Many who struggle with addiction die or go to prison. Yet, sometimes miracles occur. These are the stories of those miracles

Marcus Clark Talks About Getting Sober at The Solution

Man, so I’m going to talk about a place that doesn’t exist anymore, which makes me a little teary-eyed. I really am grateful for the Solutions. And if anyone listens to this, if they do, I don’t know if they do, right? Or if they will. But for the people who actually listen to this that are not like me, who have experience with Solutions, but for people who don’t have any idea about Solutions, man, there are stories on stories, on stories, on stories, about the people. And I think that has a greater impact than you can actually know unless you can experience it. But the people who have touched my life who were Solutions’ alumni or our Solutions’ alumni, but lived at Solutions, the list is…I couldn’t name all the people in 20 minutes, probably. I mean, Erica, Jimmy my sponsor, Eric, Donald. Like the people who have probably had the biggest impact on my life are people who went through Solutions and stayed sober as a result.

And they can tell you stories on stories. My favorite story is the Erika’s story about she had to make an amends and she needed to make amends to Starbucks for stealing one of their umbrellas. And she goes to the house manager, Billy Block. And she’s like, “I need to make amends to the Starbucks”. And he’s like, “For what?” And she’s like, “For taking their umbrella, do you mind if I borrow the van?” And he’s like, “Not only can you borrow the van? I will take you”. Because he wanted to watch her make this amends. So, they take the Solution’s vans. They load this umbrella from Starbucks into the van and they drive to the Starbucks on 16th street, Bethany, and she’s like, “Hey. So as a result of me getting sober through this program, I have to make amends for the things that I’ve done wrong.

And I took your umbrella.” And the girl standing there, of course she’s not the manager that was there and she’s just staring at her and she’s like, “So I have your umbrella”. They already replaced them. She’s like, “Here’s your umbrella back? What can I do to make it right?” And the girl’s just looking at her like, and she looks at it and she’s like, “Did you also take the ashtrays?” And Eric was like, “No, I didn’t take the ashtrays. I just took the umbrella”. But that list goes on and on forever. The people who have touched my life that have been through Solutions, I will be grateful for the people who I’d never met, who I know stories of that came through that place. I mean, I ended up at solutions honestly to truth because my sponsor told me to go because he went to Solutions and he lived down the street from Solutions and he paid my rent and I get to Solutions and I’m in the front, I live in the front house.

And I remember at the time I’m six months sober, when I get to Solutions, I’ve never sponsored a dude, never had a service commitment because I couldn’t. At the time I got my first home group, 711 unloading chairs. Because I lived there and I would take 150 chairs every week. And I’ll unload them from the thing in the back. The whatever you call it in your yard where you store chairs. Right? The shed. I go to the shed and I would unload the chairs onto this little car that fit about 20 chairs. And I would wheel those chairs about 45 yards from there to the grass field. And the grass has to be green. You know that, you water the grass, the grass stays green at the Solutions. That is part the white picket fence and the green grass.

That’s the Solutions, right? So you feel like at home and it starts to feel like home after a while. You live there and it literally starts to feel like your home. And I would wheel those 20 chairs at a time and probably take me 35, 45 minutes, set up the meeting, everybody come have the meeting for an hour, and of course they leave without putting up their chairs, and then I would spend 35, 45 minutes taking those chairs, 20 chairs at a time back. And it taught me a bunch. It showed me how to live life. I remember getting into Solutions and I never had access to meetings all the time. Like there were three to five meetings every single day, right next to where I lived at. So, I would literally walk from my room when I didn’t have anything to do and I didn’t know what to do with my hands at the time. Because I was brand new sober, and I would walk from my room to Solutions. To the meeting hall and I would sit in the meeting hall and I’d go to as many meetings as I could.

And I would probably in my first 90 days at Solutions did 20 meetings a week because I didn’t know what to do. Saturday and Sunday, I didn’t have friends, I didn’t know anybody. All my friends were built in or a hundred people, 80 people, something like that that lived there. Most of my friends lived there. It was like a vacation. I would just take a trip to go hang out with my buddies by going to the next room and go hang out with some dudes. That was the life for me at that time.

And I learned a lot. That place gave me a lot. They let me get $400 to handle rent. And because I sponsor dudes and I had service commitments and I was trying to stay sober, they never once said anything. I think they put literally one time I’m not lying. I was $400 behind on rent. And I think they pulled me in one time to ask me about my fees because they knew every time that I did my best to try. I always gave them my check, he gave me a little money for cigarettes and I ate breakfast there and I ate dinner there. Every single day, seven days a week. And if I had $10 to get some McDonald’s, it was like, that was a luxury at the time for me. And I don’t know. That kitchen room felt like a resort. Literally.

That little kitchen room, felt like a resort to me. Because I was grateful. I was grateful to have a door to open and close for the first time. And I can’t even remember how many years. I literally could not remember having a key in a door to my room and a door to the front, to the house and I could open and close a door. Bloom. I was like, “I can close this door and be by myself. This is cool”. And I just… My ID still says 4210 North Longview. Still know the address. Nine years later. I got sober 2011 and I still… If that doesn’t give somebody the true implication of what this place means… Oh man, you don’t believe me?

4210 North Longview to this day. I will never change that. Hey, it’s a reminder. It’s a big reminder for where I have come from. And B I love that place. That place saved my life. Honestly. If I did not follow the [inaudible 00:07:58], If I did not go to Salvation Army and then go to Solutions, I would not be sober. I sponsored my first dude because I didn’t want to get kicked out. I saw a dude get kicked out my first day for not calling a sponsor and not doing meetings and not… Because they give you enough rope to hang yourself. Literally, they tell you that when you check in and I saw what happened when you didn’t do it. So, I was in this rush to get my first sponsee and I got my first sponsee and my first service commitment. And I chaired my first meeting there.

I closed and opened my first door in years. I got my first key. I did my first meditation outside of treatment there. I made my first friends there. I did so many first in that place. That place changed my life. It’s a place that I’m sad that the Solution doesn’t exist, but I’m grateful that the Hope House in the new Solutions exist because I…Solutions, honestly, in my opinion, and my opinion is jaded, but I’m going to give you my opinion. My opinion is that Solutions produce some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life. People who genuinely care, people who know what it’s like to receive a helping hand. And I think everybody that showed up at the Solutions was in a similar position in the sense that they had nowhere else to go and the Solution opened the door to them.

I think that’s kind of the thing with Solutions’ people. One, Solutions people are so giving, is you’re required to. You get a strike for not getting strikes, right? They make you do dishes. You got to learn to wash dishes and help other people, take out the trash, water the grass, which was my first chore. God’s in the dishes. I had to water the grass and I actually liked the watering the grass. If you were the grass watering dude, you were like the coolest chore guy. And I would water the grass right on 4210 North Longview because I was in the front building and I would water that grass every single week. And I got that chore and I think they kind of picked because it’s supposed to rotate. But I think if you wanted at the grass really good, you got to stick with that chore.

And, and even when I would get a strike, it would be like, go take out the trash. And when you move in, the person that takes you around to show you everything… Man, it’s making me remember. Is always a resident. They always grab a resident. You go in, you do your little intake, and as soon as you walk out, they’re like, “Hey, there’s somebody walking by always”. There’s always somebody that lives there walking by and they grab you. And then they take you. They show you the laundry room, they show you the donation closet, they tell you about breakfast, they show you the strike list, they show you the meeting hall and then they show you… They give you the breakfast times and they show you the list with all the names on it. I remember that. I forgot about that.

That’s been a long time and I took some shoes that you gave me. I still have those shoes. You donated them. They were like some new balance rock climbing shoes that I still have aware of his trail shoes, they’re trial shoes. I don’t know why he donated them, but I remember you donate them. And I remember… I’ll say a story. I remember ever seen his guy in a long time. This guy gets out of prison like 20 years. And in our meeting hall, we have a TV, right? There’s a TV there and it’s got the cable box with all the channels. That’s the one place that has cable. Right? And I remember he got out of prison and I’m sitting in there eating, and this is just the Solution’s way, right? If somebody needs help you help. And I’m sitting in there eating, and this guy comes in and he like looks at the remote and he looks at the TV and he like looks at me and he staring and I’m like, “What’s up, man?”

He’s like, “I don’t know how to work this”. And I’m like, “What?” And he’s like, “They didn’t have this when I went to prison”. And I taught a dude that was like twice my age at the time, how to work a television. Because he had never used a cable box. When he went in prison, it was just like TV channels change. As crazy to think about that kind of stuff. And I don’t know. I guess I’ll wrap it up with saying that… Oh man, it makes me tear up. If you don’t know if Solutions is a good place, it’s a great place. It’s a place where first happens, where people learn to communicate and help each other, a place where you feel safe and protected and loved and cared about. A place where you’re taught accountability, a place where you get to turn yourself with the help of other men.

You get to turn yourself into the person that you’re going to become in the future. It’s crazy to think about. I know everybody who’s ever been at Solutions. I know people start at Solutions and I’ve met a day in my life. I know stories on top of stories on top of stories on top I’m nine years sober. So, the people that are telling me these stories are 20 years sober and they’re still at 20 years sober telling stories of the Solutions in their mansions. I’m not even joking. They live in houses that are… I was a homeless, hope to die, drug addict who’d never accomplished anything and the only degree I had was a prison degree and I’m sitting in their house. That’s amazing with their kids and their wife in their cars. And they’re telling me stories about when they got sober at Solutions. They weren’t companies and their stories are about solutions.

That’s what happens. You produce business owners. It produces doctors, lawyers, it produces parents, it produces brothers and produces sisters, it produces moms, it produces real citizens. And that’s the truth of the Solution like, that place produces some of the best members of society, drug addict, or non-drug addict. It produces real people. I think every person would benefit from going to Solutions. Even though we don’t accept anybody. But if we did you had a kid that just didn’t listen, Solutions could really show them their lives. There’s something cathartic about watering grass and reaching your hand out to somebody else. And it’s almost built into the culture. Like you have to. You know you get there because of the people helping you, that you have to extend that same courtesy. So weird to think about that. You don’t think about it because it’s so normal for our culture and the Solutions, all the people who graduated from the Solutions. And it’s also the truth and like the Solutions need you to do anything almost everyone’s like, “Yeah, cool. What do we need to do? Where do you need me to show up at? I’ll be there”. There are sober livings across the Arizona who couldn’t get an alumni show up in the Solution gates. Hundreds of people to show up whenever they need their help. So, surely grateful of Solutions and thank you for everything you’ve done for me. And I hope I continue to give back.