‘They Love Me for Who I Am’

Maurice-Bufford_030_250x250Salvation Army helped him conquer 41 years of addiction

When Maurice started using drugs and alcohol at 16, he says it was “so I could talk to girls.” But when he joined the Navy during the Vietnam War, his abuse spun out of control. The end of the war didn’t help, either. As a vet of an unpopular war, he was often met with disdain; some even spit in his face. Maurice had trouble finding — and keeping — jobs. So he continued drowning his problems in booze and substance abuse.

For 41 years, Maurice remained an addict, living a vicious cycle of odd jobs, thievery, prison, failed attempts to sober up, and even the loss of his family. “I was so low,” he says now. “I was scared, and I had nothing. I just wanted to die.” So he attempted suicide.

Now, two years later, he’s glad he failed. “God saved me,” he says. “I don’t know why, but He did.”

Finding his self-worth

After recovering in a hospital, Maurice sought help at The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center on Chicago’s West Side, entering the substance abuse rehab program. “I had no self-worth,” he says. “I felt no value.” But he faithfully attended classes, counseling, and spiritual groups, and eventually regained control of his life.

Now 59 and sober for two years, the once-shy Maurice says Salvation Army staff was instrumental in his turnaround. “They love me for who I am, not for what I do for them,” he says. “Because of them, I learned how to love.” He has since reconnected with family, and is “no longer the uncle they don’t want around.”

He hopes his testimony can help others break their bonds of addiction: “I’ve been there, I understand,” he says. “So if I touch just one person . . .”

So Maurice thanks The Salvation Army, but also those who make such life-changing stories possible through their generous support. People like you, who say, “If I can touch just one person . . .”

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