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he became active in the school sports program. When his GPA dropped below a 2.0 and he was no longer eligible to play school sports. “I had no reason to stay in school,” he says. Dropping out and moving to Salt Lake City


to work in a mine, he met his wife, with whom he enjoyed a life of partying. They moved back to Spokane and she quit drugs after they had children. During this time he became an intravenous drug user. Eventually divorcing, his ex-wife took control of her life and told Collins he needed to go to the Mission. He


The east door is the door through which


men enter the shelter. “You’ve got to swallow your pride to open it. The first time through is scary. There are people who have to grab that east door one, two, three or even four times,” says Collins. Luckily, redemption doesn’t keep count. “The real miracle of what this place is about


happened in the next three days,” says Collins. “I gave my word I’d stay for three days. Day three, I was sitting there looking at the floor and a guy comes up to me from the side and


Program, both Viers and Collins were given a new lease on life. The program is roughly 16 months with four, four-month, phases. On average, 24 men are in the program at one time, with a 35-person maximum. Three masters- level counselors, a chaplain and five staff members work with the program participants, who are required to live on-site and work. There is zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol at the Mission, freeing participants from the bonds that hold many of them down. “Most places function out of punishment,


said no. Down to 137 pounds, homeless, freezing


and out of options, Collins finally made his way to the Union Gospel Mission in February 2007, but it wasn’t a willing and eager man who walked through those doors. “There was no way I was staying here,” says


Collins. “I thought I needed treatment, not a homeless shelter. I put on my protective shell—a prison mentality—walking in the east door,” he says of his arrival at the Mission. “Walking in the east door, that was tough.”


74 SPOKANE CDA • July - August • 2011


said ‘hey you know where to get stuff [drugs], don’t you?’. I looked at him and said, ‘I’m not interested.’ I walked out the door and walked up to the corner and stopped and said, ‘Oh my God, I just beat it.’ Then came the realization I’d been three days clean. I’d never been thirty minutes clean. I realized I’d had no desire in those three days to use. That was the first time ever in my life. I put my elbows into my knees and I said ‘I’ll do it. I’ll give it everything I’ve got, God’.” Enrolled in the Freedom Bound Recovery


a sense of checking boxes,” says Jerry Reese,


program manager at


the Mission.


“This is a grace-based process and there is higher accountability in this process. In this community we want people to have freedom to examine their failures and learn and grow through them.” Cultivating “God-dependent


contributing


members of society” is the goal of the Mission, but Reese, Viers and Collins all know it can be a tough road. “People who are in addictions are takers and are not viewed in society as people


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