Bethesda News

A Bright Future: Larry’s Story

When we hear the word ‘alcoholic’, it’s easy to picture someone who started sneaking drinks out of their parents’ liquor cabinet when they were only 11 years old. We don’t often think of someone who did well in high school and had a bright future ahead of them. However, that’s Larry’s story:

Growing up, Larry got good grades in school and loved reading. “I was an A and B student,” he said. “If you ask people who knew me in high school, they would say I was most likely to succeed.” He graduated from a vocational technical high school in Philadelphia with a GPA of 3.5 and went on to Penn State to study engineering.

He didn’t know his biological father, and his stepfather was abusive towards Larry, his mother, and his siblings. Growing up in church, he learned to pray and rely on Jesus, which he credits as what got him through the abuse. “I was raised believing in Jesus Christ—that was my foundation,” Larry said.

Larry didn’t start drinking alcohol until he was in college. When Larry met his biological father when he was 20, he learned his father and grandfather were alcoholics. “It was my hope that my father would be my savior, but it didn’t work out like that. My father was educated but an alcoholic,” he said. Larry wasn’t aware that his genetics put him at risk of becoming an alcoholic.  

Throughout the next 30 years of his life, Larry was a functioning alcoholic, able to hold down jobs like driving truck and trash collecting. However, during that time, he was in and out of jail for crimes like check fraud.

Larry (center left) with Helmsman Graduates

In 2011, he moved to York, got sober, and became a deacon at a local church. Then in 2015, an incident in his personal life caused him to start drinking again out of anger. “I started walking away from God again and trying to live life the way I wanted to,” he said.

Larry heard about the Bethesda Mission recovery program from a previous Helmsman program graduate. He came to the Men’s Mission in February 2017, and graduated from the Helmsman program in June 2018.  

He credits his time at Bethesda with helping him get reconnected with God. Now, instead of picking up a drink when things don’t work out how he wants them to, he trusts that God is in control. “I’ve learned not to worry and to keep my faith in God no matter what goes on in my personal life,” Larry said.

His relationships with our staff are different than those he’s had with counselors at other recovery programs he’s been in. “The thing that I love about Bethesda is all of the counselors have recovery stories,” he said. “They actually lived the life, so I can identify with them.”

His counselors’ stories inspired hope in Larry that he could turn his life around again. He hopes to become a drug and alcohol counselor one day to help others who are struggling with addiction.

“Larry is focused and hardworking,” Director of Client Aftercare Doug Barger said. “He puts his trust in God, but he knows he has to do the legwork to advance himself.”  

However rocky the road has been, Larry has a bright future ahead of him again. Larry has been taking classes at HACC and will graduate this week with a machinist certification. Join us in congratulating him! 

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