Willie’s Story

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This is not a story of a hunter surviving in the jungle; it is the story of a man surviving, actually thriving, in the inner city of Augusta.

Willie grew up in Fort Lauderdale in a drug-infested neighborhood. Alcohol and drugs were a way of life, and Willie embraced that lifestyle for 30 years. In 2009, he came to Augusta to be with his sister, but she would not let him in her house because of his drug use. So, Willie slept in a car on the street in front of her house. After several months of cold, hungry, sleepless nights, Willie came to the conclusion that his lifestyle would eventually kill him. He realized he needed help (the first step in most lifestyle changes). Now, where to go?

Willie went to The Salvation Army where he found shelter, a hot meal, a warm shower, and a good night’s sleep. Fortunately for Willie, the assistance he received did not stop there. Willie also found people who wanted to help him turn his life around. Willie entered their alcohol and drug rehabilitation program, but when “graduation” time came, Willie did not leave. Having gone through numerous rehabilitation programs in Florida, he knew he needed more time and more help before he would be ready for a normal life. Willie continued to work with the program and became a sober, drug-free man. But the story gets better!

Go by the Kroc Center in Historic Harrisburg and you will see a man working on the grounds, or cleaning out a fountain, or adding a new personalized brick to the walkway. That is Willie, working each day, drug free and enjoying life with his new wife and family. (Update: Willie recently was promoted to Facilities Manager of The Salvation Army Kroc Center. Congratulations, Willie!)

Today, Willie is a passionate advocate for The Salvation Army and United Way, and he shares his story freely whenever and wherever he is asked to. Willie does not use notes! He stands in front of the audience and, FROM THE HEART, tells of the life saving changes brought about in his life by this United Way supported agency, The Salvation Army.

Your contributions to United Way make an impact in the lives of thousands of individuals, just like Willie, every day. Through your donation to United Way, you can help to change the lives of children, adults, and seniors – perhaps even your family, friends, and neighbors living in our community. Thank you for your support!