It is easy to give when you have so much, but what about after you’ve lost it all?
Matt Lever describes his life in vivid detail — binge drinking as a teenager, experimenting with drugs, and eventually hitting bottom after a series of felony charges and dangerous situations. But he credits his troubled life for leading him to where he is now: Providing a helping hand and healing thoughts for those who find themselves caught in the cycle of addiction.
Sober now for 13 years, he recently founded Prodigal Ministries, a non-profit near Augusta, GA, that helps other men rebuild lives ravaged by alcohol and drugs.
“I didn’t have a lot of money, but I had a vision,” says Matt, a father of three who has worked as a plumber most of his life and now also volunteers at Prodigal Ministries. “I started praying about the epidemic going on, praying about how my experience could allow me to help others.”
For years, Matt tried to beat his addiction on his own. After a night of heavy drinking and drug use, he was coming down from a high, angry and causing a scene. And that’s when he saw his four-year-old son hiding in fear. It was a sobering moment that changed his life.
“It just took one night of hard drugs for me to get hooked, and then my life began to spiral out of control,” he says. “I was ready for God to take my life. I was ashamed of who I had become. I wanted to die.”
Addiction is not a battle to fight alone.
Today, Matt and other volunteers operate Prodigal Ministries, a non-profit, residential recovery home for those fighting the same battles Matt once did. Blessed with a supportive community willing to help, his vision quickly turned into a reality complete with 501(c)(3) status, bank accounts, volunteers and two homes that house 12 men and a full-time staff member.
Next, Matt hopes to add other homes for women recovering from addiction.
“Recovery is tough work,” says Matt. “No race is above this disease, no age, no gender. Some people come in and sober up, but then they get sucked right back in. They can end up back in jail or even die from their body’s reaction to the drugs.
“We offer a safe place to start over, a way to get back on track.”
Cingo means to surround and secure — to protect. That’s what we do. And we have a lot of respect for those who take it upon themselves to make protection a part of what they do, too. That’s why we’ve launched Circle & Shield, our award to a member of the community who helps make the world a better place, a safer place.