A little known place in Beaumont helps men struggling with alcohol and drug addiction get back on their feet. Today the H.O.W. Center received a national award. Vaughan Ploeger one of the employees at The H.O.W. center received the Audrey Nelson Award for Excellence in Community Development, in Washington, D.C.
The H.O.W. Center's mission is to provide a safe and structured living environment for men recovering from addiction while they gain the skills they need to live independently and successfully enabling them to be more productive members of the community.
Pete McElroy has been at The H.O.W. Center for 2 1/5 years and that is the same length of time he celebrates sobriety. He says, "I didn't actually know until I got here and got involved what my plight actually was; what I had been living through."
Before his alcohol addiction controlled his life, Pete was an engineer with a good job. Like many men he wondered how he ended up so low. He says, "I'd lost numerous jobs. I was ruining friendships. I was sick and I also didn't know that I was sick."
He says that first night was one of the most difficult nights of his life. "I began alcoholic DT's. I began to shake. I couldn't hold food down. I couldn't sleep. I was scared to death. I couldn't believe my life could have come to this."
But he also says The H.O.W. Center saved his life. "I didn't think anybody could feel the way I felt. I realized I wasn't alone. I had hope for the first time in a long time that I could turn my life around."
The "h" "o" "w" in The H.O.W. Center stands for honesty, open mindedness and willingness; traits each man must have to travel this path to rediscover life through recovery.
Executive Director of The H.O.W. Center, Daniel Jeans tells 12news, "Those people who do want to turn their lives around, that's who we focus on helping."
At full capacity the center has 27 men living there and part of that commitment is attending AA 12 step program meetings. Jeans also says, "And we also give them accountability, as far as men with a common purpose, to try to rebuild their lives through a 12 step fellowship and their relationship with God."
The men must pay their own way, so they can find a new sober way to live life. McElroy tells 12 news, "This place has saved my life. Bottom line."
McElroy is now is sponsoring three other men in the facility and mentoring them.
According to statistics, 66% of the men who stay at The H.O.W. Center for at least 60 days, are successful in maintaining their recovery and living independently with successful employment. Since opening in 1992 center has housed and provided services for more than 4,000 men.