a story by staff writer Molly Hicks
When I asked Jackie what was the best thing he has learned about himself on his journey, he replied:
“I am resilient. I can go through some things, but come back and hold on to the present.”
Francis Center opened up as part of Catholic Family Center’s housing program in the early 90’s. Approximately 1,000 men receive emergency housing each year, and have access to the 24-hour on sight staff, fully furnished kitchen as well as a number of counseling and skills training services. It was at Francis Center back in 2013 when Jackie Wallace began his journey towards sobriety.
“I feel, I deal, I heal.”
Jackie began experimenting with drugs when he was just 13 years old. Raised by a single mother with three younger brothers, Jackie made it clear to me that he indeed had a great childhood; full of dreams to become a musician or an actor as he never minded being in the spotlight. As he continued with his story, he paused a moment to say that if at 13 years old he could have somehow seen what his life would become — losing custody of his children, jobless, homeless — he would have chosen better friends.
“They have been walking hand in hand with me.”
Jackie explained to me that the hardest part of his journey was first admitting that he had a problem because he felt mainly he had lost himself. Only after finally “surrendering to the process of healing, being so desperate for something different”, he was able to accept the help he knew he needed at Francis Center.
“I’m very proud to say I am employable now.”
Jackie has since been enrolled at Monroe Community College (MCC) in the Human Services Associate’s program. Making the Dean’s List each semester of his attendance, he now is patiently awaiting graduation in December and looking forward to give back by helping others who find themselves in similar situations as he once was.
“It’s a real special day for me.”
In his final thoughts, Jackie stated that his biggest motivator throughout his journey was an overwhelming fear of death. “I didn’t want to die still using, not having accomplished anything in life, and just becoming another statistic.” This made me think of the German poet, Bertolt Brecht when he wrote: “Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life.” As I pondered this, Jackie continued by sharing his hopes and desires. His joy was almost palpable. I watched him as he talked about wanting to be productive on a daily basis, being able to willingly give back and help others, and rebuilding broken relationships. He beamed like a ray of bright sunshine when he told me for the first time — he felt a sense of purpose.
You can read more stories of hope, and learn about our programs to help young men like Jackie achieve independence at www.cfcrochester.org