Have you ever been told that you would never amount to much and that you would never accomplish anything of significance? Jerrious heard those words all too often as he grew up struggling to deal with his serious mental illness and drug abuse. Jerrious, diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic, was told his attention span and mental illness would prevent him from earning his high school diploma, going to college and living on his own. His drug addiction only added to his problems.
He left home at 18. With nowhere to live, he first went to The Salvation Army, and after a short stay, someone told him to visit The Firehouse Shelter. Jerrious joined the T.E.A.M. (pre-treatment and substance abuse recovery program) and Clyde Chisholm (TEAM Leader at the time) taught him to “keep it simple” and to identify what his “true” needs and wants were. He needed housing, food, clothing, mental health care and to stop using illegal drugs. He was moved to Safe Haven (a program for 24 men who struggle with mental illness-many of whom also struggle with substance abuse). Jerrious stated, “Safe Haven was a fresh start, a new beginning and helped monitor my medicine intake.”
During his time at Safe Haven, he expressed a desire to earn his GED and to grow spiritually. He met Nancy Sales (a 17-year Firehouse Shelter GED/Literacy volunteer) who led him to earn his GED and enroll in college at Tri-State Institute), and Jo Sherer (who led him in weekly Bible Studies at the Shelter and Safe Haven). Eventually, Jerrious joined the church at Beloved Community UCC where he now has a part-time job cleaning the church facilities. He has earned an HVAC certification and is currently taking courses to become an electrician. “Nancy Sales taught me new skills and stayed on me to earn my GED. She is such a sweet lady with a big heart. I have also learned how to become a real Christian man through her,” said Jerrious.
“I had been told I would never own a car, never earn my GED, never go to college and never be able to live on my own. For the past four years, I have done all of these things. I have a part time job, am going to college, am planning to live in my own house one day, have stayed drug free for 4+ years, have been led spiritually to a new home in Christ and a new family at Beloved Community UCC. It brings me to tears every time I think about the caring and loving people I have met at The Firehouse and Beloved Community UCC.”
Jerrious’ story is from The Firehouse Shelter. Visit their profile to learn more.