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Reshaping the Narrative: A Father’s Journey on the Road to Recovery

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Men in recovery face unique challenges in reuniting with their children. But at Central City Concern, scores of dads have reunited with their families, found freedom from active addiction and accessed housing, health care and employment to advance their children’s quality of life. This Father’s Day, CCC is chronicling one such story; that of Glenn “G-Whiz” Jr. 

Glenn is a Native American from the Warm Springs Reservation in Central Oregon. Today he is a devoted single father of three and lives with his family at Crescent Court Apartments, where CCC offers resident services. 


From Reservation to Incarceration 

Glenn grew up the oldest of seven children. While he loved the community in Warm Springs and believes “you can make it what you want,” he was also surrounded by gangs and substance use. “Growing up all I saw was party, party, party, alcohol, weed and meth,” he said. In 2016, Glenn was incarcerated for three years at Sheridan Correctional Center. When he was released, he went to a halfway house and then to Medicine Wheel Recovery Center in St. Helens. There, they suggested he relocate to CCC’s Richard Harris Building, also known as the 8×8. 


Life at the 8×8 

For those who are houseless or in danger of being unhoused, the 8×8 and Recovery Mentor Programs at CCC offer a critical pathway to permanent supportive housing based on recovery and self-sufficiency. The focus of this model is to prevent relapse and recidivism. Clients don’t just get a place to livethey are given the opportunity to discover a new way to live.  

“I learned to be humble,” said Glenn. “To know that I could be out on these streets in a tent, I could be on the run, or I could be back in Warm Springs doing the couch-to-couch thing. I did my best to my ability, stayed sober the whole time and graduated.”  

“Glenn left inpatient treatment and really hit the ground running,” said Casey Neilson, Glenn’s case manager. “He was determined to get his kids back, but he understood that he couldn’t be a good father without first repairing the damage of his past. He came in needing help and now he’s helping others. That’s the power of CCC.” 

One of his first steps on the road to self-sufficiency was the Community Volunteer Corps, a volunteer program that provides individuals in CCC housing with the opportunity to build skills to ease their transition into the workforce. “I learned I could work without an attitude,” said Glenn. After he graduated from CVC, he began working with an employment specialist at CCC’s Employment Access Center 


The Employment Access Center and Constructing Hope  

Soon after meeting with an employment specialist, Glenn was hired as an on-call front desk associate for Central City Staffing. “Glenn was probably our most improved trainee,” said Central City Staffing Program Manager Amanda Stone. “He was super reliable and got the job done.” 

Glenn also participated in Constructing Hope, a nonprofit that works in partnership with the Employment Access Center and offers a 10-week, construction skills and life skills pre-apprenticeship construction training program  

Glenn soon discovered that mixing peer support with the trades was an interesting niche he could fill as a mentor or career coach. Glenn obtained his credential as a certified recovery mentor with the State of Oregon and entered the WEX Internship, a 300-hour internship that is funded in partnership with WorkSource Oregon and offers employers the ability to train new employees in their field. Glenn recently obtained his driver’s license and is currently looking for jobs as a peer support specialist. 

“He’s worked hard to put himself in a position to find the right kind of employment.” said Lead Employment Specialist Angelo Polvorosa. In my opinion, this is the ‘funnest’ part of ‘homes, health, jobs.’ We get to work with people on their dreams and goals and open their eyes to possibilities they thought were closed to them. 


CCC Housing as a Pathway to Regaining Custody  

“My main focus was getting my kids back,” Glenn recalled. “They were in Child Protective Services at the time. They [CPS] called and reached out to me and wanted to know if I wanted to be a resource.” Glenn had to be drug tested frequently and began with Zoom visits. Eventually he was able to visit them on the weekends, and then his oldest was able to move in with him at the 8×8.  

Glenn met with Housing Specialist Barb Morrison, who didn’t trivialize the task at hand. “He began speaking about his desire to find a place for him and his children, a big reach for someone coming out of our programs,” she said. “But Glenn did it.” He ended up finding a two-bedroom apartment at Crescent Court, a building designed to be welcoming for children and families.  

“It has been a pleasure to watch Glenn’s process. It’s a true success story of what Central City Concern is designed to do, and how we help our clients,” said Barb.


Life at Crescent Court and the Hardest Job of All 

When I first got all three of them, I’m not going to lie, it was a struggle,” said Glenn. “At the time I didn’t really know how to cook. I didn’t know how to get them up and get ready for school let alone fix my daughter’s hair. At first, they didn’t want help and did everything on their own. It took a little time to get that trust and bond back. But once we got it back, it was just nonstop love and joy.” 

These days all three children are doing well in school and at home. Glenn cooks for them and fixes his daughter’s hair every day. “I love the fact that I get to wake up and be a dad and be sober and present,” he said. 

Glenn’s favorite part about living at Crescent Court? There’s a Boys and Girls Club on-site where his kids get after-school care in a safe, supportive and fun environment. 


With an Eye to the Future 

I don’t let my background scare me anymore,” said Glenn with a smile. “So, I put everything into God’s hands and roll. If He wants me to have this job, He’s going to give it to me. And if not, there’s more opportunity out there.” 

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