“The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion”. – Proverbs 28:1
This is the verse that set Melissa on course to defeating a 15-year battle with addiction. After years of losing, it was a timely message from her daughter that cleared the fog just long enough for her to realize she had to break the cycle. This time would be different. This time “I was doing it for myself”.
Melissa is one of the team members on liter crew here at Wear Gloves. Monday through Wednesday, she helps clean up the city parks here in Ocala. On Thursdays, she can also be found picking up a shift in the warehouse working the Closetmaid orders. As she shared her journey with me and how it led her to the Dignity Center, I couldn’t help but feel the pride of her 6-month sobriety and the gratitude she has for the resources found here. “They saved my life. They really did.”, as she continued through teary eyes, “I wish more people knew this was here”.
Melissa recognized that though she fights her addiction every day, and has a great support system in her family, the structure and support she receives from Wear Gloves is vital for a recovering addict. “Every addict is just one bad day away from using again”, Melissa said with a sense of realism.
She continued to share, with a humble excitement, all of her successes over the last 6 1/2 months. She’s been able to get her driver’s license reinstated, begin mending the relationship with her children, see her grandchild and most recently, buy a car. “They helped me get my life back. They supported me. They are helping me maintain what I couldn’t do by myself.” Melissa openly discussed how her biggest struggle is within herself. However, she was nothing but optimistic about her future and the new foundation she’s building with the help of her extended family here at Wear Gloves.
Though we spent the majority of our time reflecting on the highs and lows of the path which led her to the present day, there was an undeniable plea resonating for more people to know about this place. At one point, we stopped the conversation so I could clarify the “who”. Who needs to know about this place? She responded, “people like me”, quickly followed by “anywhere with rehab or places where people are coming out of jail”. In Melissa’s experience, there aren’t many resources like Wear Gloves out there. Places that will help NOW. Places that won’t judge you for your past, but will look you in the eyes and see the you that is here NOW, ready to change, ready to work.
She told me about the day she came in to fill out her application and the relief there was in not seeing the typical questions about her past. Meeting with Mrs. Sandy, who does all the intake interviews for the Dignity Center, the dread was lifted when she realized her only requirement was a willingness to work and a goal. Obviously, the past is still there, but it didn’t disqualify her before she even had an opportunity. “I was ready, and I needed it, and if more people knew this opportunity was here and that you were able to actually do it without someone handing you cash, that’s what people like me need to know.”
It is within her to handle the responsibility. I could tell from our talk she has great strength. “I have the will to maintain my sobriety, but they are making sure of that by not handing me cash”. She’s confident she’s on her way there, but for now, it’s the support she needs.
We ended our conversation with all smiles and a walk to see her new car and meet Mrs. Sandy. Melissa isn’t fleeing any longer. She’s showing up every day. Working. Growing. Getting stronger and becoming bold like a lion.