Recently, something happened to me that touched my heart and felt a little kismet. I want to share this story with you in the hopes that you can join me in helping someone special return to a drug-free life.
As many of you know, I live in Baltimore; it's a great city, but a city nevertheless. Several weeks ago, through my own negligence, my purse was stolen from my property: A relatively new leather bag, matching wallet, new sunglasses, credit cards, cash, driver’s license, ipad and all of my business receipts from previous weeks. Devastated, I began the process of cancelling cards, going to the DMV, and vowing to be more mindful... and also never spend good money on a purse again. Several days later, my roommate and I were walking down our street to a friend’s surprise party when I saw a man in a tattered, dirty white t-shirt and jeans hustling toward us, head down…. carrying my purse! I offered the man money to buy it, which he politely declined and insisted he had to return it to a lady named Kaitlyn, who lived up the street. I told him I was that lady, and he melted down, exhausted, saying he found it in an alley near Upton Market, several miles from my house in an unsavory part of town. He told me he found my address on an electric bill and he wanted to return my purse because someone had recently stolen his sleeping bag from the abandoned house where he was staying and he could only imagine my frustration as he had felt the same way. My purse was in great shape, and had all of its contents, minus the cash, credit cards and electronics.
A friend and I gave Aeric a sleeping bag, flashlight, some clothes, a new backpack and a ride home since he had walked several miles to my house. On the ride back he told me that he was addicted to heroine. He had, at one point, had his own business as a landscaper, but a car accident left him with a serious back injury then serious pain killers and lost income lead him to heroin addiction, a story we have all heard before. He told me he had a daughter, and really wanted to get clean. He knew of a facility in Florida, but did not have the means to get there. When we dropped him off, I gave him my number and told him that if he ever wanted to go to that facility, I would buy the plane ticket as a thank-you for returning my purse.
Several days later, on a borrowed phone, he called to say he had contacted the rehab facility in Florida and they had a space for him, if he could get there. I called the facility to verify what Aeric told me and Intake confirmed that they were prepared to pick him up from the airport and begin treatment, if Aeric could get there. So, the day after Father’s Day, I picked Aeric up and drove him to BWI airport with a one way ticket to Ft. Myers.
That was several weeks ago and since then Aeric and I have developed one of those unexpected friendships you see on YouTube between a cat and a duck. He calls me every day with an update on his progress and we talk about what he's going through. He voluntarily signed a release allowing me to call and speak to his doctors and counsellors. Since the treatment program he is in has a duration of 28 days, he will be transitioning to a half-way house this week. This new facility will cost $450 a month, and Aeric will need to be there at least two months. It is near the rehab facility so he can continue to see his doctors. Over the next few months, Aeric will be given the guidance and resources to help plan his next phase of “clean living.”
Aeric didn’t steal my purse. I had been warned by friends that this could be a scam where people try to get more money from you. Last week I was contacted by a Baltimore Detective stating they had made an arrest of a person who had a record of stealing, and among the belongings of other victims, my credit cards and id were found in his residence.
I believe this encounter happened for a reason and I want to help this gentleman. Aeric is smart, well spoken, and from what I can see, he desperately wants to get clean and start over. In his own words, he's "from the streets," and doesn't really have any resources So, that's why I am reaching out to my friends and family for help. For now, I would like to raise $2,000 to cover Aeric for the next two months at a half-way house in Florida. I am sure there will be other expenses along the way, including getting him established once he is done with his treatment. I will be in charge of the money, and will pay bills for Aeric directly. He will not have access to any money. I will also be happy to update donors as to his progress. Please help me help Aeric, and let the end to this story be one of success. Along with your prayers, please consider making a donation so that this man can change his course.
I would love nothing more than to call Aeric in a few days to tell him the funds are available from people who care and want Aeric to pay it forward however he can. And he will.
p.s. I've updated the goal amount just because if people are still willing to help Aeric, he literally has nothing. So, after paying rent at the halfway house, he'll need to get back to Maryland, get a phone, figure out transportation to work and tuition for school, etc. I'm creating a Facebook page so those interested can follow his story and where the funds are going. Thanks again!
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- Kaitlyn Smith
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