If you had asked me when I was 15 or 16, I would’ve seen myself as having a wife, a kid, a dog, you know…

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

“If you had asked me when I was 15 or 16, I would’ve seen myself as having a wife, a kid, a dog, you know 

Matt grew up in a tiny town he explains as a “map dot” in Alabama. Up until about a year ago, he had never been so much as west of his hometown state. But then unforeseeable tragedy struck that rearranged the rhythms of life.  

Detrimental choices

When Matt’s mom passed away in 2016, he grappled with grief and darkness, and life began unraveling as he made detrimental choices. Addiction slowly, yet strongly, gripped him, morphing Matt into someone he didn’t recognize. 

I had never done anything like that in my life…The meth, it just turned me into a person that was not like me,” Matt relayed. “It literally took everything from me, stripped me from my morals…but you don’t care because you just keep wanting to get high. 

Matt had always been a diligent worker. But it seemed that no amount of striving could fix his stronghold“There were many nights crying myself to sleep out of anger at myself, how could I let my life come to this, you know?”  

New beginnings

One day, Matt concluded he was going to the West Coast to start fresh. What was out west? Matt wasn’t entirely sure. Securing his Greyhound bus tickets, he had a choice between Portland or Salem destination. He, seemingly, arbitrarily chose Salem.  

“It took about four days to get here, I got off at the bus stop, and I told a guy I needed a few nights to stay somewhere, and he told me about [UGM], and I’ve been here ever since,” explains Matt.  

Eventually, he enrolled in the New Life Fellowship transformation program (NLF), a long-term residential recovery program where he has found hope, healing, relationship, and God’s love.    

“I think it was in Luke when the son was gone, laying in the pig pen, and he comes back home, and his dad is there with open arms. And I just see God as that. He’s blessed me with more than I deserve,” says Matt, who didn’t have a relationship with the Lord prior to UGM. 

The Lord establishes our steps

Today, Matt is earnestly working to complete his GED, and is projecting to graduate from the NLF program in March of 2021. While he may not know exactly what his plans are, he has much to anticipateAs Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. 

“I think [this GED] will open up doors that for so many years were closed in my life. It’s a big confidence booster to get back out and be a productive member of society,” says Matt. 

Every day, people just like Matt come to UGM seeking help, and just $11.08 provides a night of shelter.

Give today at to help change the face of homelessness one story at a time.

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It’s not about me. It’s not my story. It’s about the One who shines through me. May God shine through me every day.
From where I began [at UGM], I’ve come almost full circle because I’m mentoring a guy down there right now.
“If people would take the time to ask one question, ‘what’s your story,’ I’d tell them,” says Michael. “I don’t run from my past. I can’t because it tells a story, and so does my future.”
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