“Looking back, I kind of felt lost as a kid,” says Keith, now 56. “I'm the oldest of 15 kids, and my mother was too busy working or taking care of the younger children to pay much attention to me. And I never knew my father. I felt abandoned at a young age.”
Without parental attention or direction, Keith started “playing hooky” from school, and he was smoking marijuana by the age of 12. “Doing the drugs gave me something to do,” he recalls. “Nobody ever bothered me. And I got a lot of respect with older people.” He dropped out of school in 10th grade and never graduated.
But Keith could never seem to get his life on track. He worked occasionally, partied a lot, hung out on the streets, and by his late 20s he had fathered three kids, whom he abandoned, and had an out-of-control addiction to cocaine and PCP. “I had no business being a father or a husband. I was too irresponsible and unfocused. I always felt defeated, and I became more and more depressed,” he says.
By 2003, Keith was homeless, sleeping in crack houses, under bushes, under the expressway, or at a spot he found by the county jail. He came to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission in 2004 and got sober. But he soon relapsed. Three months later, God brought Keith back to MRM. There would be no more relapses. He says the love of God that he experienced here — through staff — healed the emotional wounds he'd carried since childhood and filled all the abandoned areas of his heart and soul.
Today, Keith works full-time for the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. What he enjoys most is interacting with other men seeking help here. “These guys need someone, just like I did,” Keith says. “I get the greatest feeling of love here. Love is my addiction now.”