “that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that they don’t need to give up.”