Organization that helps others needs a helping hand - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Organization that helps others needs a helping hand

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

November 11, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The economy isn't only hitting you hard. It's hurting organizations whose sole goal is to help others.

Agape Recovery Outreach helps people overcome substance abuse. Many clients turned to drugs or alcohol after losing their jobs or homes. The organization is now struggling to stay open.

Since Agape opened their doors, they've helped about 700 people conquer their addictions. But as times get harder, it'll be harder to build upon that number.  

Every chance he gets, Tommy Robinson heads to the pulpit to pray. His rugged, troubled journey to faith started years ago. "I've been drinking since I was 9 years old and I stopped at the age of 54," said Robinson.

That adds up to 45 years of drinking day and night. "Liquor," said Robinson, "probably about a gallon a day."

It eventually led him to Agape Recovery Outreach in Albany for help. "When I was out there drinking liquor, it seemed like I wasn't going to make it and when I came here I had nothing," said Robinson.

"Agape is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in house residential program," said Agape Program Director Lawrence Bryant.

Lawrence Bryant opened Agape eight years ago when he saw a need to help alcohol and drug addicts. "God led me to move on this," said Bryant. But right now Bryant needs help.

"We're not asking for a handout, but we really need a hand," said Bryant.

It takes about $12,000 a month to run Agape. Between meals, transportation costs and utility bills, it's rough. "Right now we're running on a shoe string budget," said Bryant.

They had to cut back on the number of indigent cases. Before, they would serve as many as 30 people.  Now, it's down to fourteen who can pay to stay and it's at a time when the economy has more people turning to their addictions to cope.

"A lot of them are turning more to alcohol and drugs. They're medicating their pains because they can't find gainful employment," said Bryant. That's why Bryant says Agape is needed and he's hopeful for financial help to continue his vision in Southwest Georgia.

"I'm hoping that there will be a change and that an angel will show up at the door and say we're going to take care of this for you but it's not happening. We're not giving up hope," said Bryant.

If it weren't for that hope, Robinson says his path would be different. "I would be down there, dead," said Robinson pointing to the ground.

He's now 3 years sober and a house parent at Agape, watching over others. He's now holding on to a prayer instead of a drink.

Agape hopes to continue helping people like Tommy who is just one of their success stories. But for the first time, high utility bills forced them to shut down one of their homes.

They're optimistic that things will get better if they can get some financial help. If you want to help, call Agape at 229-446-1953.

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