Seven days after entering into detox…
Richard Cole is released.
We are encouraged about his mental attitude and resolve to complete the plan.
That plan the Steve and Lindsey of Open Table worked on with him was one of recovery.
Well it is pretty simple.
-Go home and become a father to his teens
-and become a son to his mother.
Simple plan right?
Well it really is.
Except for the grip addiction has on individuals…
Because of that Grip…
A plan such as this is very difficult.
As was the case with Richard.
He worked hard for this.
He worked his craft of making crosses out of drift wood and vines…
Selling them to supporters of his cause.
His goal to make enough money to use to travel to NY and have money to get started in his new life.
He succeeded! The money he made will help him do just that.
For Richard the move from the dirt in the homeless camp life he had known for 15 years
was an emotional one.
For starters the city had threatened to tear down the camp six months earlier…
30 + volunteers set up camp and lived with Richard on the banks of the Cumberland River - in a statement of solidarity and convinced the city to allow Open Table to continue working on finding stable housing for those in the camp. The City agreed and gave them 6 months.
Open Table whose success rate of placing homeless people in housing far exceeds other organizations,
did just that finding housing for the 7 remaining people in the camp.
Richard was the last.
Volunteers came and helped pack up Richards belongings packing them in storage bins and loading them onto a trailer… Ch 4's Dennis Ferrier a great friend of good causes came and reported on Richards move out of the dirt and the plan was to then go directly to the hospital.
But it was not to happen…
Richard needed more time to reflect - say good by and rid his mind and heart from the place he had called home for so long.
It wasn't just this camp that he was leaving - it was a life style of homelessness that he had mastered for so long. His parting was not as much the physical place he called home but the people who he had helped by giving them a safe place to camp as they plowed through the streets of homelessness.
Richard's heart was always giving -always feeding - and always protecting his fellow man.
But this day - he needed time…
Time to release the past…
Many would have said the hell with it - stay in the woods -
but Steve and Lindsey stayed with him for over 19 hours as he struggled to move from the vacant site on the river to the doors of the detox facility.
Finally he walks through the door into a new life…
and it is still to this day amazing to see the man Richard has become in sobriety,
After a week -
Steve and I picked Richard up at the hospital ready for our road trip to a re-hab center 2 and 1/2 hours away from Nashville.
When checking out the clerk gave Richard his personal items locked up at check in.
I noticed two beers in his bag.
My heart sank as I knew that this would be his first test.
I pulled Steve aside and told him…
We both shook our heads…
What do we do?
Sit back and watch him drink his last beers as we take him to rehab?
Certainly not the first time someone has grabbed a last chance to get high when going into a treatment program.
Steve said to Richard. "Before we go we need to take care of those beers."
Richard replied "Trust me…. Trust me…"
We walked into the parking lot heading for the car when Richard stopped took the two beers out of the bag and popped the top of the first one.
"These are the last two beers you will ever see in my hand he announced"
I liked that statement but didn't like that he was going to chug them in front of the Detox hospital.
Boy was I wrong.
Richard started pouring the beer on the parking lot - first making a cross - then spelling his street name
"Papa Smurf" on the pavement.
He gave a quick wave to the patients on the third floor -
we watched this pre-arranged and well planned symbol of his road to recovery.
He said - " I hope that this will be an inspiration to those watching up there - to do the same when they are released."
We were amazed at the new Richard and also inspired by his continued resolve to beat his addiction and enter society once again.
To date the reports are that he is his doing great.
We would love for all of you to write to him and give him a word of encouragement.
If you would like to do so you can write a note to him in the following space.
and please continue to pray for him as he works on his new life.
Activists for homeless - inmates and the poor of this world.