Jim can point to the day he began to reclaim his life. It was Sunday, August 29, 2008, after “the worst night of my life,” he said.
Somehow that Sunday after years of drugs, alcohol, jail time and job losses Jim believed he could change.
“I made up my mind I could stop using. I could walk away. I could say no.” That morning he started on a new path of sobriety.
The balance of structure and independence he eventually found at Lydia Apartments helped Jim make the transition back homelessness and addiction and allowed him to get healthy and stay stable.
Last November, after six years at Lydia, Jim had the confidence -- and now, the opportunity -- to take “one more step toward mainstream society.” He moved into one of the 19 apartments at The Lonoke, Beacon's newest renovation.
The renovation is a boon not only for its tenants but for the neighborhood. In 2005 when Beacon purchased the building it had the dubious distinction of the most crime and drug calls in the neighborhood. The renovation completed last year includes 10 units for people like Jim, who once experienced homelessness and required a lot of support to get their lives in order, and have made great strides towards health and well-being.
Jim’s new place is a coveted corner unit that features charming woodwork and many windows. There is space to do his artwork, a spot for his 28-gallon aquarium, and room for his dog, Pippin, to play. It’s not far from Lydia so he can visit a couple of times a week.
Though he’d like to work again, his age (58) and a felony on his record are obstacles to being hired, he says. But he keeps busy with his art work, visits to Lydia, his animals and spending time with friends and support groups.
Jim’s ongoing path of recovery requires courage, compassion and self-care. “I can’t have mental health without sobriety, and I can’t have sobriety without mental health,” Jim says. “It’s important to remind yourself of what you’ve done, not just what you haven’t.”
Photo credit: Rebecca Zenefski