I am writing this short testimonial about what the North Austin 24 and Project Helping Hands did for me. I came to NA24 on October 26, 2009 not kicking and screaming, but knowing that I needed help and this might be place to show me how. The staff had been talking to me over the phone for the two previous days before my father dropped me off. I had nowhere to go. My family had decided to give the tough love that I needed and to stop enabling me. When I came through the door of NA 24 I had a sense of relief before I even talked to anyone. I got there right before a noon meeting and they told me I needed to go to the meeting before they would talk to me about staying there and that is when I knew my life was about to change.
That day was the start of my journey and the miracles began. I had been in treatment 2 months before and stayed at a sober house down south, but I never felt comfortable in my own skin. Walking into the NA 24 I never felt so safe knowing that people actually talked to me and wanted to help me. My family loves me very much and they have never given up hope, but they did not understand why I could not stop. I stayed in the back for 3 weeks waiting to go to treatment. I continued going to intensive outpatient down south, because that was suggested by the staff and I listened. They gave me the tools to understand what was going in my life; they gave a safe place to stay, food in my belly, and friendships that will last me a lifetime.
My life today is full and complicated sometimes, but I attribute that to growing up. I found my job through NA 24 and I also found a wonderful man that I hope to spend the rest of my life with at NA 24, he also went through project helping hands. I honestly feel my life would not be like it is today if it was not for Project Helping Hands and North Austin 24 club. Thank You
Located on the North Side of Austin, some people might pass by the nondescript building on Prairie Trail without even noticing it. Others who drive by more often might wonder about what goes on there. There always seems to be people around, sometimes many vehicles in front sometimes very few but always something seems to be happening. Music, barbeques, dances and a lot of laughter are frequent occurrences there.
Inside those walls is a fellowship of men and women who share their struggles, fears, hopes, and successes with one another. They are looking for, and finding, a way to escape the cycle of addiction and learn to live life without drugs or alcohol. For many people NAF is their last desperate attempt to survive. To find something beyond the desperation and hopelessness that is their lives. NAF is the very last stop for many. They come here when there is no where else to turn.
At NAF resources are made available. There are beds in the back for people just coming off the streets, waiting to go to treatment facilities or sober living homes. I love these people who have come in and asked for sanctity in this place, a reprieve from the insidious nature of their addictions. Although I do not know their names just yet, I love them anyways. When I ask them to tell me what brought them to a place like this they tell my story. I listen because I was one of these people. I do it because it was done for me. It gives them a chance to unburden themselves to someone who understands. People who’s struggles have been very similar to their own. I have met men whose families could no longer tolerate the self destruction of the alcoholic, young people struggling with heroin, ladies who come from good homes who have lost everything. It reminds me of where I once was; prison, living under bridges, panhandling to feed my disease and at the very end, a death sentence from my doctors.
In continuing to do my service work I see God working in the lives of these people. As the days go by I begin to hear hope in their voices, their steps become lighter and, as their minds become clearer, plans for a future are made with cautious excitement. When they visit after they have been away in treatment and sober a little while I see a different person before me. They come back for more fellowship and love and encouragement. That is what we do here. Give hope. Here there is no judgment, we love them until they can learn to love themselves. We share our experience, strength and hope with them. As they get better they, in turn, help the next one who comes through those doors with nothing left to lose. For we must always give away what was so freely given to us in our first days in sobriety. It reminds us of our primary purpose, “To help the alcoholic who still suffers.” In helping others we stay sober ourselves.
I can’t begin to explain the blessings that I have received from the people in these rooms. Their acceptance, love, encouragement, friendship, compassion and wisdom have been a tremendous part of me being able to maintain my sobriety for more than 6 years. They have taught me how to love. They have cried with me, prayed with me, laughed with me. They have shown me how to be a friend, how to ask for help and how to be helpful. I am not alone anymore. We love without expecting anything in return. The newcomer, always the most important person in the room, is the one that I want to always be ready to do these things for. They give me a reason to continue to stay connected, to do my service work and never forget where I came from. In this place I find God.
For those who might wonder as they drive by what really happens in the nondescript building on Prairie Trail on the North Side of Austin. What truly happens is a miracle everyday. One Day At A Time. Thank you my friends! May God continue to bless you all.
Jennifer C. September 11, 2011