“There, but for the grace of God, go I.” That is the answer Don gave when asked why he volunteers at KARM Stores in Oak Ridge. He has been a weekly regular volunteer at the Oak Ridge location for a year.
Don’s story begins three decades before he began volunteering for KARM. He has been in 12-step recovery for his drug and alcohol addictions for 31 years. Years ago, he was only a few bad decisions away from becoming just another homeless statistic.
Eventually, the faith of his childhood moved him to seek help for his addiction instead of making those last few bad decisions. Still early in his recovery journey, Don felt an empty spot in his spirit and called an old friend. The friend invited Don to church and he began to walk with Christ again.
“I owe all my success to God’s grace in my life, the support I receive from my friends, and the recovery programs. Thanks to my relationship with God… and being active in 12-step recovery, I was able to start my life over and build a career.“
Upon retirement, Don’s financial advisor warned him to plan his time more than his finances. Armed with that advice, Don prayed for God to lead him. The first place that came to mind was KARM Stores in Oak Ridge.
A Critical Moment
KARM holds a special place in Don’s life because of one special moment.
Don’s older brother also suffered from addiction, just like Don. About 15 years ago, Don’s brother ended up at KARM after a family dispute. Don’s brother was a violent alcoholic who moved between KARM and homeless camps. One night Don’s brother was involved in a confrontation that escalated out of control and Don’s brother was killed.
What touched Don so much was, at the small graveside funeral, two women from the mission who had attempted to help Don’s brother were among the few attendees. “They came out of respect and to comfort my mother. I will never forget that moment.”
Following God’s Lead to Volunteer
Before retirement Don spent time in prayer asking God how he could support a Christian ministry while also supporting the recovery community. KARM Stores was that place!
“I didn’t take me long to realize that I was getting so much more from KARM than they were getting from me. Initially I was just an old retired guy looking for something to keep me busy, but that changed quick. I have so much love for the young people I support in the Oak Ridge store. The KARM Stores group keeps me feeling young and has resulted in my walk becoming so much closer with God. What a blessing it is to be led to support this wonderful store.”