Volume 2, Number 8 - DEC. 08, 2011

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Christian Portilla

Jael Teme

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Student Overcomes Addiction at Miami Rescue Clinic

By Christian Portilla (christia.portilla001@mymdc.net), Jael Teme (jael.teme001@mymdc.net)

Eight years ago, Anthony Blackman says, he overdosed on crack cocaine.  

Today, Blackman, a 36-year-old student at the Carrie P. Meek Entrepreneurial Education Center, says he is a changed man.  

“That night I saw a piece of paper on the floor with the [Miami Rescue] Mission’s number, so I decided to call,” Blackman said. “The Mission helps the ‘least, the last and the lost.’ I was at a seventh grade education level before I went in. I did drugs for more than 20 years—since I was 13. I’m reborn now, it changed my life.”

The Miami Rescue Mission, 2020 NW First Ave., partners with health clinics and education programs to provide free medical assistance and resources to addicts and the homeless in Downtown Miami.

Miami Dade College students also volunteer there, to help patients recover and achieve their goals.

Adonis Batista, 38, a nursing student pursuing his bachelor’s degree at the Medical Campus, assists  doctors with patients.

“I take their vital signs if they have any pain,” Batista said. “If the patient is diabetic, after they have been seen by a doctor, we regulate a diet and things that will help them go better with their diagnosis.”

Miami Rescue Mission, a Judeo-Christian-based program, also features prayer groups, individualized mentoring and gives people the chance to graduate from the program with a certificate after 12-18 months.

“Many people enter the program but don’t stick with it,” Blackman said. “I graduated MRM in 2004 and was the first to earn my GED there.”

With a 24/7 open door policy, the program provides food, clothing, shelter, recovery programs and educational resources for those who want to change their lives.

“We currently have about 130 students enrolled in our education program,” said Ken Palonsky, the Jeffrey A. Tew Education Center’s supervisor, a partner with the Mission. “We focus on giving students positive reinforcement. These guys have had enough negative criticism in their lives. We try to change that.”

Once the students complete the educational program, they are expected to be on a tenth grade educational level, according to Palonsky. He says the program caters to each student individually, focusing on what the student wants to do in the work force once they exit the program.

“Students receive help in areas such as forming a resume, cover letter, a follow up letter, and a thank you letter after an interview,” Palonsky said. “They learn interviewing skills and have to do research before they meet with a potential employer.”

Students from Ross University, Brown Mackie College, the University of Miami and Florida International University also volunteer at the clinic to gain experience in their fields.

Gisela Bretones, an MDC student, coordinates the schedules of the doctors, students and patients at the clinic. She says more than 7,000 people a year are helped at MRM.

Anthony Ugene Durden is one of those.

“The Mission has changed my life. I am clean and sober now, going on eight years, married with a family, fully employed with a lighting company,” Durden said. “I’m a youth minister at my church, and I am the president of a non-profit organization. We help people in nursing homes and hospitals. We talk to people who are on the streets.”

Though Blackman’s life faced major reconstruction, he recently got married and was among the finalists in an elevator pitch contest—a forum where start-up business ideas are pitched— at the University of Miami this November.

In addition, Blackman took charge of a green cleaning business, Squeaky Cleaning Services, LLC.  
It is more than a company, he says.

“Squeaky Cleaning Services is a second chance company,” Blackman said. “I want to expand my business because I want to give others a second chance at life, like I was fortunate to have.” 

Miami Rescue Clinic
2020 NW 1st avenue  
Miami, FL 33127
(305) 571-2211

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