“I only see one other thing – it’s either back in jail or dead,” confesses the broken man on The Relief Bus video. The video shows him sitting in the Relief Bus counseling office being connected to a Christian drug rehab. Now, one year later, Melvin Henderson is drug-free and preparing to go to college to be a counselor.
Melvin grew up in a Bronx neighborhood where getting high was seen as normal. “If you didn’t get high, there was something wrong with you,” he explained. By age 16, he was heavily involved in the drug scene. Twenty years later, his life was completely unmanageable, drugs were his main priority. He worked to get high. He lived on the streets for weeks at a time even though he had his own place. Stealing and fighting were part of this lifestyle. “It was hell,” he says. “The only thing is… that I didn’t see it. When you live in misery, you get used to it.”
Melvin had come to The Bus a few times to get food. When he came on April 19th 2001, he was completely exhausted. When one of the volunteers chatted with him as he sat on the steps sipping his soup, he was ready for change. He poured out the agony of his heart in The Bus office. As Outreach Director Dave Anderson listened, every word was recorded. A film crew was shooting footage for New York City Relief’s (NYCR) new video that day. “That might have saved my life,” he commented later.
Dave connected Melvin with a Christian rehabilitation center, where he stayed for six months and began the process of change. After a month back in the streets and drinking, he came to his senses. “I’m going to be dead, if I continue this.” This time he found a detox and another treatment center where he has continued his recovery.
Life is a struggle at times, but for Melvin, being free of drugs is worth the struggle. He had tried to be free before but could not do it. “I wasn’t ready before… God was instrumental in this. I guess it just was my time.”
Written in 2002.