Dedicated wholeheartedly to rescuing addicts, regenerating men and reconciling families, No Longer Bound (NLB) has become one of our nation’s premier regeneration centers for men with drug and alcohol addiction.
It all began with Vietnam veteran Mike Harden, who returned home from the war battling a different kind of enemy — cocaine. After losing everything dear to him, he credits God for saving him from this destructive dependency, and he founded NLB in Cumming. During the past 25 years, more than 1,200 lives have been saved.
The organizers of NLB have created four industries to support the ministry: thrift stores, custom furniture, printing/graphics and repurposing used vehicles. The upscale thrift stores feature a large selection of furniture, home accessories and clothing. A new 10,000-square-foot store has opened at 1910 Eagle Drive in Woodstock. “It is such a peaceful place to work, and knowing the work I do is serving a greater need blesses me daily,” store manager Bethany Monroe said. Where else can you hear “Thanks for saving a life!” when you check out?
Along with the thrift stores in Woodstock and Cumming, men in the NLB program make custom-designed reclaimed furniture, operate a full-service printing and graphics company called NLB Studios, and accept donations of vehicles of all types for Cars4Recovery. These industries provide 75 percent of the ministry’s funding.
Your shopping dollars provide support for the 12-month program in which men live in community with other former addicts, spend time in classes, work in the ministry’s four industries and attend church on Sunday. Approximately 80 men graduate from NLB per year. The organization’s leadership and teaching staff is made up mostly of graduates from the program. Executive Director Edward Bailey is a former meth addict who once was a resident (2004). “We don’t use the word rehab here,” said Benjamin Feltman, NLB thrift director. “To rehabilitate is to restore to former capacity. We desire regeneration — a re-creation of our men — a makeover into a way better condition. God accomplishes this over and over at NLB.”
Out of the many men who’ve been through the program, alumni member Lake Barrett stands out. After experiencing the death of his grandfather to suicide, he went through a whirlwind of painful events. “I was doing IV heroin, meth and cocaine every day,” Lake said. “I was living in and out of projects, abandoned apartments,
cars … that is, unless I was in rehab somewhere. All together, I’ve been through 18 programs, including NLB twice. I will always say, going back to NLB was the best decision I’ve ever made. It was a scary, painful, beautiful and most joyful time in my life — all in one.”
Lake celebrated his three-year sober date on Nov. 1, 2016. He recently finished school to be a certified addiction counselor and stays active in the NLB alumni group and 12-step communities, while continuing to invest in young people who need help staying sober.
Community support for the thrift store is needed, through donations and volunteer hours. A program called Excess Matters gives churches a chance to partner with NLB; church members donate household items, and the store returns a portion of the value of those items in the form of gift cards that can be used by the church to help people in need. For more information, call call 678-679-1172 or visit: www.nlbthrift.com or www.nolongerbound.com.
By Susan Schulz, contributing writer