By: Katie Sobiech
Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to make or break a person. Jefferson Blair, a Resident of the Haven of Rest, knows this from firsthand experience. He knows what it is like to lose everything because of a drug addiction, and he is here to tell his story.
There are many different paths to homelessness, but in Blair’s case, simply put – it was the result of bad choices. Drugs, alcohol, and the club scene led him down a destructive path, causing him to spiral downward and lose control of his life. If it were not for the grace of God pointing him in a different direction and the help of staff at the Haven of Rest, who knows where he would be today, or if he would even be here.
Let’s take an inside look at the life of this Haven of Rest resident….
A Step Back in Time
Originally from Chicago where he grew up in a little town, Blair remembers only having a couple of stoplights in the entire neighborhood, and two police cars. “It was a real simple town,” he said, “so everybody knew each other.”
His mom and dad were separated, leaving his mother with the task of raising a family by herself and trying to keep her kids on the right track, “She did the best she could,” Blaire said quietly, looking down as he reminisced.
When he got older he decided to join the military and then enrolled at a college in Ohio. One of his friends who he had met in the military was a drummer and so they started a band in the early 1980’s, playing a lot of Rock n Roll. “We’d play stuff like Rush, Van Halen, Metallica…,” he said.
That same friend was the one who had talked him into moving to Ohio, and he did, because he wanted to start all over. So he stayed with his friend while “getting it together”.
The Club Scene
Soon they began hitting the club scene – playing as many clubs as they could. “The club scene was hot back then, of course, nothing for my spirituality,” he said, “so I was sowing wild oats.”
They had a female drummer who was exceptionally good, “Our band was attractive,” he said, smiling, “everybody liked us.”
He met a lot of different people at the shows; some of those being Deacons and Pastors of local churches now.
Taking a Detour
Though he admits to hanging out with an “edgy” crowd, he makes it clear that he doesn’t blame them for leading him on the path he took. “I was just going on a downward spiral,” he said, “but it was my decision.”
As they continued playing the clubs, he began getting deeper and deeper into drugs and alcohol. “I was way out of control,” he said, “but the Lord spared me.”
Through his addiction he somehow managed to continue school, but in his second year at Akron University he found himself struggling to keep up. “I was at a low place,” he said, “but I thought ‘there’s nothing wrong, it’s just a bump in the road – I’ll be fine’. I was going to school everyday and working, I was what you call a functional doper.”
Eventually he couldn’t keep the lifestyle up anymore, so he told all of his teachers that he couldn’t stop using and that he needed to drop out of his classes. This was the dead end that drove him to make an appointment to talk to one of the Chaplains at the Haven of Rest. “I felt God tell me ‘You need to clean up your act’,” he said
A Divine Appointment
“I was kinda shaky about it (talking to a Chaplian),” he said, “thinking it might not be a good idea, but then one of the Chaplains caught me walking down East Market street one day and said ‘Chaplain Meeks really wants to talk to you.”
“My appointment wasn’t until a week later, but the Chaplain told me “Come on in, we want to talk to you today’.”
So, Blair decided to go in, and they had a discussion that would change his life forever. “I was flat out honest with the Chaplain that I couldn’t stop using drugs and that I really needed help. I really wanted the Lord Jesus Christ in my life,” he said.
Confessing the sins of his past, and being honest and transparent with the Chaplain opened up a path to healing for Blair that he had never experienced before.
Blair says that he was shocked that the Chaplain responded with such love instead of judgment. “I thought he was going to take me down in the basement and flog me a couple of times, hang me by my thumbs,” he laughed, “I didn’t think (forgiveness) was going to come that quick.”
He remembers crying a lot when sharing everything he had done in his past, but it was also “a joyous moment”.
“I was really happy that I could put all that stuff behind me. I could finally say ‘the Lord is taking care of me now; He’s taking the burdens off of my shoulders’.”
During this emotional time the staff at the Haven of Rest gave Blair the support that he needed for a full recovery. “They are really good at working with wayward people like me who come from all walks of life.”
Chaplain Meeks was especially helpful, teaching Blair a lot of things about the Bible that he didn’t understand. L.J. Dalton in Career Development also stands out in his mind as a woman who taught him how to apply Bible verses to his life (especially on patience, while waiting for a job!).
Experiencing the Learning Center
It’s been a long, yet exciting journey for Blaire, who recently graduated from the Learning Center’s Computer Literacy course, Career Development course, and Chaplain Meeks Bible Study course. Looking back, it was a big accomplishment for him – a man who admits he had a hard time ever completing anything he started.
Although he’s taken management courses at Akron University, he said “There are a lot of areas that L.J. Dalton covered that I would’ve never encountered going to college. Both career courses were a big help for me. I got a wealth of knowledge out of it.”
And he’ll never forget the night when he got a knock on his door and several staff members surprised him with a ticket to the Indians game. “We had a blast! I’ll be honest – I never had as much fun as I’ve had here (at the Haven of Rest),” he said, giving a big smile.
Entering the Haven of Rest’s program has helped Blair tremendously and he’s taken away many lessons from his stay. “My advice to anybody out there,” he said, “is that drinking and drugging is so generic, it’s as if you have to work to get somewhere where God naturally endowed you with in the first place. As God’s creation I know that He did not mean for us to go out there and use drugs and drink.”
“When you do drugs and alcohol you are really out of control and don’t know what you’re doing,” he said with concern.
His dream now is to be a part time musician and full time hardware computer technician, but he jokes, saying that he doesn’t want to leave the Haven of Rest. “That’s the hard part, knowing that I do have to leave sooner or later – I have to go,” he said, getting quiet, “but I’m really happy now that the Lord came into my life and saved me.”