Mike Morris at Aletheia House’s Veteran training facility.
Mike is originally from New York and is an outreach recruiter for a Veteran training and counseling program at Aletheia House, a drug and alcohol recovery and transitional housing organization in Birmingham, Al. He is a husband, father and is himself recovering from earlier years of sobriety and relapse.
January 24, 2004 Mike went into a half way house program at the Firehouse Shelter. When he got there he knew he was in real trouble. He has not used drugs or alcohol since, but it was not easy.
The reality of years of substance abuse, death of a brother with AIDS and even the Twin Towers falling started to set in. He began to look back over his lifetime of using, getting clean and continually relapsing and saw a pattern. His main problem was that he always arrogantly thought he was in control. Realizing that he was addicted and needed more than just abstinence, Mike began to read, pray and finally understood that he could not solve his problems by himself. With help and working to help others, he was able to break free of the bondage of ego and self importance. Mike explained, ”Service to others gives me a lot of Hope because it reminds me of where I was and that somebody was there for me. Now I’m that somebody. God is using me to help others because no one can solve their addiction problems alone. Now I am not using, I’m being used!”
Mike and I talked about the Hope and Change phrases in the original Obama presidential campaign. He says before recovery it was “me, me, my, my, I, I … it was my way”. His “change” came when he realized that if he didn’t alter his “stink’n think’n”, he was going to die. After going through the rehabilitation program at The Aletheia House, he finally got a job at a Subway. He moved up quickly to Manager, but he relays a story that he often tells about a real test of truth and honesty in the first few weeks working there.
He says “I was always a thief. That’s what I did, I stole. But during my first few weeks, a man with coke bottle glasses came into the store to buy a couple of cookies and gave me two $100 bills. The customers and co-workers saw this and were all looking at me like…what are you gonna do? So I told the man he had the wrong bills and that he just needed $2. When the man left the store everyone was saying, I would have never done that! I said well you’re not me and I am working on honesty today. I left the store that day with such a good feeling that there was Hope for me, and that I could change. That one small experience showed me that I could find integrity when I looked another person in the eye and saw myself as honest, happy and proud. I felt something inside of me that was like a conversion. I felt God. He was watching me and I thanked him for that change in me.”
Hope and Change? Hope creates change? It doesn’t matter whether it is a slogan or a process, it has worked for Mike. And I believe it will continue to work for him and those around him. Just look at the smile on the face of his daughter Myla in the photo on his phone.
Thanks for the inspiration Mike!