There it was. Every time one of the men walked out the entry door or looked out the front window of The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center in Denver, they could see it. It was impossible to miss.

It was a reminder of the foe that had stolen much of their lives; the one they were now battling every day to defeat. Some say it was a trigger that caused them to slip back into old ways.

It was a billboard that advertised an alcoholic beverage.

But now it’s gone and the advertisement that replaced it is the one pictured above, promoting The Salvation Army’s local shelter. Some would call that strategic. Current resident Trevor B. and many of the others at Harbor Light would call it a “godsend.”

Trevor1Trevor – pictured above – just completed our drug and alcohol program at the Harbor Light after six months of residential rehabilitation.

This isn’t his first go-round. He completed a Salvation Army drug and alcohol program four times already but there was always something in his path to stumble over, causing him to spiral back out into dangerous habits.

“I could have a PHD in addiction by now,” said Trevor. “I went through rehab before because I was doing it for others. Back then I didn’t really understand addiction but I learned that if you fall, you get back up.”

Thankfully, the Army welcomed him back each time for another try, praying that he would figure it out.

Trevor2This time he’ll continue to live in the post-rehab housing on site while he works and goes to school. He’ll pay a little bit in rent to help him prepare for the transition to life on the outside. He’s also joined the local Salvation Army worship center and is hoping to pursue a career working with senior citizens.

“The Salvation Army helped me grow,” said Trevor. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without them.”

Denver sign
Did the larger-than-life alcohol advertisement that stood outside, facing the rehab center, matter?  For Trevor it was as if the devil himself put it there to mock him or set him up for failure.

It matters to him so it matters to us too.

In some communities around the U.S., The Salvation Army works with the agencies that book billboard advertising to ask them to designate outdoor signs that face Army rehab centers “alcohol free”.

For Trevor and the thousands of other men and women like him, we’re going to ask other companies to take the “alcohol free” pledge too.

If we can get them to say yes, we’ll be helping to protect folks who are taking steps towards freedom from alcohol and drugs during a vulnerable time in their lives. We think that’s worth the effort.


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