The Rapidian

Tom Finds Hope at Guiding Light

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

One of the most important commodities afforded to Guiding Light's clients is hope -- hope that they can and will find a way out of the darkness and into the light again.
Underwriting support from:

About Guiding Light

Founded in 1929 as the West Fulton St. Mission, Guiding Light has grown into a robust recovery and re-engagement community designed to help those living at society’s margins fulfill their God-given potential. The nonprofit has been building on a near century of compassion and celebrated 90 years of serving Grand Rapids in 2019. Through its Back to Work, Recovery and Iron House programs, Guiding Light works with men struggling with addiction and homelessness to return to society. Since 2017, Guiding Light has earned a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, which underscores our commitment to accountability and transparency. For more information, visit guidinglightworks.org.

Tom has been a client at Guiding Light for three months. He is married and a father of five children, all between the ages of 18-25. Tom found his way to Guiding Light after losing a job he had held on to for over 20 years and numerous failed attempts at sobriety through various short-term stays in detox facilities. He came to a point where he realized he was “sick and tired of being sick and tired” and decided he needed a long-term solution to his decades long struggle with alcoholism.

Tom’s experience at Guiding Light has been a very humbling experience and he feels that he is benefiting from the regimented schedule of day-to-day life. Men living at 255 Division Avenue are expected to take care of themselves and the facility, and everyone is required to help out with cleaning and cooking. This contrasts sharply with Tom’s experience at another similar program, where the importance of personal responsibility was rarely, if ever, stressed.

“When I was there we didn’t do anything. We didn’t clean, we didn’t help in the kitchen, we didn’t have to do anything but sit and study. As opposed to here where…you know, I’m 50 years old with 30 years of experience in transportation and I’m scrubbing toilets in the morning and mopping the floors. I think it’s so important…it humbles you…I wouldn’t call it military style but they bring you down a level and then build you back up, and I think that’s great.”

Tom appreciates the opportunity to take advantage of the resources available to himself and his peers at Guiding Light. Beyond being given three square meals a day, a bed, and safe shelter from the chaotic world they came from, Guiding Light gives men access to spiritual guides, professional counselors and dedicated staff members. “I know it’s not cheap to house us, from life coaches to therapists to spiritual directors to the three vans in the parking lot…I went and filled the vans up the other day and you’re swiping somebody else’s credit card. That costs real money…and where does that come from? It’s amazing when you think about what we get and what it costs us, you know cleaning a few toilets in exchange for all of this.”

Tom had access to a wide range of other substance-abuse treatment programs across the state before ultimately deciding to come here. It was the medical staff at the Pine Rest detox clinic who recommended Tom come to Guiding Light for long-term treatment for his alcoholism due to our statistically significant rates of success relative to anywhere else. 77% of men who come through Guiding Light, find employment, and move to Iron House, our sober living community in Kentwood, will achieve long-term sobriety. This is in stark contrast to a 2007 study conducted by the social-research journal, Evaluation Review, showing on average that only 33% of those who attempt to get sober can maintain it for a year or longer.

One of the most important commodities afforded to our clients, we believe, is hope. Many of the men that come through our doors are broken and have gotten to a point in their lives where they cannot even begin to see a way out of the wilderness. One of the most powerful aspects of programming at Guiding Light is that we give men the space to heal mentally, physically, and most importantly, spiritually.

It’s donors like you that help provide these men with the hope that they can and will find a way out of the darkness and into the light again. In return, we require each man to bring real honesty, determination and a willingness to better themselves.

Guiding Light programming is based on action and personal responsibility. With your help, we can provide not just food and shelter, but the tools and structure each man needs to become employed and self-sufficient members of our community again.

For men like Tom, Guiding Light is a safe place for him to get his life back on track. Tom’s relationship with his family has never been better and he has true hope for his future.

When it comes to tackling the issues of homelessness, unemployment and addiction head on, you have stood right beside us. Thank you for investing in us and in the men that come to Guiding Light. Thank you for showing each man that they are worthy of God’s grace, no matter how broken, hopeless and lost they are.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.

Browse