Since 1992, Harvest House has worked to heal our community of the addiction crisis and end the cycles of generational trauma. This Mother’s Day, make a gift in honor of someone who never gave up on you. The power of your support will offer a chance to find purpose, health, home, and belonging for families like Lily, Bryan, and their four beautiful children.
Through Lily and Bryan’s story, we learn about the effects of childhood trauma, the humanity of addiction, the power of love and forgiveness, and the dire need for second-chance, affordable housing in our community.
Lily and Bryan came from two different worlds, but both know what it’s like to hide an addiction.
Lily was a functioning alcohol and cocaine addict for a decade but is still trying to figure out why she started using. “I had a good, happy life, growing up in Sarasota,” she said. “After 10 years of addiction, I was tired. My family knew something was wrong for a while but couldn’t pinpoint exactly what. I told my sister and two weeks later I was at Harvest House. I really thrived there. I wanted it this time. I got back to loving myself. I got back to having a conscience.”
When Bryan came to us, he was coming off of a binge of meth and alcohol which caused his liver and kidneys to start shutting down. “I was going to die if I was left on my own; I knew I would go right back to using. My first day at Harvest House was rough because I was still hallucinating when I arrived, but the staff empowered me like I never could have imagined.”
Prior to Harvest House, the extent of Bryan’s drug use was well hidden because of his membership in a gang, but he recalls the exact reason that drove him to use.
“It was a way to escape. At a young age, I was molested for 5 years and my dad was both mentally and physically abusive. Using was a way to deal with what was done to me. It’s all so hard to talk about, but since I’ve shared it’s given others the opportunity to start to heal.”
Bryan was facing ten years in prison when he arrived. His four children were living with various relatives because their mother was also struggling with addiction. The clearer that Bryan’s mind became, the more it was filled with thoughts of his children.
It is estimated that 25% of children in America grow up in households where substance abuse is present. These children are at a higher risk of experiencing verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, which is often the reason they turn to substances as an adult. They are also likely to experience poor performance in school, behavioral issues, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.
Everyone’s path to recovery is different, however, Harvest House focuses on four main pillars – purpose, health, home, and belonging. When a client engages in this holistic approach, we know the likelihood of relapsing decreases significantly. Bryan says he spends his time reading, working hard, and volunteering at the Harvest Food Pantry. He recently earned a promotion at his job, placing him on the management team. Through tears, Bryan explained, “I really shouldn’t be alive. I should have overdosed and died.”
Lily and Bryan are engaged and now have full custody of their children. Even though Lily is not their biological mother, she loves them just the same. “The kids came with no clothes or belongings. We both work two jobs to give them everything they need, but we couldn’t do that without reasonable rent. When we were ready to move out of Harvest House, no one would rent to us because of Bryan’s history. Once, a prospective landlord told us in front of our kids, ‘I would be embarrassed to house you with his background.’ It was so heartbreaking.”
Finally, Bryan and Lily found their perfect 4-bedroom home. “The landlord didn’t care about our history. He saw us for who we are today. We knew that we would be the best tenants.”
Both Bryan and Lily pinpoint forgiveness as one key to freedom in their recovery. Lily had to forgive herself. She says, “the best thing about being completely sober is that I have nothing to hide now. I was so ashamed.” For Bryan, it was about forgiving others. “There’s a lot of shame tied to abuse. At Harvest House, I was able to start forgiving those who hurt me. I am now transforming my sorrow so I don’t pass it on to my kids. Harvest House never gave up on me, and I will never give up on my kids.”
This Mother’s Day, give the gift of a second chance in honor of someone who never gave up on you. Because of your support, the cycle of generational trauma stops now.