Renewal Story: Kirk

Posted: March 29, 2016

A promotion, a raise and a new apartment are just some of the manifestations of Kirk’s transformation during his stay at Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County.

If any of us met the same man eight years ago, we would have encountered a broken soul, devastated by the loss of his mother with nowhere to sleep at night other than between the doors of his car. Rewind even two years ago and the face we see beaming with excitement today was that of a raging alcoholic, who roamed the streets of Fort Worth while trapped in depression’s unconquerable hold.

Now, Kirk says he’s much different than the person he was when alcohol consumed him – maybe even someone his peers at UGM-TC can learn from.

"After what I’ve been through, I’m trying to be an example for people who are trying to sober up. You can have fun without it. For me, this program worked.”

At an age when most children strengthen their reading skills and fret over sharing snacks and toys with friends, Kirk says his war against alcohol abuse was just beginning.

“My dad was an alcoholic, my mom worked real hard. I grew up in an environment by myself,” he says. “ My dad had his alcohol in the house and I started drinking when I was six years old.”

Unfortunately, the juxtaposition of Kirk’s childhood alcoholism followed him into adolescence and stalked him into adulthood.

“I turned out to be a rebel. Stealing, having fun, hanging out with guys who drank. Some of them were potheads, dope heads and all that. That’s who I hung out with,” says Kirk. “Causing trouble was my favorite thing to do.”

After committing a burglary, Kirk ended up in prison and catapulted into a downward spiral, still reliant on alcohol after his release.

It wasn’t until four years ago at 42 years old that Kirk realized his life was out of control. The dangerous affects his behavior had on a family member caused him to rethink his habits.

“I was grown up, living out on the streets with my baby brother. I put him in harm’s way too much.”

The knowledge of a friend who left his life of homelessness and constant drunkenness for renewal at the Mission sparked a glimmer of hope within Kirk. After discussing UGM-TC’s residency program with close family members, he decided to give it a go and began his own transformation.

“I criticized everything for a long time but when I came in here, I started doing a lot of reflecting on my past,” Kirk says.

Finally sober with a strong grip on his mental health issues, Kirk goes to work everyday at a local bagel shop and has started saving money for retirement. Though some struggles persist, his alcohol cravings are rare and his ambition is at an all-time high.

“I’ve got responsibilities and I realize that now. I’ll do whatever it takes to get back on my feet.”

After grasping how to live life on his own, outside of the Mission, Kirk plans to come back and volunteer.

“This place has taught me a lot. I’m trying to show the guys when you get out of here, if you do a two-year or a three-year stint, it doesn’t matter. Come back and give back to this place because you’re showing this place you care about it,” he says. That shows others, ‘OK, I can do this. Let me get out of here.’”

Looking at Kirk, there is hope in his eyes. It’s undeniable that this is a new and welcome chapter in his life.

A promotion, a raise and a new apartment are just some of the manifestations of Kirk’s transformation during his stay at Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 (Amplified)

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