By James Diehl 

   Bob Carey will never forget 1993. It was a year filled with unspeakable horrors, a 12-month period that saw the former child of privilege officially hit rock bottom, sleeping in the streets of Baltimore with nothing but a few bottles of cheap wine as his only friends.
   Just 36 years old, his life had spiraled downward in a horrific series of events that eventually found him homeless and penniless, with nothing but a single duffle bag to hold his worldly belongings.
   He had no home, no job, no friends and no dignity. He also had no hope to ever turn things around, and wasn’t sure he even wanted to.
   The former private school student and DuPont lab technician tried every day to drink the pain away, even turning to cocaine and heroin at one point – there were many days he wanted to die, anything to stop the hurting.
   He was sleeping behind a  liquor store on the tough streets of Charm City, a forgotten and troubled soul – or so he thought
   .“I was on the edge of giving up on life. It wasn’t until I lost my self respect and my dignity that I really started to see the destructive path that I was on,” says Carey today, two years removed from starting the Delmarva Teen Challenge program in Seaford. “I was finally in a position of total helplessness and hopelessness.”
   At 6-foot-2-inches tall and a mere 138 pounds, Carey was a true skeleton of a man. The alcohol and drugs had taken a terrible toll. He was, in his words, “totally bankrupt, spiritually, physically and mentally.”
  Finally, someone came along who cared, someone who took the broken young alcoholic in and provided a way out – the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel was the Teen Challenge program.
   Carey was sent to Detroit because administrators of the program felt the only way for him to succeed was to have a  


HEROES Series


If you know of someone who has dedicated his or her life to service to others, suggest their names for this series. Contact James Diehi at 392-222-2685 or email Bryant Richardson, brichardson@mspublications.com
 

complete change of scenery. It worked, and a new career, a new mission in life, was born.
   “It was there that God got a hold of me, and I’ve never looked back,” says Carey, who today oversees two dozen young men recovering from problems similar to the ones he once dealt with. “I haven’t looked back, I’ve never relapsed and I’ve never gone back to my old way of life. God has just given me an insatiable appetite to study his word and given me a burden to help other people.”

   

   Carey transformed the old Mission of Hope in Seaford into what is today, Delmarva Teen Challenge, an affiliate ministry of Teen Challenge International. It is a 12-month residential treatment program for men from 18 to 65 years of age who have decided to make positive changes in their lives, and have asked for help in doing so.
   In the little more than two years since Carey started the ministry in Seaford, 75 men have graduated from the program, four drug havens have been closed down in the neighborhood where he ’s taken up shop and the organization has even opened up a new thrift store in the old Edgehill Pharmacy building on Middleford Road, just this past November.
   He makes no excuses about his past and does not try to hide it from the men he attempts to help today – in fact, he uses his experiences to get across his message of hope, resilience and faith-based alternatives.
    Sometimes, it takes hitting rock bottom to make a life-altering change.   “I was absolutely sickened and appalled by where I was at and by what I was doing,”

Delmarva Teen Challenge Executive Director Bob Carey has  enjoyed a tremendous amount of success since returning to his home state of Delaware two years ago. His escape from alcoholism, drug use and homelessness has proved an inspiration to many men who today depend on him for a second chance in their own lives.


says Carey, a graduate of Newark High School and current resident of Bridgeville. “I was trying to drink away all of the physical and the emotional pain. I was as yellow as a dandelion from the jaundice, my teeth were all knocked out from fights in the streets, I hadn’t even taken a shower in four months. It was just awful.”
  It was a remarkable fall for a man who grew up on the 16th fairway of the Newark Country Club, went to a private school and once worked for one of America’s top chemical companies.
   For the 24 men in program, his is a message he tells openly - it's one they simply need to hear.

  


   Once I’ve brought these men in, I befriend them and tell them that I’m here to help them,” says the program director and ordained minister. “I tell them what I did to get the victory in my life, and I offer that to them. It’s up to them whether to accept that or reject it.”   
    For a man to be accepted into the Teen Challenge program, he must be willing to make a major change in his life. In return, Carey and his staff offer a safe environment where people can get off the street and experience a new direction, a new hope, in their lives.

 

 

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MORNING STAR  8 12, 2011

 
 

 

Participants must adhere to strict guidelines, living by rules mandated by Teen Challenge officials. They must dress in appropriate clothing, take turns cleaning their dormitory and attend faith-based classes for a few hours each day. It’s not an easy 12 months, but committing to the program can signal a gigantic change in a man’s life. And a success rate of more than 70 percent speaks volumes about the commitment of Carey, and of the men who take advantage of his program’s services. Many of these men are today where Carey was not all that long ago. He knows what they’ve been through and where they’ve been. He also knows the huge change in direction their lives can take in a relatively short period of time, if they commit wholeheartedly to doing so. Through it all, Carey does not like to accept the accolades he so greatly deserves, preferring to give the glory to a higher power he feels kept him alive for a reason. “I don’t find my identity in my accomplishments. My identity is in Christ alone,” he says with conviction. “I’m thankful and I’m humbled that he has enabled me to have a desire and a passion to impact other people’s lives. My life would have ended

 

 

in total despair and total hopelessness without him, and without this program.”
   Now 53 years old, happily married and the father of three children, Carey sometimes finds it hard to believe where he came from. Having done what he did, having seen what he saw, having experienced what he experienced – how he survived is a question that often creeps into his consciousness.
   “I saw the worst of the worst that was out there on the streets and I had to survive in that environment for a year,” he remembers. “That was one of the things that helped reduce me to a point to throw in the towel. That, and the constant drinking.” With all the hardships and all the trials and tribulations, it’s all worth it every time one of his students successfully completes the Teen Challenge program. “It makes everything that’s hard about discipleship worthwhile,” he says. “Just one person that I can reach, that God has been able to use me to impact positive change in their life, makes all the hurt and the pain and the long hours worth it.”
   To learn more about Delmarva Teen Challenge, which plans to begin ministering to women in the near future, call Carey or his staff at 629-2559 or visit www.delmarvateenchallenge.org