We, at Haywood Pathways Center, have seen lives transformed—through prayer, support of staff and volunteers and access to resources for life skills and job searches. We believe, with your help, we have a chance to make a difference for those living in poverty in Haywood County.
Recovering Addict writes his book.
James Cooper has trouble not tearing up when he talks about his book.
The book, which is nearing publication, chronicles his harrowing journey through drug addiction and his recent recovery. While it is filled with painful lows, it has a happy ending, and there is one specific message he is hoping to convey.
“A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step,” Cooper, or simply “Coop” to his friends, said.
Cooper’s journey toward recovery began about 16 months ago when he hit rock bottom and found himself on the front steps of the Haywood Pathways Center. Since then, a life — once in ruin — has flourished.
The book follows Cooper’s life chronologically, from his birth back in 1963, through the perils of addiction and up to his victorious recovery.
“It goes step-by-step through my childhood,” he said, adding that he hopes the book captures his rebellious side. “I was brought up in a loving family, but I was totally out of control.”
Cooper began writing the book last summer. Although he said he had a rough draft ready in one day, he knew it needed some work. That’s when he reached out to Liberty Crouch, who he knows through The New Covenant Church, their mutual place of worship.
After reading Crouch’s autobiography, which chronicles parts of her journey through recovery, he knew she would be the perfect person to help him pen his book.
“I said, ‘you go and write down everything you want in your book and we’ll talk about it,’” Crouch said. “He came to me about a week later with a yellow notepad filled front and back … He was serious about it.”
Crouch said once they had a workable draft, she had him come over so she could go over it with him.
“When he came over, and I read it to him, he just wept,” she said.
Prior to being arrested and getting his life turned around, Cooper had become addicted to methamphetamine. He said he began using heavily following the death of his father in 2013. From there, things moved fast up to the arrest that turned things around.
Because he was known to authorities and jailers as someone who would cause trouble, he automatically went to the isolation cell.
“It gives you time to think,” he said.
Following his brief stint in jail, Cooper was released and placed on one year probation. Although he fell briefly back into using meth again, it wasn’t long before he found himself with nothing.
“The last time I used was the night before going to the Pathways Center,” he said. “I was cold and there was nowhere to go. I was at the end of my road.”
NORMAN AND KRYSTAL
Norm’s story—It was difficult when Norm lost his wife in 2002 – he felt lost and lonely and without any reason to live. And, to deaden the pain and loneliness, he began to drink and do drugs. Before long, he was addicted. What started as a temporary way to help him get through his grief became a way of life. –Norm proceeded to lose everything he had worked so hard for—his job, his work tools, his home, his freedom. In October 2013 Norm was convicted of drug abuse and went to prison for 19 months. On release from prison, Norm was had nowhere to go. And then he heard about Haywood Pathways Center. Norm entered the life transformation program in August 2015 and says it was the beginning of a new life.
Krystal’s story –Krystal was a certified nursing assistant in Georgia with two failed marriages when she decided to drive a friend to Tennessee to join his family. Unfortunately, the friend’s family refused to take him into their home after they got there. As they traveled back through Haywood County, they ran out of money. Asking around, they were told to go to the Haywood Pathways Center. What started as a 1-2 night stay turned into an opportunity to start over. Krystal entered the life transformation program in September 2015.
Norm and Krystal’s story –Norm and Krystal became friends while they were guests at the Haywood Pathways Center. They supported and encouraged each other as they worked through learning new life skills, the search for employment and housing. Their friendship continued after they left the program – and in June 2016, Norm and Krystal became Mr. & Mrs. They have continued to do well—an apartment that they have decorated and furnished, steady work in jobs they enjoy, their own transportation and hope for the future.
Norm and Krystal say that their time at Haywood Pathways Center gave them “time to do what you need to do to straighten your life out.” Norm says “It made me look at myself, and made me stand on my own two feet.” It also gave them the desire to give back – Norm has completed the classwork required and is now a Peer Support Specialist, helping others stand on their own two feet.
There was a time when James Cooper was a self-sufficient citizen of Haywood County, with his own home and martial arts studio. And then he made some poor choices –and lost everything. For four years, “Coop” wandered from one place to another, had an occasional low paying job, got involved with the wrong people and discovered meth, even spent time in prison— no hope and no future. After ending up in the hospital with cellulitis, “Coop” was referred to Haywood Pathways Center. He wasn’t ready and didn’t believe staff when they told him he was worth more, he could do more, and they could help him turn his life around. After several encounters with Missy of the Pathways staff, “Coop” decided to try the Pathways program—after all, what did he have to lose?
Once “Coop” made up his mind that he did not like the life he was living, or the person he had become, he embraced the Pathways Life Transformation program fully. He joined Celebrate Recovery, as well as worked with counselors at Meridian Behavioral Health. He spent hours at Career Connections, learning how to do a resume, applying for jobs and practicing how to interview. And, he found salvation –accepting Jesus Christ as his savior and becoming a member of New Covenant Church.
Today, “Coop” has a full time job with benefits, his own transportation and apartment. He has dedicated his life to God and is active in his church. He has rediscovered interest in music, fitness and reading. He has reopened the martial arts studio, is in training to become a Peer Support Specialist at Meridian Behavioral Health and writing a book on Life after Meth. He is thankful for all the support he has received, especially Mark and Brittany at Meridian Behavioral Health, Maggie and Tess at Career Connections and Missy at Haywood Pathways Center—“The ones who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.”
Jeff Boyles is one of the many people who turned his life around thanks to Haywood Pathways Center. Jeff was self-employed before he lost his home and everything he owned in a fire in 2011. As someone who had always been the one giving help, not receiving it, he had trouble reaching out. A series of misfortunes, along with what he admits were bad choices, ended with him living under a bridge. It wasn’t until he made his way to the Haywood Pathways Center that his life’s purpose came into focus. He now has a job and spends his spare hours giving back to the program that helped him get back on his feet.
It’s a place to come to get your life back. It gives you a chance to be surrounded by healthy people, healthy relationships that’s not going to put you down and damn you for where you’ve been, but lift you up for where you can go.