It is not hard to see why Reggie Kelly believes his greatest skill is working with people. He’s a large, muscular man with a contagious smile. It is hard to see him as the crack cocaine addict he says he used to be, so caught up in the violence of the drug community that he was once dragged on the ground behind a truck for so long that stripped the skin off his body and left him with a crushed ankle. He says his ankle is held together with three pins and his life is held together with a structured lifestyle, accountability to peers who are recovering drug addicts and belief in Christ. In previous posts, I’ve written about meth addiction, but The Salvation Army helps people with all kinds of addictions. Reggie lives and works as a resident manager in The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), along with 70 other men recovering from substance abuse.
Before I started to work for the Army, I had long been a shopper at the ARC Family Store on 45th and Peoria. I had no idea that when I donated or bought something at the store, I was helping men recovering from substance abuse. The men work 40 hour weeks at the stores, and in the evenings, they participate in Bible studies and a Christian 12 Step Program called Celebrate Recovery. Reggie says he has been convicted of drug-related felonies seven times and served five different prison terms. But unlike the men I had heard about who are court ordered to the ARC, he checked himself in to work out the issues that he said had haunted him since before he first started using alcohol and marijuana at 15. He proudly told me that he has been clean and sober for 10 months. His advice to kids about drug use? “Don’t start. Drugs are not a solution to whatever you’re going through. Get into a church and learn who Jesus Christ is. He is the solution.” Thank you, Reggie, for sharing your story. I wish you the best in your recovery and your life.