by Dr. Chad Audi
We’ve entered the graduation season — a time filled with hope and dreams for the future. High school seniors are looking forward to attending college in the fall, and college graduates are anticipating landing their first “real” job.
It’s also graduation time here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM). More than 400 of our clients are graduating from a variety of career training, housing, and treatment and counseling programs. We present them with a certificate to recognize that they have taken the next step toward new and improved lives. For many, it’s their first time completing anything successfully and getting something to show for it.
The majority of men and women who come to DRMM were once homeless — living on the streets or staying night after night with various relatives and friends. Many have struggled with addictions, faced joblessness or just given up on life. When they come here, we show them that all is not lost. Their hopes and dreams can come true.
Everyone has dreams. The difference is some people let distractions and disappointments keep them from achieving their goals.
But there comes a time in all of our lives when we realize that we must gather the courage to pursue our dreams. That is a life-changing moment.
The DRMM graduation ceremony represents a major turning point for our clients. The certificate they receive gives them the courage to know their dreams really are attainable. It is a powerful piece of paper.
If you know a graduate — either from an academic institution or from the “school of life” — take a moment to wish them continued success and encourage them to never give up on their dreams. Graduation is not the end; it’s a new beginning.
By Dr. Chad Audi
This summer, I was proud to witness a “New Beginning” for nearly 400 people graduating from the recovery programs at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM). And what a celebration it was! The graduates were formerly homeless, addicted or disadvantaged and had remained drug- and alcohol-free for at least 90 days. Some of the graduates completed DRMM’s transitional housing program or obtained a GED. Our educational partners, such as Wayne County Community College District, helped the graduates gain a variety of skills in areas such as computer hardware and software, culinary arts, residential wiring, customer service, Web and graphic design, video production and landscaping.
A particularly emotional highlight of this year’s ceremony was the presentation of a car to DRMM graduate Stephen Day. Stephen was moved to tears as I presented him with keys to a 1995 Chrysler LeBaron convertible that had been donated to the Rescue Mission. The crowd joined in Stephen’s joy and excitement by rising to their feet in thunderous applause. Stephen received the automobile as a reward for making such a tremendous change in his life.
Let me tell you about Stephen’s amazing story. As a teenager, he was an alcoholic and later a crack cocaine addict. Despite his addictions, he graduated from high school, attended trade schools, and held jobs as a machinist and truck driver. But his life fell apart when began to experience blackouts and DUI arrests. He lost his truck driver job and became homeless. Repeated attempts at sobriety failed until Stephen came to the Detroit Rescue Mission last year. His transformation began with substance abuse treatment at our Christian Guidance Center (CGC). Today, Stephen has completed a year of college, made the dean’s list, and received an invitation to join Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. He works full-time as a resident specialist at a DRMM facility and has paid off outstanding tickets in order to get his driver’s license reinstated. Stephen is pursuing a degree in mental health services.
Isn’t this proof that everyone deserves a New Beginning?
By Dr. Chad Audi
This is the time of year when families everywhere are celebrating graduations. It marks an important time in a person’s life. He or she is ready for the next big step in their academic or professional careers. But there are many other types of milestones that a graduation can commemorate.
Recently, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) celebrated the “life” graduation of 437 clients at its newly-renovated Banquet Hall/Conference Center in Detroit. Some had completed at least 90 days of substance abuse treatment. Others had completed job training and educational classes. Some were moving on from DRMM’s transitional housing programs. And others were happy to have earned their GED. The energy and enthusiasm in the room was unbelievable.
Just like a high school or college graduation, the DRMM graduates had proud family members in attendance to cheer them on. They all received certificates. But unlike a typical graduation where you get a diploma and you already have your next plans made —or perhaps you’re not sure if you’re going into your chosen field of work — this was a graduation where the graduates are regaining their lives and celebrating a rebirth. They are starting out on a new venture in life. And believe me, it hasn’t been easy.
At some point in their lives, many of the people participating in DRMM’s graduation had lost all hope. Some of them had attempted suicide and slept in vacant buildings, under bridges, in cars and on the streets. They were prostitutes, drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals and the impoverished. But after they came to the Detroit Rescue Mission, they received another chance and another outlook on life. Their past didn’t matter; just their future.
The DRMM graduation celebrated “change.” These graduates are getting a fresh start in life. Approximately 80 percent of them now have a full-time job or are going to school. The other 20 percent are on the road to recovery and a new life by remaining clean and sober. Congratulations to all of the DRMM graduates for your accomplishments! We share in your joy.