My name is Arnaldo, and first, I’m an alcoholic. But I found something that made my life a whole lot more complete. I walked into Heartland House on June the 10th of 2015. I was scared, I didn’t have any hope or anything, you know I thought this was it. I had been to like three other treatment places, they said: “Oh no, you’ve been here before.” I’ve been to like seven that said, “What can we do for you? We can’t do anything for you. You already know what to do.” I said let me in, just please let me in. Because I was scared. I was drinking, I was having seizures if I tried to quit drinking. I ended up in the hospital time and time again.
So I called LaFitte, but I went to CMH first. A CMH advocate came and they said “what do you want to do? I said “I want to stop drinking. I know how to stop drinking, but I can’t stay stopped.” So they gave me a list, and on that list, they had Heartland House. That was the only name on that list that was highlighted he said, “Try Heartland House.” I said, ok. I’m going to try it. So I called LaFitte I talked to him, he said: “sure come on in for an interview.” I got there, and he looked at me and I said: “man, I wanna stop!” He said, “What are you willing to do?” I said, “I’m willing to do anything!.” So I called for like three weeks. Finally, LaFitte called me and said, we’ve got a bed for you.
I came the next day, and I got there and I was nervous, and there were all these people. But they were coming through the door saying “how you doing” this and that, so I said ok…here we go. The warmth that I felt there from everybody shaking my hand, asking me ‘are you ok’, ‘would you like this or that,’ made met think this might be alright.
So me saying that I wanted to be there was tested. I talked to Louis, who ended up being my counselor. He told me “when need somebody to come in here and separate these cans” You know, I said, “I don’t wanna do this!” There were five big cans of a bottle, and I didn’t want to, but I did it. I did it. I had to-it was all God. Anything is possible.
So a couple of weeks later Robert was outside, and I didn’t know he was the administrator, he was just outside talking, shootin’ it with us and I said you know, who is this guy? He must be one of the counselors. So when he finished he said, “My name is Robert Cook, I’m the administrator.” He started telling me about things that I could do.At that time, he gave me some hope, and he said you can do it.
I’ll be 60 years old in 2 months and I’ve been through so many treatment centers and I’ve been at this thing for like 39 or 4 years. And I can’t say that I put my all into it, but when I got to Heartland House something changed. Something changed. I thought it was God, but I just felt like hey this is it. I started paying attention, I started listening to things and listening to people. Everybody was just like hey you can do this, you can do this. And we started going through the process groups, and relapse prevention classes and I realized no one had ever really out it to me like this.- they would say, ‘you HAVE to do this, you HAVE to do that.’ Now I’m stubborn, if you tell me I HAVE to do something, I’m not going to do it. But they let me know that if you WANT to say clean if you WANT to have a life-you can do these things.
And I had lost-well, no-I gave it away-I gave away my daughter, my marriage, my family-so you had to ask why I wasn’t trying something. So I started doing things. Robert started to talk with me and I really thought he was just singling me out, but I started paying attention and it wasn’t just me, it was other people. LeFeet would come out, my counselor would come out and talk. These guys gave me strength, they gave me hope, and I got involved.
I got a sponsor, and I wish he was here because that man has put a lot into me and it was all through God. I met a guy-he’s here tonight-I met Craig. He told me some things about recovery and what to do. He’d say here apply for these jobs. I told him I want to do something different and I started going to school. And I looked for jobs, but I didn’t want to take a jb that was going to mess with the program. I truly believed that if I put my recovery first, I would be ok. Just one day at a time, and it started working! And I got happy, and I got excited, and I started working with guys again,
There was a guy named Roy and he had a back to basics class and we took that for 4 weeks and I learned a lot. And I started seeing guys there that had been in there before, Jeff, Johnny, was coming back, giving guys jobs. These are people that had been in there and had been gone for 5 years, and I started paying attention to all the people that came back and wanted to give back. I thought this is what I want to do.
And so I started praying really hard, I said ok this is going to work. And everybody would tell me just for today and that stuck with me. And to this very day, and that was about 22 months and 23 days ago. The elation I get what I can come to my coworkers and LeFeet and say hey I passed this test or I’m stressing because I know I procrastinated, I know I didn’t study, then Robert will look at me and say “yeah brother.” But God has been good to me, he placed me in Heartland House. And I see guys here now-I love giving back, I never believed that I would work here, I NEVER believed I would work here. But I work there, and it’s a good group of guys I work with. It’s like a family. And the guys there I truly care about them I love to see when guys come in there and they get it-just for a day, just for today, just keep going.
And Robert used to say something to me, he’d say ‘look to the left of you. Look to the right of you. Only one of you guys is going to be here’ I’m still there! And it’s sad to say, but those guys did the work for me. You know what, and I don’t have to go back out. It’s really sad that some of these are dead. These are guys that I talked with, and I enjoyed their company, and they made those decisions. And I truly believe that if I go back out, I’m going to die. So I stick around, I stay close to the people I’ve been around for the past two years. And I love them.
And I thank the board members, I met Marge-Marge is such a sweetheart! She told me “You want to do this? This is what you need to do.” She didn’t say this is what you HAVE to do, she said this is what you NEED to do.
The board members, you guys are wonderful because you come and you talk with us. You don’t just come to the board and walk away, you come sit and you say hi. I mean, and I get to see these guys tonight-Mary, she’s a sweetheart. John…Mike…You guys have something there at Heartland House, and it’s a lot of people. People come back, and they give back. People come back and they take 10 years. 14 years. And they say “You can do it”
I’m getting choked up, but you know what? This is good, I love this. And usually I wouldn’t want to get in front of a bunch of people, but it’s important that every knows that Heartland House and their curriculum that we have, the stuff that we’re doing, where we’re going-I’m proud to be a staff member there. I proud to be an alumni there. I’m proud that I can give something back and help guys. You know because I’m getting old, and some of these guys will helping me in a few years! (inaudible-laughter)
I’ve got to say, I love where I’m at, I love recovery, I love Daniel, I love Dale-I love all you guys. You know, I love the staff. And I’m going to keep pushing, just for today. Just for today. So thank you everybody.