I really couldn’t tell you where I would be right now if it was not for Harvest House. I don’t know if I would still have my children with me, or if they would be growing up with others. Harvest House has shown me how to accomplish the things I wanted in my life, free of drugs, and to separate myself from the things I had brought into my life that were destroying all that I loved. Harvest House gave me a place to sleep, to eat, and to have people to talk to who understood my challenges and were ready to help me. It changed my life, no doubt about it, and gave me back my self-respect and the respect of my children that had been lost to opioids many years before.
Veteran. Father. Husband. Former Addict.
Although Aaron Gibbs’ military service to our nation ended over two decades ago, he has been waging his own private war ever since. His fight was a daily battle against the curse of opioid drug addiction, and until he found his way to Harvest House just over eight months ago, the drugs were winning.
His life was filled with the casualties of addiction, and as Aaron told me recently, “Drugs stole my ability to dream away from me. I had no future. There was just right then, right now, and nothing more. And as I look back on that time of my life today, there really isn’t anything that addiction doesn’t take from your life. For all those reasons and more, I am so grateful that a few friends I worked with had the courage to suggest Harvest House to me…because they saved my life.”
Harvest House is dedicated to the premise that all people deserve safe, stable housing and the opportunity to renew their hope and dream again. We serve a variety of populations with residential programs for veterans, families and unaccompanied young people who are homeless or have a history of homelessness, substance abuse and incarceration.
Aaron participated in our VETS (Veterans Empowered through Transitional Services) program, which serves adult male veterans who have struggled with substance abuse after their service causing them to experience homelessness. In our approach, housing and treatment is provided to our veterans at no cost.
In fact, Harvest House is the only organization in Sarasota to participate in the development, preservation, and management of affordable, service-enriched housing. This model is becoming the standard for serving families and individuals who are working to rebuild their lives. At Harvest House we believe that affordable housing and supportive programs improve the economic status of residents, revitalize neighborhoods, and stabilize lives.
Aaron Gibbs is but one example of that success.
“Today, I have been free of drugs and clean for over eight months. Thanks to the help I received, I have a great job with a local commercial painting company. Now that I am clean and healthy, my school aged children live with me, and because I have been able to buy a safe car, they can once again participate in after school programs. Because I am there with them,” Aaron told me, “I am able to help them with their homework as any parent should, and that renewed parental presence has made a huge, positive impact in their lives.”
Just as he was about to leave to pick up one of his children, Aaron turned to me and emphatically said, “Harvest House changes lives. I know this, because it changed mine. If you have the desire, it will help you turn your life around. Honestly, I can’t imagine a better way to make a difference than to help a struggling person regain their life again.”
For veterans of our nation’s military who wage their own war against illness, homelessness and despair, Harvest House is a source of hope and inspiration. Hope, knowing that we will fight for them if they have the courage to fight for themselves, and inspiration found in veterans like Aaron, who are winning in their battles against drug addiction, homelessness and despair.
“There is no doubt that without the support of people I will never meet and never be able to thank personally, Harvest House would be hard pressed to help families like mine,” Aaron reminded me. “Without that support, I don’t have any idea what my life would be like today, and for all that have chosen to help, I am truly grateful.”
Because we know that there will always be another worthy veteran who will need our help, I ask you to please choose to stand with us by making a generous, committed gift today. Remember, every dollar in support we receive from you will be matched by the Lee Wetherington Foundation’s $50,000 challenge match. On behalf of all those who will benefit from your support, I thank you.