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Spencer serves others, because you served him

"I'm here to serve others, because others served me when I needed it."

SpencerMy name is Spencer and it took me a long time to admit I had a drug problem.

Growing up, life was pretty normal. Then I started hanging around the wrong crowd as a teenager, just having fun. First, I tried cigarettes. Then marijuana. By the time I was thirty, I was sniffing cocaine and smoking crack, and I kept feeding that addiction for years.

I thought I was fine, because I had a job in the printing industry for 25 years. I worked my way from cleaning presses to overseeing equipment. But every week, my whole paycheck went to drugs. I used to bounce from pantry to pantry to eat, often visiting The Bowery Mission at night for dinner.

One day at work, after getting high all night, a song on the radio spoke to me. I saw my life flash before my eyes as I listened to the lyrics about “being lost without a cause.” I started crying, realizing my life wasn’t going anywhere. I walked straight to The Bowery Mission.

At the Mission, I was surrounded by counselors and guys in the program who wanted to help me make good choices. I used to blame the guy who sold me drugs for my problems. I started to realize it wasn’t my situation or anyone around me that was the problem; it was the man in the mirror the whole time.

I got a new start at the Mission. I left my old friends, old places and old ways behind. I started going to church and surrounding myself with positive influences.

One of the best things I started doing at the Mission was driving vehicles and serving food at the community food outreach. After graduating, The Bowery Mission hired me and I've been leading the Outreach Program for the past four years.

I get up at 5 a.m. to get food ready for the outreach. I love seeing the people come to the food line. I know how they feel, because I was in their shoes. I tell them not to be embarrassed. To see the joy on their faces is rewarding. People say thank you, give hugs and handshakes.

Coming to the Mission was the best thing I ever did. Today, I’m helping to make a difference and I don’t feel lost anymore. I’m here to serve others, because others served me when I needed it.


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Every day, The Bowery Mission's programs for men, women and children are making a life-transforming difference for people experiencing homelessness, poverty, addiction, unemployment and other crises. Your online gift today will go to work immediately providing meals, shelter, medical care and long-term recovery for adults; or mentoring and enrichment opportunities for youth.

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