Triune Mercy Center has long been a partner in our efforts to the help the homeless of Greenville County. Last Thursday we were honored to have Rev. Deb Richardson-Moore, Executive Director for Triune, attend our semi-annual GED graduation and introduce one of our participant speakers. Here’s is Rev. Richardson-Moore’s letter about the evening:
I am on vacation this week, but I pulled myself away from taped episodes of “Revenge” to attend a GED graduation held by our friends at United Ministries. They had given me the honor of introducing Max.
Max was a hard-core regular at Triune for many years. By hardcore, I mean nobody on our staff could get through to him. He was an alcoholic and a brawler. He came in every weekend with fresh breaks and fresh bruises and an indignant story to go along with them.
But I liked Max’s honesty. He owned up to his problem drinking, which inevitably led to an explosion of his pent-up anger. “You’re better than this,” I told him on more than one occasion, as he shrugged, thanked us for the meal and left the dining hall.
Every once in awhile, Max would disappear for months at a time, and I’d hold out hope that he was doing better. But inevitably, he’d return with an explanation of jail time or a hospital stay.
Then last summer he disappeared again. On a visit to the Greenville Rescue Mission, I ran into him. He was clean and clear-eyed and told me he’d been sober for eight months. He also told me he needed to stay away from Triune, because he would run into too many of his drinking buddies there.
“I understand completely,” I told him. “We’re always glad to see you, but you’re making a wise decision.”
He did, however, return for worship. That’s how he happened to be in the congregation on the Sunday morning that John Baker of GreenvilleWorks spoke about job training. John brought in an old-fashioned chalk board and drew a graph of how good jobs were available in Greenville’s transportation industry — but only to those who could build upon a foundation of sobriety and education.
Max rushed to meet with John afterward. Within days, he was enrolled in United Ministries’ GED program. He stopped by the church a few more times — to bring us a Christmas card, then to search our dress clothes closet for a suitable outfit to wear when automotive executives met their trainees for lunch.
At the graduation ceremony, I looked with awe at the nearly 200 cap-and-gowned grads, young and old, male and female, multi-hued. I took note of how many of our agency friends were a part of Max’s recovery — Miracle Hill’s Rescue Mission, United Ministries, Greenville Tech, GreenvilleWorks, Buncombe Street UMC. “Thanks for not giving up on me,” Max whispered after his speech.
The same could be said for all of them.