Richard, my oldest, originally got this hand-me-down car from my Dad. It’s a 1999 Toyota Avalon with 120,000 miles on it. Top of the line in 1999.
Richard dropped it off for inspection when he drove up from NC and the amount of work needed to be done exceeded the value of the car. He was crestfallen. He loved that car. The mechanic suggested selling it on Craigslist for parts as the engine would be worth something.
When my friend Julie generously offered to sell us her 2008 Nissan Altima with 115,000 miles for a song, we couldn’t see investing some $3,500 in the Avalon so we got the Altima for Richard.
We decided we’d pay it forward and donate the Avalon to someone in recovery and looked into Caritas.
Before calling, I asked our friend Chris, the house manager at a sober house, if anyone might want it. It needed work but the car was drivable and had only 133,000 miles on it. It needed four struts, four tires and an air conditioner.
Chris said he’d ask.
Meanwhile, Chris needed to stop by one day and pick up some tools (he uses some of our tools to complete some of the jobs he does) and brought a new guy with him. On the way to our house, he tells this new guy he is going by Anne Moss and Randy Roger’s house.
His jaw drops and he says he knows us, lived near us when we lived in Chesterfield County and that he had been friends with Charles and we’d not seen Conner since Charles suicide in 2015. Chris calls later and tells us the story. I remembered Conner was Charles’ friend. I also remembered his fixing Charles’ CRV years ago and how much he loved to work on cars.
Guess what? Conner desperately needed a vehicle and he’s a mechanic.
It was meant to be.
Conner came over and got the car and we were delighted to help a friend of Charles’ in recovery. Andy remembered him and started wagging his tail and licking his face. Before he left, Conner gave me another hug and expressed how grateful he was.
The truth is, I was grateful I had it to give.
Those who suffer substance use disorder are often starting from scratch when they begin their recovery journey. It’s not unusual that they have nothing more than the clothes on their back. Imagine being completely wiped out and starting over from nothing?
It’s a complete life change. New lifestyle, new friends, and usually no money. The community needs to pitch in where they can. Not just because they need it, but to show that as a community we are supporting their efforts to maintain sobriety so they can rebuild their lives and their self esteem. They need to know we are rooting for them.
It felt good to help a friend of Charles’ with this gift. And I hope you’ll pay it forward and support someone in the recovery community.