Meet us Monday: Saint, Graduate
Meet Saint one of our graduates from the REAL LIFE Program, which he completed in side of the Richmond City Justice Center (jail), when REAL LIFE was housed there (2014-2017). He is a 57 year-old cook, musician and writer of songs. On August 5th, he celebrated his 8th year of sobriety. Saint spent the first 14 years of his life in Port Byron, a small town in upstate New York, on 11 acres of land with his parents and 4 siblings. At the age of 14, Saint’s parents temporarily separated and his mother moved him and his baby sister to South Florida to live with her family.
Once Saint’s parents were reunited they moved into a neighborhood in Riviera Beach, Florida, an area that was well known for drugs and criminal activity. Saint begin using marijuana and alcohol on a regular basis at the age 14; he had tried alcohol at 6 years old and Marijuana at 11. Once he turned 14, he was able to purchase it himself though. All of this happened during the beginning of the crack epidemic which Saint himself would soon fall victim to.
His neighborhood went from semi-normal to total chaos. To escape his drug addiction Saint joined the Marine Corp and was released in 1988, the same year he married his wife. They had 5 beautiful children, but Saint continued his struggle with his demons, which eventually caused their separation and divorce in 2014.
Saint’s first incarceration was in 1996. When he was released, his father passed away, which caused him to go even deeper into his addiction. Once again, after moving his family from North Carolina back to Florida, Saint got clean at the end of 1997 and stayed clean until 2004 when went on a ten year using binge.
Saint said when he was arrested on August 5th, 2014, it rescued him. At that point he had seven outstanding warrants from four different jurisdictions and three different states. During the 14 months he was incarcerated he completed three different drug programs, Anger Management courses, and an Open Mind course, all offered through REAL LIFE in the jail. All this began after his spiritual awakening when he was led by GOD to read Psalms 51:1-17.
While incarcerated, Saint had time to read his Bible and reflect on his past life. He did a lot of soul searching and turned to God. He started REAL LIFE, which, in his words, was “mind blowing” and “the best program he had participated in.” It really touched him and helped him learn to live a normal and an addiction free life. He was in a cell by himself with only a few hours out a day. His cell became his sanctuary. Also, he started writing songs about forgiveness and not being an addict.
Saint’s life began to change in the right direction, which he continues to this very day. He now has a relationship with his ex-wife, children and grand-children. His favorite saying is “I may not be perfect, but I’m walking in a perfect plan.” He has not struggled much this time to stay clean. He wants to continue to work on his music to use as a platform to reach people in addiction.
His advice to others is to keep moving forward no matter what happens in your life. Complete the REAL LIFE Program, keep a routine and structure, save money on a regular basis and have a passion. Give back to others.
Congratulations, Saint! We are so proud of you!