With healthy doses of exercise, caring volunteers who teach a variety of classes, a supportive area command and three corps at which to attend Sunday services, the Baltimore, Md., Adult Rehabilitation Center offers its beneficiaries a wealth of reasons to stay sober – and a myriad of opportunities to experience the love of Christ. The beneficiary’s typical day begins with breakfast at 6 a.m. and devotions led by Major Jim Edmonds, administrator, at 7 a.m. Work assignments – part of the foundation of all ARCs –begin at 7:30 a.m. and the workday ends at 4 p.m. with dinner shortly after.
One of the center’s backbones, according to Majors Jim and Aminta Edmonds, is its program offering. After dinner, beneficiaries have the opportunity to participate in several classes offered, as well as exercise and music. In addition to life skills courses such as anger management, courses include a certified GED program, Celebrate Recovery, spiritual classes and individual counseling. Friday nights are game nights with billiards, board games and table tennis. Beneficiaries can also choose to participate in one of the sporting leagues – in the winter the ARC participates in a regional basketball league with the Northern Virginia ARC and Washington Harbor Light, and in the spring they participate in a softball league. “It gets them out, gives them encouragement and strength,” said Major Jim Edmonds. “The busier they are, the more successful we’ve found them to be.” All beneficiaries are introduced to the Baltimore ARC music program during their 30-day intake period. If they choose to, they can continue in the music programs offered: the Redeemed Chorus, about 30 men strong, and the praise band – which Major Aminta Edmonds started. Not only do they get the chance to serve through music, but beneficiaries can also – in partnership with Baltimore Area Command – serve a section of the city where homeless populations are high through the FeedMore initiative. (See related story.)
The alumni program is a big part of the center, too. Some of the alumni are very successful community members who want to give back and they teach classes at the ARC. “It’s good for the alumni and it’s good for our men coming through the program,” said Major Edmonds. The center alternates which corps the beneficiaries attend each Sunday between Baltimore Temple, Baltimore Hampden and Middle River Corps. “We try to introduce them to the different corps, so it introduces them to both The Salvation Army and church life. We believe it will encourage and strengthen them in their life as they move on,” he said. Lt. Colonel William Crabson, chaplain at the center, teaches soldiership classes through which several beneficiaries and alumni have become soldiers in recent years. One of those is Edward Lejk, alumnus of the Baltimore ARC and resident manager.
His story is one of a man who had lived most of his adult life as an alcoholic and had given up hope that he could ever change – even though he had a strong desire to. “I had gotten arrested for my second DUI, and the judge said I could go to prison for a year or come to the program at The Salvation Army. The only thing I knew about the Salvation Army was the bell ringers, but I figured it’d be better than prison,” said Lejk. Lejk assumed once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic – he’d been in several rehabilitation programs already. “For some reason, when I came here I took hold of the gospel,” he said. After taking a Bible correspondence course and surrendering his life to the Lord, he continued to attend Bible studies. “It seemed like the more honor I gave to the Lord, he just opened up the gates and continued to bless me,” he said. After seven months, he was offered employment as a dispatcher and now resident manager, 12 years sober. Lejk is a soldier at the Baltimore Hampden Corps and says The Salvation Army Baltimore ARC changed his life. “I think The Salvation Army taught me how to live. Most (rehabilitation) places promoted your addiction and their program, and here they promoted Jesus. I love The Salvation Army because they brought the Lord into my life.”
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