Guest Written by Lesa Ford
There are four words to describe what the Russ Buss did for me. They believed in me. They believed in me before I believed in myself. They loved me, genuinely loved me, until I could love myself.
I originally met Fred during my fourth stint in rehab. I met him at The Journey. He encouraged me and made me feel like there was hope and that people cared. There was a short period that I returned to using drugs and alcohol because I didn’t know how to live. I very quickly became homeless. It was awful and I was hopeless. I bathed in the river just to have a place to bathe. I didn’t have food to eat or clean clothes. I was given the gift of desperation which led me to the decision to check myself into rehab for the fifth time. There was a waiting period to get in. This is when I decided to call Fred and the Russ Buss.
I told Fred I needed clothes, bedding and hygiene products for rehab. Fred had seen me fail before, he had every reason not to help me but he did. He met me 40 minutes later. I got a coat. Not a raggedy old coat but a nice white coat. That’s what I remember the most because it was cold. I didn’t feel judged that day. I was barely 100 pounds and looked awful, but they helped me, they cared for me, and that made me want to succeed. I didn’t want to let them down.
I got to rehab on Feb 26, 2014, which is still my clean date. I was scared and absolutely alone. We got to go to church on Saturday nights at The Journey and Fred told me he would be there. Every week he checked on me and guided me. It was my first real connection with society. I got involved in support groups but I had to reconnect with society and learn how to live. I had to change everything about myself. They say they did so little for me but the truth is Fred met with me weekly, he introduced me to people at church and helped me get connected. Everyone had family at their graduation. I didn’t have any family that wanted to be there so I invited Fred to come be my support. He came and that day he told me I could do this and told me how serious it was. They made sure I had a phone and got me two pairs of jeans and two shirts so I would have something to wear to get job applications. They helped guide me to make the right decisions, good decisions, and told me to respect myself. I was a lost soul. For two years, now, these people have been there for me. They made me feel normal. They spoke hope and life into me. I finally had friends who obeyed the law. I learned from watching them. Everything in this process has been new to me. I needed a law abiding productive member of society to show me the way, and I have followed their direction. God has blessed me with so many good people, but Fred was the very first person there for me. They are still guiding me.
I got my first home last year and I got to wake up with my kids on Christmas Day. Each victory I share with the Russ Buss. Each setback they encourage me. I had nothing two years ago. I couldn’t even look in the mirror at myself. This has taught me to be humble and grateful, not proud. An unashamed voice speaks hope. When you come from nothing you learn to appreciate things, you learn the glory goes to God and to always help people. If Fred and The Russ Buss had not been there for me I am guessing I would be in prison or in the ground. I finally get to wake up each morning knowing I have somebody that has my back 100 percent. That changed my world and changed my heart.
Today I have a wonderful relationship with my mother, and I get to spend every other weekend with my children. I thought I was really something the day Fred was at my coming out. The reality is I was still a mess. I have grown into a lady. Hitting bottom was the best thing that ever happened to me because I was so low I had no where to look but up. That’s when I saw hope and I ran for it. My prayer is that I never stop running for it.
Guest Written by Lesa Ford