SPRINGFIELD — “I thought I knew everything. You couldn’t tell me anything at all.”
That is how Richard Cunningham thought before entering into the New Beginning Sanctuary, a faith-based sobriety program in Springfield.
That is common frame of mind for many addicts, but Richard has battled the last year of life to get to a place that he can be proud of.
“The biggest thing I’m proud of is that I can be Richard Cunningham. I don’t have to be the old bad guy who made bad decisions.”
For Richard, a huge factor in him getting to this point was his faith.
“God is the one that changed my life,” Richard says. “He is the one that put people in my life to help me make better decisions.”
One of those people is Alon Fisch, the Director at New Beginnings Sanctuary. He says that the hardest thing for new members to adapt to is structure.
“Just being responsible for a certain time, a certain activity, going to meetings, doing the things and having a structured day I think is new for a lot of people,” Fisch says.
New Beginnings Sanctuary has 12 houses throughout the area with over 100 beds. With so much work to do, many of the members of the class help pay it forward.
“Most of this class that we have graduating tonight have started with us from the beginning,” Fisch explains. “They have risen up to become leaders in the houses. they have become either house managers, or assistant managers. All of them at some point, are helping the rest of the group.”
One of those people helping the rest of the group is Richard. He has become a house manager himself and for anyone struggling to find their way to sobriety Richard says trust is key.
“Trust the program you are getting yourself into,” Richard says. “Trust somebody that has some structure. Lean on somebody that can lead you in a way that can make you think differently. You have to change your rhythm of thinking.”
The New Beginning Sanctuary gets no government funding. The members pay their own way through the program, and they also accept donations to help people reach the road to sobriety.