Editor’s note: This article is the first in a new Southern Spirit series spotlighting the adult rehabilitation centers of the USA South. Installments will run in mid-month issues of the Southern Spirit.
With advisory council members from the Coca-Cola Company and Georgia Tech, the Atlanta Adult Rehabilitation Center is grateful for its partnerships with both entities – which help boost community awareness for this self-supporting center. Six different avenues of sales help fund the center, namely its five family stores, but also an everyday auction, where materials that can’t be sold in stores are auctioned off to be repaired; car auction a couple days each week; eBay auction site for collectibles and rare goods; financial contributions from the advisory council and auxiliary; and bulk sales, such as cardboard, scrap material, clothing and shoes.
“You try to sell everything you can,” said Major Lynda Delaney, Atlanta ARC administrator, “and throw away as little as possible.”
Every dollar made and item donated returns many-fold in the experiences of the men whose lives are transformed by participating in the 10-month rehabilitation program. Men rise early for breakfast at 6 a.m. and begin their work assignments promptly at 7:30 a.m. Whether it’s working in the warehouse, driving a truck, helping in one of the family stores or at one of the donation sites, or working around the ARC building, work therapy is a key component to the men’s rehabilitation. The philosophy of earning one’s keep has been the backbone of the ARC since its establishment as the men’s social service center. Not only do the men earn their keep and gain much-needed dignity from it, but all ARCs are self-funded, and, therefore, partnerships within the local community are greatly appreciated.
“The Coca-Cola Company has a clothing drive for us, and Georgia Tech does a clothing drive,” said Major Delaney, “but most of it comes from our everyday donors, our shoppers and our advisory council.” Another partnership that has benefitted the men greatly is one with Piedmont Hospital, which provides blood work for free at the center’s clinic – where retired doctors volunteer their time to give each man a physical when he enters the program and provide care that the men have neglected over the years.
The longer the men – called beneficiaries – stay in the program, the better; that’s why it is a 10-month program consisting of work therapy and nightly classes related to rehabilitation. The center graduates about 8 to 10 each month, and Major Delaney said it’s like a family atmosphere, so much so that many men visit to let her know how they’re doing and to mentor men in the program. One of the center’s goals is to renovate an already-purchased building adjacent to the ARC residence, so they can have a 14-bed transitional residence for men who graduate but have nowhere to go.
Jatavius, an Atlanta graduate who has been drug-free for 17 months, said it was a judge’s words that were the turning point for him to seek help. When she asked him if he wanted to go to prison for selling drugs, he said, “No, I want to go home.” Her response was, “You’re not going home because you’re a gun-wielding, drug-selling addict.”
After that, Jatavius and his lawyer had mere minutes to decide what better option there was to present to the judge. He remembered selling drugs near the steps of a church, asking the people who were buying his drugs where all the people passing by were headed. They told him, “They’re going to a meeting at The Salvation Army.” When it came time to approach the judge, Jatavius said he knew it was God reminding him of The Salvation Army.
“My brain has been healed; my body has been healed; my soul has been healed. I started using at a young age, 13 or 14, so me turning 30 being drug-free and being a child of God is a good feeling. I give all the glory to God,” he said.
Major Delaney said she loves working with men at the ARC because “it’s the basic Salvation Army principles in action. It’s where men come at their worst and it’s where they can change their lives; they find God in the midst of all their troubles. You watch them improve and grow, and leave a different person.”
For More Salvation Army News Visit: salvationarmysouth.org