Not all broken roads come from rocky starts. Nick comes from a beautiful family and experienced a childhood lacking very little. He recalls quite fondly the love and security he felt as a child. It wasn’t until his teen years that he began looking to bad influences for a mold to build his identity around. As involved as his parents were in trying to redirect and encourage him to make better choices, Nick found himself choosing life with his buddies. A life laying on the streets over the comforts of his own bed in a loving environment. A life with role models living up to a Scarface persona in an era where having a street hustle was a measurement of manhood. Nick found himself fitting in well on the streets and making friends easily. Though maybe not with the right connections, his likeable personality made it easy to find jobs. He did however find it was difficult to keep legitimate employment due to his drug use. It was in his teen years that he first began playing around with marijuana. “It started out as a joke”, he sighed, recalling how quickly it led to so many other very serious addictions and realities.
Nick very soberly admits, “the choices I made were mine, nobody else chose for me.” He recalled, “I thought that I had to act a certain way to be the person I thought I wanted to be….I didn’t know what truth was”.
When he was 26 he decided to take his chances with a brick wall going 105 mph, assuming he would lose the battle. Something or someone must have known “his story would be his strength” all these years later. Though it took him to his mid 40s, as he states, “to be sick and tired of being sick and tired”, Nick has turned the years of bad choices and repeated broken cycles into a true testament of what can happen when you grasp hold of the true identity you have in Christ.
At 51 when he was diagnosed with throat cancer, he didn’t realize everything that was still in store for him. Losing the ability to speak was never where he would have imagined himself.
But, it wasn’t until just a couple years ago, when a simple request from one of his physicians changed everything. His doctor asked if he’d like to pray with him and though nothing about Nick’s outer circumstances changed something inside him has forever been changed. “It woke me up to everything and how blessed I really was”, he said. A short six months after he was presented with an opportunity to undergo a special procedure that could give him a chance to speak again. As he jokingly shared, “and I haven’t shut up since.”
Today, Nick works in the parts warehouse at the Dignity Center. He recalls that since the day he came in and Mrs. Sandy prayed with him, “My day starts and ends with a prayer.” Coming up on 2 years of sobriety, he remains grateful for, “being given lots of chances” and the ability to learn things along the way. “It’s not easy, but I’m blessed. I get to share life with my mother”, he said with gratitude in his voice. “Walking in these doors was a miracle”, he recalled. There is support around him and opportunity to work and help support others in his life. He boasts about being able to have a bank account and having the ability to help his mother. Recently he lost his brother, but even through that loss he found comfort in being able to be there for his mom like she always was for him. He planted a tree in her front yard as a memory to his brother.
“I can’t complain, I have my own place, vehicle, best friends and this community,” he stated humbly but with confidence, “I just can’t believe where I am today.” When asked why he stays at Wear Gloves, “This place is amazing…they’ll give you a chance. I haven’t had a single limitation based on my medical condition. Not everyone was willing to give me a chance you know, like I’ve been around a while and don’t know any places like this.” Thoughtfully he stated, “The church services are just icing on the cake. They broke the mold with Mr. Ken too.”
If you ever visit Wear Gloves and have the opportunity, go meet Nick. His story truly is his strength, and meeting him will revive your hope in second chances and God’s ability to meet you where you are.
However, just remember that if its lunchtime, you’ll find him at the table not the warehouse. Nick is quick to admit he’s at his best when he’s fed. If only all of us would come to the table with as much honesty and openness as Nick, we may all find ourselves a little closer to our best.