By Steve Lestarjette
By their own admission, they are either at rock bottom or on their way there. Most are addicted to drugs or alcohol; a few are dealing with anxiety issues, overeating disorders, depression, or other dependencies that rob them of purpose and health.
By the time they arrive at Project Hope, many have tried every program and scheme within reach in a futile effort to change the altitude of their lives and restore a sense of personal dignity.
Project Hope is a Bible-based, tough love ministry of CT Church, located on Almeda Genoa Road, Houston. Its sole purpose is to give a new beginning to individuals who have lost all hope for themselves.
For one year, minimum, Project Hope ‘students’ live a very controlled, disciplined lifestyle in a family setting. Women live together in a house near CT Church; men live in a home in the Gulfgate area.
Three days a week, these students-seeking-change wake at 6 a.m. and follow a finely prescribed plan: group prayer, followed by personal devotions, breakfast and chores. From 9-11 a.m., they attend class, studying a curriculum that helps them confront personal issues at the root of their addictions with biblical truth. After class comes chapel, then lunch.
The afternoon is spent in the craft shop where men and women work together as a team to manufacture a few quality products, such as crosses made of wood and adorned with metal nails. These are sold at community fundraisers to help underwrite program expenses.
The evenings include dinner, chores, study hall, and personal time before “lights out” at 9:30.
Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays will see most outside area businesses — a WalMart, perhaps — displaying their products for sell.
Sundays include church services. Students visit a variety of churches by invitation, and tell their very personal stories of addiction and the long road to recovery and wholeness.
There is very little “student recruitment.” Admissions Officer Rourk Dymond says people with problems find Project Hope in a variety of ways.
“Many see us selling crosses outside a store and stop by to ask questions. We tell them we believe the only way to be truly free of addiction is to deal with the issues that created the need in the first place. What’s needed is a change of heart through the salvation of Jesus Christ.”
Many join the program seeking a religious awakening, but not all. Michael Vecchio, program director, says, “They’ve tried everything else to get sober. Why not this?”
And because students live in a family setting with others of a similar mindset, in an atmosphere where drugs are not accessible, where the daily message reinforces the truth of God’s love and support, wonderful things happen.
“We see lives transformed,” Dymond says. “We see people who came thinking they had no value learn to forgive themselves and put their trust in God. We see relationships restored and families reunited.”
One student came in his mid fifties, an emergency room doctor. When his wife left and filed for divorce, he crumbled. Depression led to drugs. Before long, drugs had stolen his family, possessions and career, even his identity.
Other students are just out of high school. Others never made it past the sixth grade. Some are “second generation” druggies, children of addicts who never got a fair chance at a normal life.
All have left jobs or families – everything — to get help.
No matter where they’ve been, Project Hope accepts them. In time, a student who will “stick with the program has a good chance to see health come back, skills come back, dreams come back,” Vecchio says.
Project Hope takes no federal or state funds, and requires no set entry or enrollment fee. It raises its own support.
And yet, the impact of this one program — measured through lives recovered, not discarded — proves this is a program that lives up to its name.