2016 November Newsletter – Coming Out of the Darkness
Paul just didn’t care anymore. He was out of work for two years, his mother had passed away and his only relief from the pain was at the bottom of a bottle. He was shuttling aimlessly between friends and relatives’ homes, making occasional half-hearted attempts at finding a job.
“I was going downhill very fast,” Paul recalls. “I never had a drug problem in my life, and I’ve never had a drinking problem up until then. I was basically killing myself.”
Paul had given up on himself but, fortunately, his family hadn’t. They staged an intervention.
“My niece works here at the Mission and she suggested to my brothers and sisters this might be a good place for me. They mentioned it to me and agreed I needed to do something.”
When he first arrived at O.U.R. Mission Home two years ago, Paul wasn’t quite sure what to think of the Mission’s faith-based approach.
“I believed in God and had gone to church before, but not all the time. This was every day and every night–a lot of religion being thrown at me. But I decided to stick it out and see how it goes.”
Over time, the message started to sink in and the pain began to subside. Paul accepted Christ and was baptized, and he hasn’t had a drink in nearly two years.
Clean and sober, Paul’s not only ready to go back to work–he’s looking to change careers. At age 62 and no longer able to work construction, he’s receiving computer training with the hope of finding something less physically taxing.
“When I started, I didn’t even know how to turn a computer on. I was afraid to press buttons out of fear it would blow up on me. Now I’m buzzing around like it’s nothing. I went on there the other day and spent three hours just filling out job applications. I’m flooding the market now.”
Ideally, Paul would like to find a job at a home improvement store, where he can combine his construction experience with his new computer skills.
Computers aren’t the only difference Paul is adjusting to as he seeks a new career.
“Being in construction all my life, a job interview is like ‘Are you hiring?’ The answer was either ‘Yes, get your tools’ or ‘No, I have everybody I need’ and that was the end of it. They didn’t care what you were wearing and they didn’t care what you looked like. But it’s not that way now. You’ve got to be able to sell yourself.”
Paul says participating in Toastmasters has improved his communication skills and increased his confidence as he looks for work. He’s one of around 20 Men’s Home disciples who formed their own Toastmasters chapter with help from Orlando Health, and he advanced through several levels of competition in the Table Topics category, which emphasizes impromptu speaking.
“Toastmasters has helped me speak in front of people I don’t know. I have no problem walking into a room of people I am familiar with, but to stand up in front of people I had never met before … I hadn’t done that, and Toastmasters has shown me how to relax. It’s helped my confidence for when I look for jobs.”
When Paul arrived at the Mission, he was told he’d know when he’s ready to move on. He says that time is coming.
“It’s time to get moving again. I want to find a job, save up some money, and find a place to live. I thank God for the Mission. They’ve helped me put my life back together. Now I’m ready to move forward.”