Only half buoyed by a lifetime of apathetic “foxhole” prayers to get him through tough times, and a thirst for alcohol that casually began at the age of 14, Chuck Reynolds’ resolve was rapidly chipped away by the time he reached his early 50s.
“She drank a little, drugged a lot; I drank a lot, drugged a little,” said Chuck, referring to the dynamic between him and his past girlfriend who, having her own addictions, did little to challenge his drinking problem. “So, I got off work early one day on September 1, 2000. I went back to the house, and she and I started arguing.”
Remembering the Men’s Mission he drove by every day on his way to work for a local concrete contractor, Chuck walked out of his toxic relationship and into UGM. That was 20 years ago, nearly to the day.
Chuck never imagined he’d find himself sitting at the Mission that night soaking up a sermon or taking up a bed. “You see the people lined up outside the Mission, and you think ‘That would never happen to me. I’ve got a job, apartment…”
He was struck by how one mistake or unpredictable life event could land someone in a spot where the need for outside intervention is greater than the ability to help oneself.
At that time, Chuck didn’t consider himself a Christian. But the first chapel service he attended at UGM prompted him to look back on the decisions he had made, and the affect they had on him and the people around him, like his daughter he rarely saw. When he finally surrendered his life to Christ, he discovered a new kind of freedom.
“As I look back, giving up drinking was something I wanted to do, but didn’t have the courage to do,” Chuck admitted. “But the Lord gave [the courage] to me. I haven’t had a drink in 20 years.”
After completing New Life Fellowship, a recovery program for men and women battling addiction, Chuck interned at UGM, eventually moved into a maintenance position, and today still hails as Facilities Manager for UGM. He now regularly sees his daughter.
Being that he’s the construction site coordinator, too, for the new Men’s Mission, Chuck is rarely seen without his white hard hat and bright neon safety vest. The verse he carries in his heart and lives out by his actions is 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
As someone who can empathize with those seeking shelter and hope, Chuck’s concern for UGM guests is clearly evidenced by the way he listens to each person with respect. A movie buff with a robust collection of 3,800 DVDs, he daily loans them out to both the Men’s Mission and Simonka Place. If guests have a special film request, Chuck is usually able to deliver.
“Each person has their own story and reason for being [at UGM],” Chuck explained. “Some won’t tell you why because it hurts too much. But to change homelessness, we have to listen and care.”