A drug and alcohol addiction recovery program helped turn their lives around, but it was the connections made within the program that encouraged two men to give back to their community through the program that uplifted them.
Timothy Pemberton was an addict whose vices caused him to become involved in adverse situations. Twelve years ago, he decided to seek help from the Salvation Army. Now, he and his wife run the Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Center in Santa Monica, a program, he said, that saved him.
The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center helps addicts become sober and turn their lives around. The program has a 34% graduation rate, nearly triple that of similar programs. Pemberton was a graduate before becoming a Salvation Army lieutenant.
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"You have to be completely ready to give up your own self-will, because that's what addiction is--it's self-will run riot,” Pemberton said.
Scott Cha, one of the newest graduates of the program, began connecting with Pemberton last year during the bi-weekly sermons he gave. Cha said Pemberton, a man who also had to overcome the hardships of addiction, taught him how to persevere during the toughest times in his life.
Cha said he entered the recovery program as a "broken" man who had lost faith in God and himself. He said the love and structure provided by the Christian-based organization helped him reclaim his life.
"God just made it all work. It changed my personality and my character--Something kicked in, something kicked in," Cha said.
Cha said it was his mother who encouraged him to enter the program, where addicts are given daily tasks, like sorting through donated clothes, to begin the process of a life focused on something else.
Cha said his work ethic was rebuilt through Work Therapy Assignment, an element of the Salvation Army’s recovery program that emphasizes hard work and consistency. He said it reintroduced routine and good habits to aid toward his sobriety and well being.
"We teach the guys how to show up for work, how to get up in the morning, when to eat breakfast, when to have lunch, when to have dinner. Once you've done that for six months, it's a new way of living," Pemberton said.
Although the Salvation Army is a christian-based organization, Pemberton said faith is not a requirement for program participation. He said many atheists have also graduated. For Cha, however, faith and discipline was the key to his transformation.
Cha is now involved with charitable work and serves those who are experiencing homelessness. His daily job at the Salvation Army is fixing donated computers and electronics.
"It's a sense of accomplishment," Cha said. "Though recovery for an alcoholic is a lifetime practice and can never be measured by day-to-day accomplishments, the Santa Monica Salvation Army gave me the hope to strive for tomorrow."
Donating items to the Salvation Army supports the organization's adult rehabilitation center, which is open to men and women. For more information, visit their website or any local office.