“We have a good relationship today,” says Easten B., of his daughter Zoe, an accomplished high school sophomore.
But things weren’t always that way. Easten was absent for six years of Zoe’s life battling drugs, alcohol, and homelessness. Since getting clean and sober almost three years ago, a lot has changed for Easten and Zoe. “It all started at Hooper,” he says, referring to Central City Concern’s Hooper Detox, where life took a dramatic turn for the better. It was there, in 2009 that Easten committed to “living a life free of fear, shame, and regret.” He wanted to be a good dad and he wanted to pursue his dream of owning a farm like his great-great grandfather once did.
Soon after completing treatment at Hooper Detox, Easten was accepted into Central City Concern’s Recovery Mentor Program, which included supportive housing in an alcohol- and drug-free environment at the Estate Hotel. He was surrounded by people who were hungry for a new way of life and positive change. He worked with CCC counselors and fellow residents to get and stay healthy. He joined the Community Volunteer Corps (CVC) and engaged in group projects that involved everything from pulling ivy at the Oregon Zoo to folding newsletters at the Hollywood Senior Center in northeast Portland.
“CVC gave me a sense of purpose—that is so important in early recovery.”
The following year he secured a 6-month trainee position in Central City Concern’s Downtown Clean and Safe program. He was able to get into a daily routine that not only added structure to his life, but also helped build self-esteem.
While in treatment at the Central City Concern Recovery Center, a counselor told Easten to work every day to get better. He told Easten to beware of life’s plateaus and to keep reaching for more.
So Easten has kept reaching. He recently began work with Progress Rail, a contracting company for Union Pacific Railroad, doing maintenance, safety tests, and inspections on train cars in the field. The job has enabled him to get his own apartment in northwest Portland. It’s a long way from the tent he used to live in under the St. Johns Bridge.
He’s also kept reaching in another important way: to be a good Dad to Zoe. To Easten, that means being “available, patient, understanding, and willing to love unconditionally.” Easten doesn’t want the disease of addiction to take away anymore birthdays, holidays, or opportunities to participate in his daughter’s life.
“I wasn’t good at being a dad the first time around, and I’m so grateful to get another chance. I taught Zoe to fish and to skateboard. And now I’m teaching her to drive.”
Zoe is a standout student who makes her father proud. He sees unlimited potential in the effort she puts forth every day in and out of the classroom.
“She’s in a Technical Theater Program and signs fluently. Her choir took first place in a big competition this year and she competed in Battle of the Books. She’s a good student who’s outgoing and cares a lot for others. All of this is a big deal to me,” says Easten. “She’s going to be great ... I know it.”
“My mind and body are healthier than ever now,” Easten shares. “I couldn’t have done any of this without Central City Concern.”
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Honor Easten or any father by making a donation to Central City Concern today.