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Free from the Bondage of Self-Destruction: A Pathway to Glory!

Mr. Robert Bufford

"Walk with me; I would like to take you on a journey through the intrinsic mind of a once-focused servant."

Enslaved in the bondage of self-destruction

My name is Mr. Robert Bufford. I'm 60 years young. For forty years, I've lived my life in what I would like to call the pre-contemplation stage, which means, for forty years, I knew I was enslaved in the bondage of self-destruction but wasn't ready or willing to make the necessary changes to free myself from such bondage. It wasn't until a cold winter day in January (2020) when I found myself handcuffed and placed inside a police car that a spiritual awakening came upon me, and little did I know that my life was about to change for the better.


Approximately one year later, again, I was released from the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, no longer in the pre-contemplation stage because I wanted something different and knew I needed to do something different to obtain different results. So I moved into the contemplation stage, I didn't want to remain enslaved in the bondage of self-destruction. 


My New Journey Began's:

Free From the Bondage of Self-Destruction

My first step to my Pathway to Glory was when I entered into It's About Change Sober Living Recovery Home.


When I arrived at the recovery home, I didn't know what to expect; I knew I was ready to make the necessary changes and sacrifices toward reinventing myself. I agreed to fully comply with all house rules and expectations during the initial intake process. One of the recommendations was to attend the TEECH Foundation Program M-F, 5 days a week, 5 hours a day.


TEECH Foundation

I was willing to participate in the program because I wanted anything that would assist me with not returning to the life I left, moving me into the preparation stage. Again, I didn't know what to expect, but I prepared myself for success.


I was a full-time student in the TEECH Program for approximately two months. During this period, I gained the ability to address my emotions, learned to make wise decisions, and the knowledge needed to stay on the path of success. Upon the completion of the program, I achieved certificates of completion in Spiritual Support, Peer/Mentorship Education, Recovery Support, Employment Coaching, Employment Training, and Environmental Service (Green Cleaning) completing all my parole board situations at TEECH and the last one was to get employment. I landed a job at one of TEECH's job placements partners, Dakkota Integrated Systems immediately which is one of TEECH's job placements and partners.


The Action Stage

Two months later, I was unemployed, but was still in the action stage. I needed a job. And Yahweh answered my prayers. I call this the action stage because I had to put everything I had learned into play and stay focused on my goals.


One of my goals was to work in recovery, not because I believed I would be good at it, but because I have always had a passion for assisting others in becoming a better version of themselves. March 15, 2021, at approximately 4:40 pm, I received a phone call from Dr. Karen White, C.E.O of the TEECH Foundation. She offered me a job as an intern. I disclosed that I wanted to work in the addiction field and accepted her offer without reservations.


Finally, I said to myself, Yahweh has showered me with his grace for this position. After all, I brought 40 years of lived experience to the table and I will be highly influential at this job. Boy, was I wrong? My 40 years were minimal to what I needed in order to really support the participants. I suddenly realized that I didn't know how to work in the recovery field effectively, and two months later, I was once again unemployed. However, I continued to stay in touch with the program director, Ms. De'Shara Shells, on how and what I was doing with my life. I learned that during the two months I was employed with TEECH Foundation, my skills were limited in professionalism, ethics, boundaries in the workplace, and empowering the participants.


So many jobs

For the next year and a half, I worked odd jobs and remained focused on my recovery; I refused to allow myself to enter into a state of mental depression. I somehow knew that Yahweh was returning me to the preparation stage and preparing me for another journey on my Pathway to Glory. Because of this, my hunger for success increased dramatically.


On October 30, 2022, Yahweh again showered me with grace and mercy. I was sitting in the privacy of my bedroom when the telephone rang. I answered, and to my surprise, it was the CEO of the TEECH Foundation. Dr. Karen White informed me that Ms. Shells recommended me for another employment opportunity and to come in Nov 1 for more details and an interview. I was determined to take full advantage of this opportunity, so I was prepared to go in with a different mindset. I had no idea of the job duties I would be asked to perform or what my job title would be; I was resting in the comfort and satisfaction of knowing that I had been offered another opportunity to free myself from the bondage of self-destruction.


November 1, 2022, I reported for my interview and was hired as a Community Health Specialist. My job duties were to distribute at-home HIV test kits, provide HIV education, and talk about the importance of being tested. This came with a challenge, as I had very little knowledge about HIV. Dr. White was very much aware of my lack of knowledge, so she immediately enrolled me in online HIV classes and training, which placed me back in the action stage. Believe me, my dear reader, it wasn't easy. This was just the beginning. I actually had to learn the Far Southside of Chicago, how to interact on a professional level, and use strict boundaries. I also had to complete documentation that included graphs and PowerPoint that enhanced my computer skills.


It's now December 8, 2023; I am still employed with TEECH Foundation.

As I sit here in the privacy of my room composing this letter after a year of rigorous training, education, continuous supervision, hard work, discipline, determination, diligence, and sacrifice, I consider myself in the maintenance stage of my life. I have obtained the following in one year of hard work: Uninterrupted Recovery, Stable Housing, Reunification with my family and children, and a 2024 Vehicle. In addition, I am a Certified Community Health Specialist, Certified Recovery Coach, Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, and a National Certified Recovery Specialist. Lastly, I have just applied to start South Suburban Community College in January 2024.

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