Resident Spotlight Nov 2020

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God has a plan for you and you don’t need to know what it is; He gives second, third, and even more chances.

This is a pretty amazing living story. Joel Spina is aged 52. He has been a resident of Homeless Not Hopeless Transitional and Educational Housing at Baxter Street in Hyannis for the past four years.

His life began with love, support, and much promise. He was a good student.
 Joel grew up in Lynn, graduated from the Lynn English High School, took a ‘PG’ year at Bridgeton Academy Prep School and entered Northeastern University as a Radiology major. Sure looked like he was well on his way to a long, successful career.

After 3 1/2 years at Northeastern University, the choices he made turned sour and his life fell off the rails; he discovered crack, a highly addictive smoking form of cocaine that delivers its high cheaply, instantly and powerfully. This new divergent journey for Joel began in August 2011.

The encouraging sign was always that Joel did not give up. He spent one year at the ARC residential program (the Adult Rehab Center of the Salvation Army) in Saugus to treat his drug addiction. He completed. He relapsed. Fortunately, his father continued to support him, never giving up on him. Dad sent him to another Salvation Army Recovery Program. This time it was in Ft. Myers, FL where Joel resided for another year. He completed. He relapsed. He returned to Lynn and was arrested for possession of cocaine. Joel spent the next two years in the House of Correction in Middleton, MA (1993-1995).
Upon completion of his prison sentence, he was assigned to probation for the next two years. He violated his probation by relapsing and was returned to the Middleton HOC for another two years. This time after his prison discharge he was sent to the Aimsbury Sober House, where he resided for the next two years. He completed. He relapsed and returned to his alma mater once again, Middleton HOC for another two years.

He completed this stint and he remained clean and sober from 2005 – 2008. Crack cocaine is very enticing: “It calls you.” In 2008 he relapsed and was given two more years of probation. Joel relapsed again in 2010 and again in 2011. He returned to Middleton for another year after which he lived in the Cottage Sober House and Treatment Program for the following 6 months.
He fell in love. They had a child. Then he cheated on his love and was discovered. His significant other got the court to issue a no contact restraining order in August 2011. He got angry and violated the order. The court became aware of his violation and sentenced him this time to the Barnstable House of Correction for two years . His discharge date from BHOC was August 3, 2013.
Initially he lived in the sheriff’s sober house, Friends of Prisoners, in Hyannis, and four years ago he moved to the HNH house. Somewhere along the way Joel lost his obsession for crack cocaine. Now he has remained clean and sober the past four years by adopting an attitude of gratitude, praying faithfully twice a day to a God of his choosing, and attending recovery programs daily (now on-line).

He smiles and laughs. Joel has acquired a car. He has had a steady job at Shepley Lumber as a painter for 5 years; they love him, he loves them and painting. Almost miraculously he received a Section 8 Housing voucher, a federal subsidy housing program, usable anywhere in the United States; it’s very challenging to secure. With that voucher in hand Joel has developed a dream of moving to Boca Raton to secure an apartment near his sister, Leah, and his ten year old daughter, his only remaining family. Both parents are deceased and his only brother drown from an alcoholic seizure in 2005. Joel feels blessed and thanks the Lord for continuing to give him chances all these many years. He readily acknowledges that he would never have arrived at this place of rebuilding had he not been given respite at the residence of Homeless Not Hopeless. Joel calculates that he has spent a total of 18 adult years incarcerated, but now he is giving back to society in the only ways he can: staying clean, working reliably, paying taxes and contributing to his community. You could consider him a miracle!