When Andrew walked in The Salvation Army’s Oberlin Service Unit seeking food assistance, he was basically homeless and weighed just 96 pounds. As he met with our staff, his story began to unfold. Andrew had served our country in Afghanistan, but due to injuries and trauma, he began self-medicating and became addicted to heroin. As he continued to share his story, it was clear he was caught in a cycle of addiction.
We encouraged Andrew to continue speaking with us. We shared with Andrew that The Salvation Army had programs that could help him if he wanted to turn his life around. Andrew accepted our invitation, and allowed us to walk alongside of him on the journey to a healthy life. Through The Salvation Army’s 49-9 Project, we were able to place him in both The Salvation Army’s homeless shelter and detox program at our Harbor Light Complex, and then once he was clean, he entered our Adult Rehabilitation Center in Cleveland. Here he would stay for three months working on finding employment and getting stronger mentally and physically every day. We worked with several courts to help him begin to clear up legal issues stemming from his addiction. It fills our hearts to share that Andrew is now sober, free from legal issues and working as a Peer Specialist with a local recovery center.
During this time, we also developed a relationship with Andrew’s mother who had been devastated by her son’s addiction and legal troubles. Through many conversations, she was able to make peace with the situation and follow his progress to sobriety. They now have an amazing, strong and supportive relationship.
Prison Ministry Expands After Covid Pandemic
The Northeast Ohio Salvation Army (NEOSA) is expanding the 49-9 Project Prison Ministry as correctional facilities move from under the shadow of Covid-19.
The program was started in 2013 using Director Mark Fahringer’s own experiences in the correctional system and a family member’s tragic experience being held hostage by a released offender.
“That situation really pushed me,” he said. “I didn’t want anyone else to have to go through that if I could make a difference.”
Based on Isaiah 49:9, the program immediately began to grow and had reached 6,000 inmates by the time Covid-19 closed Ohio prisons to outside programs.
Despite the suspension of programming in the institutions, the 49-9 Project continued to provide financial assistance to individuals being released from prisons in Northeast Ohio during the pandemic.
The 49-9 Project is now reentering institutions to once again facilitate classes focusing on faith-based programming to help individuals realize their inner strength and move past their crimes. Practical classes including job searches, resume writing, and interviewing skills are also in the works. Once released, inmates will be linked to Christian worships and pastoral care opportunities at local Salvation Army Corps Community Centers while continuing case management and mentoring within the program.
To learn more about the 49-9 Project, please click here
To make a donation to the 49-9 Project, please click here