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David’s Story

Thursday, January 14, 2021

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David Brandon grew up outside Astoria in Knappa, an idyllic fishing-and-logging community on the banks of the Columbia River.

There wasn’t much for him to do in the town of 2,000, so “I got hooked up with the wrong crowd,” he says.

He started smoking cigarettes when he was 14, then moved on to marijuana and alcohol. As his substance use grew, he dropped out of high school.

“I spent six years partying and couch surfing,” he recalls. Eventually, he started using heroin and meth. At that point he was essentially homeless — and he knew it was time to make a change.

David became sober during a stay at the Native American Rehabilitation Association’s (NARA) residential treatment center, which offers culturally appropriate recovery treatment to American Indians and Alaska Natives.

When it came time for his next step, David knew Central City Concern’s Richard Harris Building was what he needed. He had heard from friends in NARA that the “8×8” recovery program at the Richard Harris offered a safe, welcoming community.

David was thrilled to move into a transitional housing unit in the downtown Portland building. He soon joined CCC’s Clean Start program, a six-month job training and mentorship program that fills cleaning and maintenance needs throughout Portland. “Visiting homeless camps to take out trash reminds me of where I’d be if I didn’t get clean,” he says.

David now has permanent housing in the Richard L. Harris Building. He spends his time going to recovery meetings, watching Blazers games and hanging out with his mom when she visits from Knappa.

His plan is to move up in the Clean Start organization and to mentor other people in recovery. “I was an addict,” David says.

I hope that I inspire others to think, ‘I can do this.’

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