-Jason St. Denis
Green Machines: It's Emily! I'm here to tell you about our day at New Jerusalem. It's a place where addicts and people who are trying to recover go to get a second chance at life. These people could have been there for 3 days to 9 years. We got to sit in on an NA/AA meeting (Narcotic and alcohol anonymous) and the people loved getting us involved. We heard the stories and one that touched me was the story of this great girl named Latifa. She was 23 and had a 7 year old son. She was an addict and was in the process of getting her life back. She loved meeting all the kids and to us she was really just one of us. She also loved Josh!
We also met this man who had been going to New Jerusalem since 2003. He had been clean for years at a time but he then relapsed and is trying to be clean again. The people were not forced to tell their stories but they all were very happy to. They really tried to express how drugs and alcohol messed up their lives and they don't want the same to happen to us. After eating lunch, we broke up into small groups and finished all sorts of jobs.One group helped with the composting, gardening and weeding and even got sprayed off with the hose. One group went to the ladies house and helped organize and did some cleaning. They got gifts from one lady who was very grateful. The last group that I was in went to one of the mens houses and helped paint, pick up trash, and clean a hanging chandelier. The men were eager to help and one of the men even sang for us. He was so happy and just wanted to show his gratitude. Beth Stearns and I were painting a railing when this man came over to sit with us. He said how without God he wouldn't be here and God is the one who gave him his second chance at life. He explained how many of his friends don't believe in God and that he feels called to tell his story to as many people as possible. He began to tear up when he talked about God, but he said it was normal and that he is just so grateful for everything in his life, that he can't even express his gratitude. It was so touching.
After doing some jobs, we played frisbee with a man who said before how he lost his childhood due to addiction, and playing frisbee made him feel young again. After finishing some work and wrapping up, we made the closing circle. Everyone shared how they were thankful, and then Jamie proceeded to pass out from dehydration. He was fine and the thankful people gave us orange juice and snacks for Jamie, but... they were really for us. Overall, today the green machines learned how just listening to people tell their stories can change your life. These people are choosing to turn their lives around and are allowed to leave if they want, but many stay and go to meetings every day. They all have one thing in common and that is that they are all dedicated to God and recovery.
We were very productive today, to say the least. Our group, the Green Machines, and the Pink Panthers combined forces at the main house for the New Jerusalem organization. We found many things in disrepair and things that just needed some time to fix. Teddy Tavernier, Evan Gonzalez, Brian Arnesen, and myself (Alex B.) were presented a challenge. We were set to the task of restoring a long- dry pond. After some heavy duty cleaning, experimenting with vacuums, cleaning out the tubing, and fixing the pump, the pond used for reflection and thought was in better shape than it ever was before. The entire time, we received help and moral support from the New Jerusalem residents, who were truly grateful. We, as a group, also did minor tasks such as gardening, watering, and weeding, fixing an old rotted step, minor electrical work (with adult supervision), and a door repair. Some of the group will go back to the same organization this Thursday.
Pink Panthers: They worked with the group above. Teddy contributed to the above blog post, too....
Chris reporting in. After our work day, we took the kids for cheesesteaks, and y'all can ask them whether they went Pat's or Gino's. I'm not into cheesestakes, myself, but when in Philly.... do as the 'delphains do. I'm not sure they call themselves 'delphians, but I just did. Anyway.
We walked to the BRAND NEW Spruce street Harbor park full of hammocks and lights and fun times. There, we found a great spot where the Pink team led worship.
Then we saw fireworks above the river today. It was a good day.