“Hey! Do you remember me?”
I had to look twice. I had to think a minute. When he said his name, the light finally went on. I hadn’t seen Chad (not his real name) in many years. I met him when the Fort Collins Running Club got together a few people to join some men from Harvest Farm as they trained for their first marathon. The Farm provides men getting out from under alcohol and drug addiction with a long-term comprehensive program-- everything from hard physical labor, counseling and education to assist them in changing their lives. It has a strong spiritual component. Non-denominational. Christian. Attendance at any church of their choice is required on Sunday mornings.
Chad and I struck up a friendship during our runs and stayed in on-line contact for quite a while. “How’s it going?” I asked.
“Okay,” he replied with a smile designed to put a positive spin on things. “I’m still living with my mom. We read the Bible every morning.”
“Working?” I asked. “Yep. I have a job with a construction outfit.”
He was riding a nice yellow “urban” bike, looking clean and well-groomed. “On my way to see my daughter.”
“How old is she?”
“Seventeen. We’re close.”
Chad has a nineteen-year-old son, too. For most of their lives, he hasn’t been around much. He was riding a bike because right now, he has no license and is dealing with a DUI. “The cops know me,” he explained. “I can’t get away with much.”
Meeting up with Chad was a coincidence for me, because one day last week, I paid a visit to Harvest Farm to do a story for the orth Forty News. I was there for their daily devotions service. The men were welcoming, friendly and obviously committed to making some difficult changes in their lives. A typical stay in the program is just over a year, but some stay as long as two years.
It came home to me, after meeting up with Chad, how true it is that the struggle with addiction never ends. People with that tendency must confront it every day of their lives. Programs help, especially one like Harvest Farm that provides such a positive, rural environment and a time frame long enough to promote real change.
But when it comes to confronting the struggle, it’s every man for himself. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think it gets much easier with time.
PS. When I asked a staff member about a place like Harvest Farm for women, she replied. “There isn’t one and there’s a great need.”