My name is Jerry. I arrived at The Salvation Army drug and alcohol program on February 29th, 2011 because I’d come to the end of the road.

Life wasn’t happy anymore. I had no joy. I wasn’t accomplishing anything. I was drowning in self-pity and ‘not having.’ I was suffering.

Being the addict I was, I never shared my pain with anyone. So I began to talk to God in my addiction. I explained how I was feeling, where I was at, how I was sick and tired and didn’t want to go through what I was taking myself through.

I decided one day that I need help. I needed to change my life. I wasn’t getting anywhere and I was tired of being in handcuffs, going in and out of jail. It was a vicious cycle and revolving door.

So one night I decided to give The Salvation Army a try. I walked down there and they accepted me.

I sat down outside and cried because I finally had some hope and a chance to regain what I’d lost.

Without them allowing me into this program I’d be sitting somewhere in prison, suffering like so many who don’t think they have a problem.

At one time I didn’t think I had a problem.

I came in like most people that you hear about, fighting, kicking, and being rebellious. This is not the ‘dream’ program you thought it was; it’s not a resort. I fought the program for about the first 45 days.

Then I heard a young man say one day, ‘if nothing changes, nothing changes.’ For me, that was my spiritual awakening because I realized that I needed to change me — my inner actions and my thoughts.

I can honestly say that when I stopped fighting, when I saw that I’d be the same person if I didn’t change me, I threw my hands up and surrendered.

My surrender was to my higher power, something greater than me, God. I needed to be restored to sanity so I put the 12 steps into action.

I felt a sense of relief, a joy. I was a new me and I liked the new me.


The Salvation Army personnel showed me what love is. They told me to stick around, ‘stay until we finish loving you and you can love yourself.’

I began to receive and allowed people to embrace me. I set my mind on change.

Somewhere through this program — at work, in the kitchen, I don’t know where — I had a change of mind.

My ultimate goal was to come here, get clean and go out still being me.

But my eyes were opened to what The Salvation Army really does for people. They give you a solution and a hope that if you change and do what the program asks you to do, your life will get a lot easier.

I jumped in with both feet. I figured that I’d tried everything else, I might as well try this.

I decided that for this organization to be world-wide, God must be in it. So I attended the classes and became a soldier [a church member]. I didn’t stop there because I felt a sense of purpose and I was hungry to give back.

The Salvation Army extended a hand to me and pulled me up. So I took a community care ministry course and was appointed to volunteer in the ministry that visits the veteran’s hospital. I felt that I’d found my purpose in life. It brought joy to see a smile on another’s face.

God met me right where I was. He didn’t change my past, He gave me a new beginning.


Now, I’m the production supervisor in the warehouse. At first, I was an assistant manager but I started as a volunteer.

My job is to make sure everything we get from our donors is treated with special care. The donations we get helps pay for the program and puts a smile on someone’s face when they buy it in the store.

Nothing is more exciting than putting a donation out in our store that brings joy to someone in need. But everything we get in donation benefits the men and women in this program: another meal, another bed, and everything they need for a transformation in their own life.

The Salvation Army makes the men and women comfortable so they can focus on what they need to do to live a changed life.

The reason why I love coming to work is that I get to encourage the men and women in the program. I show them the joy of giving back what was so freely offered to me.

I love speaking solutions into other’s lives. I can offer them an easier path. I tell them to stick around and wait for the miracle to happen.

In order for me to speak a solution, I have to walk it.

I have to come in joy.”

~ All the photos in this story were taken by John Docter. ~

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Everything you donate to or buy from a Salvation Army Family store helps men and women just like Jerry get no-fee drug and alcohol rehabilitaiton in a structured group setting that focuses on helping them become the individual God created them to be.

If you’d like to find one of our Adult Rehabilitation Centers near you, visit our website and plug in your zip code —

Or, if you’d like to make a life-changing gift of gently-used clothing, household appliances and furniture, find a drop off site or schedule a pick up here:

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