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The Transition House Success Stories
A Part of Me
My story begins in a small town in Florida by the name of Lake City. It is here where my drug addiction began.
I was honorably discharged from the Army in 1993 and decided to go back to Lake City and start my life over. Let me just say, I’m originally from Englewood, New Jersey. My parents grew up in Lake City and wanted to come back home after they had retired. I hated Lake City. All the dirt roads. The language was so different than what I was used to. Nevertheless, I graduated from high school and went into the military.
In 1995, my life changed for the worse. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was visiting a cousin at his house and it was there I was introduced to crack cocaine. My life would never be the same. That first hit, I was hooked for 25 years of my life.
I’ve robbed, stolen, broke into people’s houses, all because of my addiction. I’ve slept in abandoned houses, slept on park benches, in crackhouses. I’ve eaten out of dumpsters and the list goes on and on. Nothing positive came out of my drug addiction. I was in a very dark place and all alone. My family cut off all communication with me and I was very angry at them for doing so. I was just totally out of control.
My daily routine would be get up (if I had any sleep at all) and try to find ways to smoke crack. It was common for me to go days without a shower or food in my mouth. It’s very sad when you don’t care how you look or feel about life. People talk down to you, disrespect you, and treat you less than a human being.
Nobody chooses this for their life – it just happened. It’s how you overcome that is the key. You have to make up your mind. Believe me, it’s not easy. I pretended that I was going to stop, promised my family I was going to stop, but it was all just talk. I missed out on a lot during my addiction. Family gatherings, funerals of important people in my life. I’ve lost cars, homes, jobs, tried to commit suicide three times. That’s how bad I was, but there is a happy ending to all of this.
It was September 9, 2015, when I decided to come to The Transition House in Saint Cloud, Florida. It changed me forever. It was there I found out total strangers cared about me when I didn’t care about myself. I learned how to live again and made a conscious decision to change my life.
I’m a religious and spiritual man. I couldn’t have made it without God’s guidance and direction. Always loved going to church since I was a little boy. Here, I was taught that you are what you think you are, meaning, you can be anything you want to be in your life. I was given a second chance to make it right.
No one is promised tomorrow, I’ve always said to myself. I didn’t want to die being a drug addict. To me, it just seems a waste of life. I’ve since enrolled at Valencia College and UCF for my Bachelor’s in Psychology and to become a mental health counselor to help veterans or anyone with substance abuse and alcohol-related problems.
In my closing, I am so grateful and thankful to Mr. Tom Griffin and all the staff at The Transition House for creating a new me. I’m more focused and determined than I’ve ever been. People love me again and want to be around me. That’s a great feeling.
The main reason I’m writing this letter is that hopefully, it will inspire someone to change their life and realize that life is worth living.
I write this in all sincerity and honesty,
– Brian C.
I am the new face of homelessness.
Being homeless is not just those who are on drugs, uneducated, living in a corner or on the streets. We are veterans who are living with friends, families or in cars. We are going to school and struggling to make ends meet.
We are the veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and/or Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
We are struggling to move forward, but with help some of us are making it.
I graduated from Florida Technical College in March with an associate’s degree in web and graphic design and I’m going back to school in October to finish up my PhD in organizational management and leadership.
While at FTC, I established a student veterans group and was the FTC Kissimmee campus Student Veterans of America president.
Attending FTC was a humbling experience. I was welcomed into an environment that lacked understanding of the needs of veterans. Through their willingness to learn and an open mind to change, I was able to assist hundreds of veterans.
Together, we were able to make a difference and begin offering the services student veterans and families really need.
It was a life changing experience!
– Rosa Perez
Dear Tom Griffin,
Thank you from a former client who would never dream of the life that I have. I entered your facility on August 2nd 2012, coming from the Santa Rosa, State of Florida Correctional facility where I was finishing my 12-year sentence in the Florida Department of Corrections. I was one of the first inmates to be in a new program started by the Florida Department of Corrections where only Veterans served their time. I was informed of your program and I applied for admission. The moment I received your letter of acceptance my outlook on life changed a little. You see as I was nearing the end of my sentence I had nowhere to go upon being released. Your letter gave me some hope that maybe just maybe I would be okay as I faced 3 years of Probation upon my release.
I am grateful to you and your staff for the direction I received as I worked the program that was explained during the intake process. I followed the directions and suggestions by those who were in the program before me and were successful helping me to understand the process as implemented and ensuring a successful reentry into society along with a fulfilling life. I came to your Program as a person with no hope, no future and no direction. The counselors and caseworkers gave me encouragement and told me how I could be an asset for society. They gave me suggestions on how to improve my life and direction when it became necessary, but more importantly, they told me to trust the process. There were times when I wanted to give up, to just quit and when I faced those moments, the case workers, counselors, and staff used encouragement and love to keep me on track.
Today I am a licensed HVAC Technician, but that was not enough education for me. I discovered that I like education and I was able to pursue an Associate’s Degree from Valencia College. Today I am a Junior at The University of Central Florida in the School of Social Work. This is a direct result of the help, direction, and suggestions I received from your Program. I work on recovery every single day because your Staff showed me the way and the result was up to me. I sat in your office once and you told me that this was the best time in my life and that I should enjoy it. I do and the best part is that I am present and appreciative of my life. Thank You, Tom and The Transition House for saving me when I believed there was no hope and no future.
– TTH Veteran’s Program Resident
Dear Mr. Griffin,
I would like to say, thank you for everything you have done. You have made a big impact on so many people’s lives. I can just imagine what you had to fight for to get us the help we really needed. If it wasn’t for you, I would most likely be on my way to prison. This program is going to help me get my child back and put me back on track to be an honest worker. Your program is great for me and many others. This is a life-changing process and this program is the best thing that happened for me. I would be on the street doing God knows what or in prison missing out on my kid and family. I’m grateful and thankful to be here and even though my family is not with me, I know things will be better. I get in my feelings sometimes because I miss them but you have a great staff here to back me up and let us know everything will be ok. If you were wondering how your program is doing, well my opinion is you’re doing great, Mr. Griffin. Once again, thank you very much.
– TTH Starke Program Resident
I am writing you this letter to take the time to say thank you and express my gratitude for allowing me the opportunity to finish up my sentence at Tarpon Springs CRC. Through my time in DOC I have had a lot of idle time to sit and contemplate the choices and actions that led me to my incarceration. When I entered DOC I was a broken down, dry addicted, lost soul looking for anyone and anything to blame, all the while denying that the problem looked me right the face each morning. The problem has always been me, not the drugs, or the poor choices. These were simply just the by-products of me. I set out to prove that DOC is stupid, pointless, not for me and plainly a waste of time.
In doing so, I found myself becoming bitter, saying that the world owes me, I don’t belong there and found myself falling backward instead of growing. Then I was informed of the work release program and I thought to myself maybe there truly can be some sort of reform in DOC, but it’s all in how you perceive things. I began surrounding myself around people who truly wanted their freedom and wanted to make something out of their lives. It was amazing how quickly my perspective of DOC changed. If I couldn’t follow simple rules and procedures behind the bars, how could I ever find success once again in the real world? Sure a lot of the rules are ridiculous and childish, but that’s the point! Most of us inmates acted childish and immature to get where we are. We needed that strict set of rules to remind us where we are and where we want to be.
I can’t express how much gratitude I have for you and your staff here for the opportunity and privilege I was given to be here. I was able to obtain a job in which I was promoted twice and in my stay here I will be keeping up on my EOS. I was reunited with a childhood friend whom I consider a role model now seeing how he came through these same doors and where he is now. I may not have always agreed with the things you said or did, but I have an enormous amount of respect for you and commend you on your hard work here. It’s not supposed to be a vacation, it’s a very lucky and blessed opportunity and a wonderful chance to get my life back in order. In my opinion, this is what DOC should be. This program helps us re-enter into society and teaches us to be productive members of society again. I am extremely grateful for the way my life has changed directly related to this program. Life is what we make it and there are those who choose to just skate by, then there are the ones like myself who realize the opportunity I was given and ran with it. When I arrived here I had goals in mind, and through this program, I was able to achieve them and so much more.
In closing, I just wanted to let you know for what it’s worth how honored I am to have been granted this opportunity, for your hospitality and your ability to push us to almost breaking points to motivate us to make something of our time here. It’s been a pleasure talking sports with you and overall advice for life when I was EOS. I have much respect for you and your staff. Thank you so very much for all your help both directly and indirectly on my journey to patching up the road to my future.
– Client, Work Release Program, Tarpon Springs
I was a Navy Seal for 16 years, but am now retired. During that time, a shot a 13 year-old-girl fatally when tracking an enemy, who was shooting at me with an AK-47 in Vietnam. I did not mean to kill her. But she has been in my mind’s eye constantly. I used to live with her in my dreams. She has been with me for 40 years.
I used opiates to forget the past years and to cope with when my wife Diane died in the bed next to me from an overdose. I went on a binge of pain pills and heroin. I got off by myself, staying with friends, and taking methadone and weaning myself off down to 100mg a day. Finally, I turned myself in to Haven Recovery in Deland, Florida. It was there that I realized that PTSD was my main problem. I called the CEO of The Transition House, Tom Griffin, who sent me an application for their Veterans Residential Program. I was accepted in just a few days.
With the help of their Clinical Supervisor, Felipe, I was referred to and treated by LMHC Mike Kellogg, a specialist in cognitive therapy, EFT and PTSD. I received support from the treatment team including Mike, Alyssa, Sheba, Nina and many others. Along with the team, the other residents here have helped me deeply as well. It has been the best experience of my life and it has changed me forever.
The girl in my dreams from Vietnam helps me clear up the past. I don’t have any regrets about my past. I believe that girl is now my angel and she helps me face my fears including the other deaths in my life. I deeply believe that without The Transition House I would have never been able to see that.
Today, I am going back to school so I can teach Physics at a community college. This is all part of my plan now. To go to school, graduate and build my life with my girlfriend Kisha and her children.
I can not say enough about the help I have received. If you need help with addiction, homelessness or veteran programs, please talk to someone or call The Transition House. It will change your life, as it has changed mine.