Richard is described as “the man with the best laugh you’ve ever heard.” His deep, soothing voice warms the room as he describes his journey of becoming, and loving, who he is today.
Richard, 49, has been sober since he came to Homeward Bound in March 2017. He was a man who believed that he didn’t deserve to be loved. For decades, he’d slept on a cardboard box in the splintering Texas heat, in the company of flies in the day and mosquitoes at night, with only one purpose: to get high. His first day at Homeward Bound, he sat on the floor next to the trash can because he felt that was where he belonged.
His first day at Homeward Bound, he sat on the floor next to the trash can because he felt that was where he belonged.
He first came to Homeward Bound for food, shelter and safety. He didn’t want to change. Every day he needled his counselor, asking: “Dude, why don’t you help me?” until one day the counselor responded, “Why would I help someone who doesn’t want my help?” Richard wasn’t expecting that question. Strangely, miraculously even, it got through to him. The next day he started one of Homeward Bound’s 12-step programs and enlisted a sponsor to help him.
It wasn’t easy. All he really wanted was to leave and get high. Instead, he sat in one particular chair each day, holding tightly to the arms, looking out the window. One day gazing toward Methodist Hospital, it seemed as if a bright golden line formed in front of his eyes, with a star on top. He didn’t think much of it at first. But the next few days, he sat in the same chair, looking in the same direction for the golden line and star. They didn’t appear.
Richard began to think God had sent him a vision with a message attached. The message was, “Be still my son.” And so he stayed still in that chair, day after day, letting himself be loved by Homeward Bound. That was the first step toward learning to love himself.
...he stayed still in that chair, day after day, letting himself be loved by Homeward Bound.
Richard began to believe God had a purpose for him. He knew who he had been: a homeless, black, gay, HIV-positive, ex-con with an addiction. He was exactly what society said he would be: just a statistic. But at Homeward Bound, he was more than a number. Homeward Bound saw him as a person of value, believed he had potential, and assured him that he could be more than how society saw him.
Today Richard, once a taker, is a man who gives. He’s a bright student on his way to becoming a licensed chemical dependency counselor. He proved to himself and others that he is not a statistic. He’s a devoted son, a proud dog dad, and a man serving others, encompassing joy, love and gratitude.