Almost three years ago Robert and I had an idea to create an organization to help others in our community. We started working on this idea right from the kitchen table. Robert and I would sit at opposite sides of the old wooden table, working from our laptops searching for information about how to make this idea come to life. We would take notes, sketch plans, create outlines, and make lists of resources and people we wanted to talk to.
The name came from two ideas. Zero Hour is a nod to Robert's military experience. Zero Hour means the time which a planned operation, usually a military operation, that is set to begin; a crucial moment or a moment of decision. It seemed fitting, as to seek recovery is an individual's decision to make and usually occurs at a crucial moment in time. We added Life Center because recovery must take place in all aspects of life. Recovery from substance abuse is not simply abstinence and support group meetings. Individuals seeking recovery have to make many life changes, as Robert says in his Five Principles to Renew Your Mind, you must change your life diet of people places and things. And so, Zero Hour Life Center became the name. But that was just the beginning.
We started with a simple Facebook page and began posting information and inspirational quotes about recovery. To reach out to people we tried podcasts, YouTube videos and Facebook live videos. We offered support group meetings at the local library. Eventually, we built a website and used that to promote our services too. We were able to help some people, but we wanted to reach out to others.
We met with a few community leaders and other organizations with missions similar to ours. Some of them were helpful by giving advice or by pointing us in the right direction, others seemed less interested. I would like to think that our vision was not the same as theirs instead of the fact that they believed we did not have a substance abuse or homelessness problem in our community. We didn’t let this deter us from our mission. We kept going. Some ideas worked, and some didn’t. We didn’t give up. Robert was relentless and determined to make this work. Together we modified and fine-tuned our mission and our plan as we learned about how we could help people in our community.
At some point, about a year into our work, we learned of the term, Recovery Community Organization. Initially we had no idea what that was but we quickly learned that we were trying to accomplish fell perfectly under this definition. This knowledge empowered us and it gave our original idea even more credence. The services we wanted to offer were needed, not just in our community, but in every community. That solidified in our minds that what we were trying to do was valid. That is how Zero Hour Life Center (ZHLC) was born, two people with a grand idea to do humble work in order to reach out and help people in need in our community.
Since then we have been able to help many people. In the last twelve months we have worked with nearly 100 people in one way or another. It is truly humbling work. It is also immensely rewarding.
Some of our victories include helping five individuals who were homeless, some for years, become housed in a place of their own. Four ZHLC clients have been approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits through the SOAR Works program and we have another eight applications with decisions pending.
Recently, we met H. H who was homeless, living in the woods for nearly a year, and an alcoholic. H asked us for help. ZHLC along with its network of partners was able to help H into a substance abuse treatment center. He successfully completed his 90 days there and has now moved to a sober living house and started working a full time job. That is the reward for ZHLC, to help someone who was near hopelessness regain control of his life and realize recovery from substance abuse was possible.
A few months ago ZHLC became an authorized DCF Access Florida Community Partner. This allowed ZHLC to help people complete and submit applications for SNAP (food stamps), cash assistance, and Medicaid. Since beginning this program ZHLC has assisted nearly a dozen individuals complete and get approvals for their Access Florida applications.
Zero Hour Life Center formed a partnership with The Centers in Ocala as part of their Care Coordination and SOAR team. We are proud to be a part of the good work The Centers does in Marion and Citrus County.
ZHLC has helped clients by providing peer recovery coaching. We believe peer recovery coaching is an integral support for anyone seeking long term recovery. The peer recovery coach is a valuable asset to recovery because they can draw on their own lived experiences with substance abuse, giving the coach the ability to understand and empathize with the individual.
ZHLC and all of its programs are funded through donations received from community members and local businesses. These donations allow us to offer our programs at no cost to our clients. We appreciate each and every dollar that is donated to ZHLC.
As we look to the future, ZHLC’s next goal is to open a Recovery Community Organization facility in Citrus County that offers our current programs along with new opportunities for assistance all in one centrally located place in our community. We plan to offer education and training, GED assistance, second chance employment opportunities, and housing placement assistance, computer access, and even a gym. All of these programs are essential in promoting recovery from substance abuse and homelessness. This facility will also be a social gathering place for those in recovery, seeking recovery and recovery allies to get together, share experiences, make friends, and work towards rebuilding their lives.
Recovery from addiction and homelessness is an on-going process. The struggles we go through in life are hard enough, it is important for people to know that they are not alone.
There is life after addiction.
There is hope for the homeless.
Zero Hour Life Center can help.
Written by Mary Jensen, Administrative Director and Co-founder of Zero Hour Life Center
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