“Devon” and “Rodney” are residents of MHA’s GRIT Ridgewood group home who are working on a project together. Behind Ridgewood there’s a concrete sidewalk. Using special paint donated by Allied Paints, Devon and Rodney are painting the sidewalk as the “Road to Recovery.” What a wonderful metaphor for their journey! Each of these young men is on their own road to recovery and they are making steady progress ahead.

Devon, 23, came to Ridgewood last December 18. His prior life was nothing short of tragic. His father, who Devon considered his best friend, was sleeping next to him when he died of a heroin overdose. “I shook him to wake up and he didn’t wake up,” Devon recalled. “He passed away. I was really damaged.” Devon was 12½. At 13, he left home to escape an abusive mother and picked up his first drug: heroin. “I started living life as a heroin addict. I just know how to live my life behind bars or on the street, but I want to thank all of y’all for opening this door to me to change my life. Never had somebody give me this opportunity. I’m zero drugs. I’m ready to change my life around.”

Early in his time at Ridgewood, Devon had a couple setbacks, but he acknowledged and confronted his mistakes. He’s been “clean and serene” for three months and is making great progress in early recovery. Now he has a plan: work through his court cases and form a family with his daughter and her mother. The mother is a huge support for Devon, calling him out when he needs to make better choices. He understands that being stable in recovery is the foundation of his plan to be there for his daughter.

Rodney, 29, has no family and has been in and out of programs most of his life. He came to Ridgewood March 3. Because he was used to doing things for himself, being in a program with structure and high personal expectations didn’t work at first, but he began to understand what GRIT requires of him and why it matters. Recently he applied to move from Stage 1 to Stage 2. When we told him his application for Stage 2 had been accepted, he was overcome with emotion.

Rodney applied for a 6-week vocational program through MassHire and learned how write a resume and cover letter, how to interview…and he LOVED it! “I didn’t even know what a cover letter was!” he said. Rodney feels proud of himself for finishing it. Now Rodney has applied for MassHire’s Hospitality track. He thinks restaurants and hotels are a better fit for him than the factory work he did before. He wants work to feel more like giving back, where he can see for himself how he is helping someone else.

Rodney just received his blue key tag, which signifies being “clean and serene” for six months. It’s the longest period he’s been drug-free since he started using at 16 years old and he’s committed to staying clean. Some people carry just their most recent key tag, others carry every one they’ve earned. Young people often put their tag on their shoe. Having it out in the open encourages other people to ask questions, and talking takes some of that stigma away.

With your financial support and guidance from the staff at Ridgewood, Devon and Rodney are making progress, step by step, on their individual roads to recovery – and for that, we are all very grateful!

Thank you!

To learn more about Ridgewood, or any MHA program, please reach out to Kim Lee at klee@mhainc.org