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My Salvation Army Story

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My Salvation Army Story

My name is Robert Coleman and I’m a graduate of the Salvation Army program at the Roxborough Philadelphia location. I entered the program October 1rst, 2010 the day before my 23rd birthday. I came in so broken. I didn’t want to live but also didn’t want to die and with the amount of drugs and alcohol I was consuming I was definitely heading to an early grave. I had tried a handful of other treatment centers and programs before and that didn’t work. I wanted this to be my last rehab so I was going to give it my all and go above and beyond. I felt like I was fighting for my life. During the time I stayed there I decided I would set my life up right and do whatever I could to get it this time. I paid attention in electives that were held, I joined the men’s choir, I played a part in chapel services and volunteered for whatever help that was needed. One Christmas I even dressed up as Santa one year for the kids. I was a clothes sorter, truck helper, bailor, furniture guy, trash man. Some of the duties were great. I swung cages, tossed bags, kicked cans ragged out a bunch of items and a whole lot of other Salvation Army lingo. Whether it was night shift or day shift, whatever weather condition or holiday it was I worked with no complaints.

Day I received my Alumni pin at the Salvation Army 2012

At my daughters kindergarten graduation in my Salvation Army Uniform

Not also did I stay until completion but worked several different positions in several departments. I was training to be a store manager in one of the many thrift stores but instead became a warehouse supervisor and did that for some time. I loved my work there and was very passionate about what I was assigned to do and never missed a day. I regularly attended 12 step fellowships, I became employable and started my very first job (at the Salvation Army). I expunged my criminal record, restored my driving privileges, gained custody of my child who I hadn’t seen in years and thankfully built back up relationships with my family. I built up plenty of healthy friendships and kept some friends and buried some friends along the way. I gained knowledge about my addiction and healthy tools to combat it when the urges would strike. First 30, 60 and 90 days the obsession to use was lifted and the shame and guilt began to slowly go away. This was the hurdle I needed to get over and started to see myself staying clean longer than any other time since I was 15 years old.

Day picking up donations and hanging out with a group of Salvation Army graduates

Me and Kimberly

While employed as a warehouse supervisor there I had become engaged to a woman by the name of Kimberly Finnegan who also worked there at the time. She too was very passionate about the Salvation Army and loved giving back. During her time there her performance didn’t go unnoticed and was quickly promoted to a store manager. Kim was an amazing person. Very personable, bubbly, happy and would do anything for anybody. Her laugh was contagious and her smile lit up the room. She loved helping others. The morning of her very first day I wished her luck, told her I loved her and I told her we would celebrate with a meal that I would prepare for when she got home. Unfortunately she never made it home that night.

That morning On June 5th 2013 a building being demolished collapsed onto the Salvation Army thrift store, killing six and injuring 13 others. Kim was one of the 6 whose life was taken that day. It was her first day on the job. 12 days prior to the day she was taken from me I had asked her to marry me and she said yes. We had plans in the making on how things were going to go for us both. Along with wedding planning, we were in early stages of creating All Good Things Recovery. We had talked about devoting our lives to help others who were just like us. There was that passion and that dream we had both shared and that was to start a recovery house. Kim had unfortunately passed before we had opened our first recovery home.

The start of All Good Things Recovery

As I was grieving and trying to get through the passing of Kim, All Good Things Recovery started falling to the waist side and I just didn’t know what I was going to do. I was fighting my own battle with mental health, fighting through the thought of relapse and ultimately giving up on life. It was at that point in my life our due to be “first client “and an individual we called a friend was due to get out of the Salvation Army ARC. Kim and I had spoken about this prior to him being successfully discharged to let him into our 1 bedroom apartment. I decided to allow him to stay. He had not a penny to his name and was nervous about his situation and what he was going to do. I freely offered whatever I had, I took him food shopping buying a cart full of his favorite foods, stocked him up with toiletries and cigarettes and gave him a rundown of what I expected from him. “Stay clean, go to meetings, get a sponsor, home group and develop a support network”.

All Good Things First Official Certified Recovery Residence 2014

First Two clients of All Good Things Recovery at work

I gave him time to get a job and let him know staying employed was important and mandatory. I had also explained to him as long as he stayed clean he could stay living there. Shortly after, another individual came from the facility and after seeing what I had done for “X” he wanted the same opportunity. No longer after him another individual and friend was due to be discharged from the Salvation Army and it was looking like he’d be staying on the floor in my bedroom if I allowed him in. I had a guy on a couch, one a recliner and possibly one on my floor which didn’t seem feasible, so I got a house. I planned on using the same generosity and lay down the same rules and the same routine as I did before, just with more people. I began to see the need for more recovery beds so I got another house, then another and another. The dream had come true and All Good Things Recovery was operating and people knew what was available to them.

Salvation Army was my life and most of the people I associated with where also affiliated with the Salvation Army. When exiting out of the Salvation Army I was extremely lucky to have moved into a home that also had other Salvation Army employees and graduates. Me living there when I left was very helpful. Two of my best friends who I still stay in touch with on a daily basis went through the program and graduated and their lives are more than great. All of the people, places, things and activities I talked about has helped me stay abstinent from all mood and mind altering substances. I have worked hard at building a life worth staying clean for.

Since 2013, I’ve had many recovery homes and helped thousands of individuals in many ways. A good percentage of people got help Gaining custody of their children, getting there driving privileges restored, criminal records expunged, become employable, fixing their credit scores, get through there probation, renting their very own apartments and homes and getting their families back in their lives. Through structure, routines, rules and long periods of abstinence from drugs and alcohol many have gotten clean and stayed clean. Choosing a certain 12 step fellowship of their own, attending outpatient, church and other counseling has helped many while living in an atmosphere such as a recovery house. I succeeded in what me and Kim had set out to do and has driven me to help save and repair as many lives as I can before I go.

In Loving Memory of

Kimberly Jean Finnegan

04-29-1978 – 06-05-2013

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Bob, I kind of knew about some of the work you did but after reading your whole story, I had no idea! You are such an amazing guy and have saved so many lives. Thanks for all you do, I wish I had the pleasure of meeting Kim. I really miss you and wish you so much success in your future. ..Lynne


What a beautiful tribute to Kim and both of your recovery efforts. You have such a purpose in this world and in God's presence! Keep up the great work. You truly have a calling here on earth!!

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