Ron has seen many things in his life as a veteran of the United States Army. His family life growing up was full of change, pain, and mental health challenges. When Ron found his Clubhouse it made all the difference. He was finally home.
With his biological father out of the picture at a young age, Ron took to his stepfather. His father was an alcoholic, and his mother ended her relationship with Ron’s stepfather, which proved quite traumatic for Ron. “The hardest part was when I lost my stepfather. They broke up because he was stern and that is what I needed,” explained Ron. “I lost it after that; I rebelled.” Ron started hanging with the wrong crowd, and his grades began to slip. His peers were joining the Army at the young age of 18, so he decided to pursue that route as well.
Stationed in Germany from 1977-1980, Ron took part in field training and witnessed things he wishes he had never seen. Unfortunately, after seeing someone get severely injured and die in front of him, Ron began experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and severe anxiety when he returned home to Massachusetts. This is when Ron began to struggle. “It affected me, and I started drinking,” he shared. Then in 2001, Ron lost his mother, and a year later Ron also lost his wife, his beloved companion for 17 years. These tragedies gave Ron the courage to make change in his life. “So after that I had to rearrange life because I was self-medicating,” he explained.
Ron decided to stay in Haverhill and not go back to Boston. He started visiting the local veteran’s clinic, which informed him about this place people gather to discuss books and movies. Ron thought this would be a good opportunity to build community and decided to visit what he knows now as Vinfen‘s Haverhill Clubhouse. After his first visit and a tour of the Club, Ron knew he had found his people. “This is for me, the people. What it did for me was give me a place to come and contribute and have a purpose and help others,” Ron voiced. Ron also began attending Alcohol Anonymous meetings and attending a support group of other local Veterans.
Although Ron has faced his ups and downs, he knows he can always return to the Clubhouse and has a family there. “I feel like I don’t have to pull one over on someone. I can be honest with them, and I can be myself with my little quirks. We all have our little quirks,” he shared. Ron’s favorite part of the Clubhouse is the community he is building every time he visits. “I’m living in community, and I come over here for community, so I’m blessed.”
The holidays can be quite tough for Ron. This time of the year reminds him of who he has lost along the way and what he has been through. “Sometimes the holidays can be the toughest time of the season,” he revealed. “I come in here, and I realize I am not alone.” Although he has brothers in Boston and a sister in Florida, he doesn’t see them often due to distance, relationship differences, and his health. He chooses to spend the holidays with his Vinfen family. “It’s a home away from home,” Ron expressed.
Ron believes in the power of giving back and finding hope to get through the tough times. He is starting to visit the Clubhouse more often now so he can participate more. Ron aspires to start his own peer support group and teach people about recovery. He is passionate about cooking and wants to use his life experiences to help others. “I believe this is my mission as long as I am here,” Ron disclosed.
Ron is a man of service. He served our country, he serves others through volunteering and supporting, and he serves as an inspiration of perseverance. “It’s a condition of your heart when you give to others,” he described.
You can provide encouragement to Ron this season and support him as he continues to develop his purpose and community. You can be another reason Ron pushes through the tough times as he continues his journey of recovery.
Your gift of $25, $50, $100, or more will place a gift directly in the hands of those here at Vinfen who do not have the family or personal means to make the holidays special. Help Ron and others by celebrating their resiliency to life’s trails and tribulations.
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