Aeric's Fund

$14,010 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 418 people in 7 months
Family and Friends,
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.

Thank you!!
Kaitlyn Smith

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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Friends and Family,

It’s been a while! Aeric recently completed his treatment at Johns Hopkins Broadway Center for Addiction and concluded his stay at the Helping Up Mission in Baltimore City. We are grateful to each program and for their seamless partnership because they have been integral stepping stones into this new chapter, which is Aeric continuing his recovery with the support of family.
When Aeric attended an AA meeting in Florida, group members suggested he try to attend 90 meetings during his first 90 days of recovery. He told me he was worried about how he would pay for two months of a halfway house after he left the 28-day rehab. So, I started the Gofundme account to help with rent and committed to helping Aeric through 90 days of recovery.
Early on at the halfway house in Florida, I remember Aeric asked my opinion on spending about $120 on new clothes and a pair of shoes. He said the clothes he had were given or sold to him by other homeless people, and he didn’t feel like himself in them. I thought it was important he felt like himself during recovery, so I was supportive. And since then, with your support, Aeric has been able to reclaim important pieces of his life, like his landscaping equipment and a scooter for transportation.
Next Monday will be 8 months since Aeric flew to Florida for inpatient detox. I had no idea what I was signing up for, but since then I’ve learned a lot about how difficult and complex recovery can be, especially without insurance. The last of the 12 steps, as outlined by AA, is to share the benefits of recovering from addiction with others struggling. So, this spring, I’ll be launching www.AAdvocate.org and with Aeric’s help, we’ll share our experiences and resources to help others in their recovery. Stay tuned for more on that but, for now, thank you for your support, which has been the most important resource and the main reason we have a platform to help others.

“When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” – Abraham Lincoln
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Friends and Family,

Lisa Robinson did a follow-up story on me and Aeric that airs tonight at 11pm on WBAL-TV. I met Lisa on at 4pm on July 26, and not a second too soon because I needed some guidance. I knew I wanted to bring Aeric back to Baltimore so he’d have more support, but we were having trouble finding a program that he could afford. A few days later, Lisa connected us with Johns Hopkins Broadway Center for Addiction and by August he was enrolled in their 90-day intensive outpatient program, which was exactly the type of comprehensive support he needed to continue his recovery. Since then, she’s checked in on us frequently and offered resources where she could; recently she introduced us to “Lawyer in the Library” at Enoch Pratt in West Baltimore and District Court Self Help Resource Center, offering free walk- in legal council since September. I’ve realized that helping is part of her character and she loves connecting people she meets in her travels. She sees a lot as a reporter in Baltimore City but she’s also done a lot, bringing awareness to worthy causes and attention to resources that are available for people in need. It’s a pleasure to know someone who uses her role as journalist as a platform to spark change. Tune into WBalt-TV tonight at 11pm or livestream from www.wbaltv.com. As always, Aeric and I are grateful for your support. Links to Lisa’s resources are below, as well as her thoughts on our story:





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Friends and family: 

I saw a segment on 60 Minutes in August about the Cook County Jail, one of the largest and most populated jails in the U.S., and the programs that Sheriff Tom Dart is implementing to help inmates get out of jail... and stay out. Among these programs are cooking and photography classes, designed to teach skills and broaden horizons. But to rehabilitate the "repeat offenders" - the folks who seemed to be repeating their mistakes and returning to jail- he decided to offer chess lessons. Sheriff Dart said many of these people were only thinking one move out, like you do in Checkers. But in Chess you have to strategize and plan your moves by considering possible variables and how your decision will affect you 4 and 5 moves out. Sheriff Dart said many inmates have told him they've never thought like that before...about how their moves might affect them down the road. I thought the story really demonstrated the difference between "Rehab" and Rehabilitation. And the program seems to be helping in Cook County as well.

So, with Aeric less than a month out from the conclusion of his 90- day program at John's Hopkins, he is trying to map out his next few moves and I'm helping to assess his options. Instead of buying another old truck, which could be unsafe or unreliable and costly, we decided to save the money and buy a less expensive, temporary alternative for transportation. Aeric plans to find local employment for the winter and start to establish credit while he saves some money for a better truck. Aeric still plans to do landscaping on the weekends in the springtime, but if you're local and currently seeking a seasonal or part time employee [and looking to be part of a rehabilitation] please email us at aericsfund@gmail.com.

And now an update from Aeric:

This is Aeric. I wanted to give and update on my progress with recovery and navigating life during my last month in my program. If you didn't know, I was recently in a car accident with the truck that I worked so hard to get running again, registered and insured. I was doing active work for people following my progress and also friends and family. It felt really good to be working and earning money. Honestly, I was really depressed about losing my truck, but I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason and Kait is also. I believe that there is a better truck out there waiting for me because God is good all the time, but I still needed a way to get around so I could have a job.

Instead of buying another old truck, Kait and I decided on a scooter that I could use while I save up some more money, since we want to keep what we have left for upcoming expenses when I finish my program. Today I purchased the scooter and I am very excited about the next steps in my recovery. I will be completing my 90 day program in 30 days and I will be hopefully getting my own place also. Kait is working with me to establish some credit so I can maybe finance a truck and someday a house of my own, which is a dream. A major step right now is to find employment, so I am reaching out to my supporters for help finding a job. I'm still hoping to be doing landscaping in the spring, at least on weekends, but for now if anyone has a business and is looking for help...I'm your guy for the job! If you know anyone who is hiring, please send us an email to aericsfund@gmail.com. I am skilled at many things including auto repair and construction. I am hardworking and I want to learn so I hope to hear from you soon. Thank you for following and supporting us! 

God bless You,

Kait and Aeric
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Friends and Family,

This post is dedicated to struggle.

Aeric reminded me recently that struggle is a good thing. It means you're trying for something and making progress against and in spite of adversity. He said everybody struggles Kait, and he's right... but it certainly doesn't feel like a good thing while you're struggling. We've seen a lot of struggle in the news recently and for me and Aeric, the past two weeks have been a struggle as we feel
we've taken two steps forward and one major step back. So now we need your support more than ever.

In the past two weeks, Aeric has made a few major strides towards independence and sustainable employment. One major barrier had been transportation. So recently we used some of the donation money to make his old truck drivable; we replaced the battery that had been stolen, adjusted the alignment and brought the registration and liability insurance current. Though his truck still had major body damage and a broken headlight, having him on wheels opened the door for part time work as he completes his 90 day program. He did some landscaping work for me and a few neighbors and we were both excited that he was building his confidence while earning some much needed cash! Then several days went by since Saturday and I hadn't heard from Aeric. His phone was off so I called the mission a few times looking for him, and though we promised to always give each other the benefit of the doubt, I was worried.

Aeric finally called yesterday with sad news. He had had a seizure while driving and totaled his truck, but fortunately no one else was hurt. Aeric had spent three days in the hospital and his toxicology and discharge paperwork confirmed he was not impaired while driving. The doctors are not sure why he suffered a seizure, but we're glad that it didn't happen on the highway... and I'm secretly happy that now there's a good reason to get him into a safer vehicle. Perhaps it was another example of divine intervention in our story, but now we're on the hunt for a safe truck we can afford with his remaining funds. Whether you can help with supportive words or finding a truck, we'll take whatever we can get! We're looking for something with a clean Carfax report, in good working condition, for $3,000 or less. Please email Aericsfund@gmail.com with any leads or encouragement. Thanks in advance: We hope you realize you're not just helping Aeric, you're helping others who are struggling find the courage to keep pressing forward, especially when it's hard.

Love always,
Kaitlyn and Aeric
This is his truck before the accident ...
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$14,010 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 418 people in 7 months
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