Another year is right around the corner.
What will 2017 bring for you?
I’m at that age that I find myself thinking too frequently about the life that is behind me, and the time ahead when I hope to do something that will make my kids proud of their old dad.
I would say that from the time I got into my mid 50s I started thinking more about my life and what I’ve done with it. Then, I naturally think about what I want to do with it from here into the future.
In my business it puts me very close to many non-profit groups, a lot of civic organizations that are all about doing good for others, and connects me to individuals who do good deeds all by themselves.
I like that since it constantly reminds me to think about others before myself.
I did a feature story a couple of months ago about an organization that is inspiring and as I head into 2017 it makes me want to do what I can with whatever resources God has given me to do the most good for others. I think most of you will agree that when you understand the satisfaction you feel when you do for others, without expecting anything in return, it is what God wants each of us to do with our lives.
The group is originally from the South Shore where they operate the New Orleans Mission. And now they are on the North Shore, having purchased the former K-Bar-K Youth Ranch for troubled teens and are turning it into a rehab center called Giving Hope Outreach.
But here is the incredible thing, the entire operation is free to anyone who needs help. They take no government or state assistance, and rely 100 percent on the giving from individuals and businesses. And when you hear their story you understand that their reliance on God has been greatly rewarded.
My story is about a 35ish-year-old man I know who has battled a severe drug addiction much of his life. He began shooting up the hardest drugs ever—things like heroin, crack cocaine, meth and more. And if you have interviewed as many experts in the field as I have you learn that shooting drugs into your veins only one time is all it takes to be hooked forever.
The high you apparently obtain from using drugs in that manner, said to be a great feeling for a short time, is something that an individual craves so greatly that they will do anything to do it again.
The young man I know had been hooked on drugs for years. He was so badly hooked that his body shut down in the way of strokes and seizures over the years. He had heart surgery and could not function in society for very long in a normal way. His life, for all intents and purposes, was almost over—all because of the drugs.
He had been in-and-out of expensive rehab centers. His parents spent every nickel they had trying to help their son. He would stop, but not for long, and he would always be back on the drugs.
When I interviewed the leaders of the Giving Hope Outreach, so impressed by such a center helping drug addicts in St. Tammany Parish, I thought about the friend I knew. I told his family about them.
If someone has a drug habit they only need to walk in the front door and the New Orleans Mission or Giving Hope Outreach accepts them with no questions asked. Help is immediately available at no cost to the individual. The only requirement is that they follow the rules of the center, which includes a heavy dose of Jesus Christ.
It has now been two months since this man went to the center. Not only is he clean, but he is apparently happy and helping others there. He even had a court case dropped by the judge because he is getting help. A pastor at the center went to court and spoke on his behalf and the progress he has made. The judge gladly let him go back to the Mission, and he is about to move to Lacombe since that is the next stop after someone has made it 60 days at the Mission.
The people who started the N.O. Mission, and now operate here in St. Tammany, are such inspirations to me. Several leaders made great fortunes in the business world, but now use it to run the mission and help others with drug problems. I hope you will send them a donation to help, and more than anything, use their work as a motivation for yourself in 2017.
Let’s make it a year we look for opportunities to use our lives, and all the resources God has so richly blessed most of us with, to help others.
To assist the New Orleans Mission and the North Shore Giving Hope Retreat you can mail a check to Giving Hope Retreat, 31294 Hwy. 190, Lacombe, La., 70445.
(Kevin Chiri can be reached at email@example.com)