The worst period of Fred’s life ended “like a 100-mile-an-hour hit into the wall.”
He was the father of four, a gifted artist, a successful business owner and a trusted employee. He was also stealing from his employer to support his $1,500-a-day addiction to cocaine and oxycontin. “The habit took over,” Fred explains. When confronted about his suspicious activity, he admitted to everything. “I wanted to get caught because that way I knew I could stop.”
By the time Fred was sentenced to house arrest and probation, he was already clean. He had found satisfaction in community work and he was devoted to turning his life around. All he had needed was a little help.
“United Way came in when things first started to fall apart,” remembers Fred. A social worker had connected him to United Way and from there he found a methadone program and job-search assistance. It wasn’t much, but it was enough. “I had the support of my family. That was the biggest thing, so with United Way, that little bit of help at the beginning, that was all I needed.”
Fred’s United Way connection came full circle when he started working at Hadrian Manufacturing, a company he describes as having “amazing community spirit.”
When Fred had the chance to give to the Hadrian workplace campaign for United Way, he said to himself, “This is a game changer. They did a lot for me when I needed it, so I’m going to donate.”
He gave $2,400 and told his surprised colleagues, “You have no idea what these guys did for me. It was the factor that someone showed they cared enough to help. I’m going to donate every year. If I can help one person change their life, that’s good enough for me.”
When children and adults with intellectual disabilities have an opportunity to participate in programs, “its almost like there’s a seed that’s planted, and it gets nourished by the interactions with their peers, program facilitators, and community as a whole”.