tony cooking lifebuilders

Tony’s LifeBuilders Addiction Recovery Story

“My addiction started in 1987. I grew up in a home with a mom who smoked crack and spent her time at the bars. I guess I just followed in her footsteps and started doing drugs as a teenager, and it just escalated from there. Most of my life I’ve spent homeless, living on the street, selling and doing drugs, and just doing everything wrong. I was messing up my life and messing up every life I encountered too. I honestly felt dead inside. One day while I was living on the street I got robbed at gunpoint. I had never been robbed like that and saw my whole life coming to an end. After the robbing, I realized I didn’t want my life to end that way. I remember asking God to show me what He wanted me to do. Down the line, I saw God answered my prayer.tony cooking outside

One day while I was walking around downtown Jacksonville I saw City Rescue Mission. I truly thought they were just a soup kitchen until one of my friends told me CRM had a recovery program and could help me. I came into the program in May of 2009. I walked into City Rescue Mission at my rock bottom, just hoping God will help me out of this horrible cycle I had been putting myself through for years and years. The change I prayed for I have seen happen thanks to CRM. During my time in the LifeBuilders Recovery Program, the staff taught me about responsibility and how to conduct myself as a good man with integrity. I realized during my time at CRM that a lot of my poor choices came from a feeling of loneliness. Gaining the support system I gained at CRM and also finding a church community has helped me gain a sense of belonging and I don’t feel as isolated anymore. I know I have people I can trust and that truly care about me, and I never have had that before.

I graduated from the LifeBuilders Program in September of 2011. During my time in the program I was able to get my certificate from the Jacksonville Hospitality Institute which opened up a lot of doors for me to work as a cook. I love to cook! I grew up cooking for my little sisters because my mom was usually too drunk. It became a hobby for me and something positive to focus on when things aren’t looking so good. I’m currently working as the Kitchen Supervisor at City Rescue Mission’s New Life Inn Campus. Working at CRM is one of the best things that has ever happened to me because the staff is so supportive and truly wants to keep molding you to be the best you can be. I also enjoy getting to talk to men and women who are sitting where I was not too long ago…encourage them and pray for them. The day I got robbed I may have lost some material things but I gained an understanding that my life had more value to it. I’m a lot happier now that I’m not sleeping on the streets; I bathe more and eat better…it’s the simple things. I feel more freedom in my life now than I did when I was out there on the streets or selling drugs in the park. I’m free from that former life and moving forward with God’s help, one step at a time.”