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  • Writer's picturelilmyacofield

Recovery Hero's

Editor’s Note: Carlsbad Local News ran a story in September about the Carlsbad Community of Hope Center, and one on the Carlsbad Transitional Housing and Homeless Shelter in our last issue. During this month of Thanksgiving, we’d like to share the testimony of gratitude from a former resident of each of those facilities. Robert Luna-Carlsbad Community of Hope Center I’m 33 years old. I was living in Albuquerque and I ended up homeless due to extreme alcoholism. I got a job with a company that sent me out here to Carlsbad. But when I got here there was no one at the Greyhound drop-off to pick me up, so I gave the company a call and come to find out they had dropped the contract for concrete work and there was no more job for me. I asked if they would bring me back to Albuquerque and they said no, and then hung up the phone on me. I was walking the streets and I ended up at the library. A piece of paper hit my feet and it literally said ‘Hope’, and it had a phone number on it. For some reason I was compelled to call that phone number. I called Miss Pat, who is one of the owners of Carlsbad Community of Hope, and she told me to come on down and get something to eat. I went down there, filled out the paperwork and read all the rules that they had, and in a couple of hours she said, “Ok, let’s get you settled in. ”They took me to a little house they had out back and I settled in. This was January 12th, a Friday. She told me to take it easy on the weekend, and on Monday I had to go look for work. They helped me get clothes because I had just the bare clothes on my back and a pair of boots, my wallet, a jacket, and a cell phone. That was it. The night before I came down here, I was robbed in Albuquerque. So I made it down here with nothing –starving and everything –and they helped me out. The following Monday, the first place I stopped at was La Tienda Thriftway to look for work. Within 15 minutes of filling in the application and a quick interview, my boss Linda had me working right then and there. At the Center they save 80% of your money from your paycheck. And when you’re ready to leave, they give you all the money that they saved for you right there so that you have money to get groceries, money to get you a car, a truck, a motorcycle... whatever you need. They took me to church with them. They have two Bible studies at the Center every day, and they take you to church on Sunday. Once you get a job, you don’t have to go to church, but I went to church anyway every Sunday afternoon after work. When I came to Carlsbad, I was an active Satanist. After going to church and everything, I started seeing a difference. My life just kept getting better and better, until one day they were saving people -baptizing, you know? I’d barely gotten off work and they asked me, ‘Would you like to be saved?’ Without second guessing and no hesitation, I emptied my pockets, still dressed in my full work uniform, tennis shoes and everything, and I jumped on in. And that was the day I accepted Christ as my Savior. Through my time staying at the Center I cooked, I cleaned, I helped work the big, beautiful sign they have out there. I helped dig a ditch so we could have running water at the side of the building so we could grow some grass and a garden. Every once in a while, it would hit me: ‘Dude, you’re in a homeless shelter!’ And then I’d realize, ‘I’m home, I’m home! I’m in my home!’ The Hope Center is a homeless center and a sober living facility, too. The husband and wife that run it –it's run solely on donations and money out of their own pocket. They do take people off the streets. When the winter hits, they have an emergency shelter so people can get in out of the elements. Because of them, I’ve met so many people. If you’re an addict of any kind of drugs, from prescription pills to hard narcotics to even alcohol. They do absolutely view alcohol as a drug, and they’ll help you detox off it; they’ll help you get clean, stay clean, and live a better, healthier, happier life. That’s the shelter that helped me out. They took me in when I had nothin’ and they’ll still help me when I have nothin’. There was an event they did require us to go to. They have it every year –it's called the Men of Iron Conference in Ruidoso. On our way out there on the outskirts of town everybody pulled over on the side of the road to take a quick stretch and that‘s when we realized it had been canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19. We said, “You know what? We’ll hold our own. ”So a bunch of us got together with the local groups and local churches and we held our own Men of Iron Conference. I went down there with a handful of men I didn’t know and I came back with at least 8-900 brothers that I see every day –to this day -and it’s been months. They call me up and I call them up. I haven’t lived at the Center for four to five months now, but I still go over there and visit and say hi to them because the family that denounced me because I renounced their Satanic faith -God has given me an even stronger family. At La Tienda we do a deal. On the weekends they have old bread that they don’t want to sell and I’ll go ahead and throw it in a cart and I’ll donate it to them at the Center. When I got my two-bedroom, two-bath trailer, it was like, “This is my new home.” My friend Johnny helped me furnish the majority of it, and other friends pitched in stuff. My neighbor gave me a TV. And it was like, “This is my new home.” It’s a really good price, too, and I’m here by myself. Hopefully one day I’ll find love again. I plan to stay here in Carlsbad and to keep a positive spirit and a positive attitude about the world and about life. This little town has done so many wonders for me; it’s amazing. I love this little town. I ride a bike everywhere. I love riding my bike and being able to say, ‘Oh, there’s a pond, there’s a lake, there’s a little beach’. And I’m just riding my bike, enjoying everything. I’m here in Carlsbad and I have no blood relatives out here. I’m perfectly happy. I haven’t been this happy in years –I’m talking almost 10 years. I had a little girl come to the Center and she wanted me to fix her bike. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have. I was like, “Nope, don’t even bother me with it.” Now someone comes up to me and says, “Hey, can you help me with this?” I say, “Sure.” Because of them I went from being a very hateful, angry, psycho person to now... I'm just happy. They helped me out –like -a lot! More than you could imagine. Ronnie Pumlee: Story from a “graduate” of CTHHS“I was struggling with drugs and I was living on the street. I had lost my children due to drug use and I became homeless, living underneath a bridge. I’ve been to other shelters and I just ended up leaving them. But I got tired of that lifestyle –you know, being on the street, and I missed my children. I went to the Hope Center. It was going good. I kept hearing about God, so I ended up giving my life to God –I started following the Lord over there. But I ended up leaving and I relapsed. So I went back around my kids’ mom and her family. They were all intoxicated and on drugs, and her uncle came up behind me and beat me on the head with a baseball bat. I thought I was going to die that night. The next day I went to CYFD to see my kids and Susan Siepel, the teacher in my parenting class, told me about the shelter. They had an opening and I was ready to get my life together. I was getting tired of the lifestyle of being on the street and I missed my children. I knew in my heart that I could get them back, so I went there and that night I ended up going to the hospital –an ambulance came and picked me up. They tested me and I had a low grade of THC in my system, so they gave me a week to get clean and then they tested me again. I was clean, and I got me a house. They gave me a couple of weeks to get a job. I ended up getting a job at La Tienda and I just started saving up. I stayed there for about a month. I always had the application for the Transitional Housing, but I’d never filled it out. But I just felt that I needed to fill it out, so I did. And I got me a house. And that was amazing to me because it helped me learn so much. They helped me learn how to be independent. They checked up on me, they gave me random drug tests. I started paying rent –a certain amount so I could learn how to save money. They showed me how I could open up a bank account, like a checking account. The people that run it, they’re just so amazing. I was so blessed to be able to stay there. When I started getting custody of my kids, they gave me a mentor. Susan would come and help me get them to school, get them set up and everything. She helped me do my own parenting things at the house. So while I was trying to get custody of them, Susan would come over on certain days and she would do parenting classes at the house to get me prepared. I lived in the house for maybe 5 or 6 months. I moved to Louisiana because I got custody of my kids but the caseworkers were hearing stuff like Wendy was going to look for the baby’s mom so the judge said if I wanted the kids I would have to leave town. So my parents came and got me and Ms. Johnnie and Susan helped me pack up. I’m successful now. I have a great job. I have my four kids. I’m a happy father; I love my life. The Lord is wonderful –God is good all the time. Life is amazing. I don’t have no temptation –I don’t have the urge to use anymore. I know that for the rest of my life I will serve the Lord and I will raise my children up so they don’t have to walk in the same way that I did. We almost live at church; we’re up there almost every day of the week. Ever since I made that choice and went through Transitional Housing -I didn’t know none of that stuff. I’m 32 years old and being the age I was when I decided to change, I didn’t know anything. Being a year, a year and a half around Transitional Housing has changed everything. They will teach you everything you need to know. Ever since I made that choice to move into that house and be around Johnnie and Susan, they like changed my life just by the way they were and the way they treated me. They’re really amazing people. I miss them a lot. They’re really amazing. They will do their best with whatever you need help with to get you ready to be out on your own, to get custody of your children... They will help you. No matter what it is, they will help you. I’ve been in Dallas -I’ve been to shelters everywhere. If you want to truly get your life started and get on the right track, Transitional Housing is where to start –it really is.”

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