Four men mark the first-ever graduating class from the Sober Living Center
Through the Bridge Street Mission, the men completed the program that helps them lead addiction-free lifestyles
WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Michael Kjos came to the Bridge Street Mission’s Sober Living Center last July. From where he was coming from, he didn’t know what to expect of the center, and of himself.
“When I came in here, where I was coming from, which was just a very bad cycle of homelessness, addiction, and things like that, I had no trust for things, for people for institutions,” said Kjos.
Fast-forward to the present day and Kjos is one of four men graduating from the center’s program, aimed at helping men going through struggles live an addiction-free lifestyle.
“This place didn’t just teach me that out of a book, but I literally experienced it personally over the last year,” said Kjos.
The program uses a christian worldview to help equip men with the tools to live in society outside of the center. Through the program, they dedicate themselves to a distinct schedule, something the executive director says is quite the commitment.
“This is not an easy program for someone who’s been experiencing addiction, especially, but even other dysfunction in their lives,” said Craig Vincent, the Executive Director of Bridge Street Mission.
Vincent says the motivation is strong for people who live at the center, but the challenge is real.
“It’s like someone who wants to be a Navy SEAL,” said Vincent. “Lots of people want to be a Navy SEAL, but not a lot of people finish that program.”
The men don’t work while they’re in the program. Scholarship money pays for them to live at the center. The program wants those in it to really dedicate themselves to the task at hand.
“I wouldn’t be able to sit here and with a straight face talk to you about all this stuff, knowing many, many people are going to hear this if I didn’t firmly believe in this,” said Kjos. “You’re talking to a guy who didn’t trust anybody. Absolutely hopeless. Absolutely in a place of despair. Didn’t like waking up in the morning. To someone who sees the world in an entirely different way.”
For Kjos, his vision of the world changed through a newfound faith.
“Doing it in a Christ-centered place where you learn who you are in Christ is what it’s all about,” said Kjos. “What is my identity? Is it that I’m an addict? Is it that I used to work on a railroad and now I’m homeless so I’m a failure? Is that my identity? And the answer to that is no. I have gifts given to me by God that I can use to help others.”
The graduates now take the skills and tools they learn ad re-enter society to start a life for themselves. With his new zeal for Christ and his confidence in what he’s learned, Kjos says he’ll always be appreciative for what the center gave him.
“They really established a trusting relationship with me. It felt safe,” said Kjos. “I’ll always be eternally grateful for this place.”
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