Journey of A Man

"I wasn't raised to be the person I have become......."

Written By: Jaclyn Mule

In 1970, a 14 year old mother, gave birth to James Leon Hemphill. James was raised by his grandmother who lived only 2 blocks from the location which is now known as Georgia Works! His mother "a child herself," provided for James and the rest of his family the best way she could. James was 1 out of 11 grandchildren, living in an environment where you had to learn how to survive. Soon, James found himself selling drugs as a source of income and as a method of fitting into his community. It was not an easy profession. He became addicted to alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana. In addition, James had traumatizing memories of his childhood. A High School classmate with a promising football career at Georgia Tech was killed after he too, committed murder. James has been shot 3 times and stabbed 27 while working in the drug circuit.

James Hemphill became homeless in 2011 after spending his earnings on drugs and alcohol. He moved into his mother's home, where he remained for 4 years. After the death of his mother, James found himself homeless and grieving her loss. 

It was shortly after, when "reality hit him." He goes on to say, "My mother had always said, I was too old for this. Clean yourself up." The day of the funeral, I woke up and knew I had to get my life back together."

James Hemphill used that mindset to propel himself to Georgia Works! Currently, he is working in construction. He loves it. Georgia Works! is helping him full fill his hopes for the future. He wants his life back. He wants to become financially secure.

"I wasn't raised to be the person I am," said Hemphill. "This time, failure is not an option."


"If They Can Do It, I can Do it"

Written By Jaclyn Mule

            Raised in a loving, single-parent environment, Ashton Sanders prospered academically throughout middle school. However, he began to make poor choices in high school due to influence from his girlfriend, who introduced him to marijuana and cigarettes. After dropping out of Redan High School in 10th grade, Sanders worked odd jobs at fast-food restaurants and then as a bartender. He eventually dabbled in cocaine and drank daily, a habit that led to jail time when he committed assault under the influence of alcohol. “I done some felonious things,” said Sanders. “I ended up losing everything, flying by night, never knew where I would be.” 

            Sanders’ homelessness began three months ago, when he lost his job after showing up drunk and was alienated by his family. He stayed in hotel rooms until his money ran out, and then at the Atlanta Mission. It was there that a delegate from Georgia Works! inspired Sanders to join the program and change his life for the better. Although relatively new to the Georgia Works! community, Sanders has been clean for over forty days, and became hopeful for the future after getting a job in Construction: “I’m changing my ways,” said Sanders. “I’m tired of being tired.”

            Georgia Works! will help him achieve his goals of full-time employment, owning a “place” and car “of [his] own,” and becoming a “productive citizen again” through encouraging self-sustainability: “They say, once an addict, always an addict,” said Sanders. “But I know people who have stopped. If they can do it, I can do it.”

 A Charismatic Recovering Alcoholic

“This program is reeducating me and teaching me to be self-sufficient."

Written by Jaclyn Mule

            Raiford Favors, a charismatic, 52-year-old recovering alcoholic, first began drinking and smoking marijuana at the age of thirteen. He hoped that associating with the “party crowd” would be a remedy for the “loneliness” he experienced throughout his childhood. Despite his mother’s wish for him to continue his education, he dropped out of high school in the tenth grade and eventually became an electrician. He sometimes skipped work due to hangovers, unable to fully participate in his job. Although he tried to pay $61 per month in child support for his two sons, he soon fell into $8000 of debt. “I couldn’t finish anything,” said Favors. “I was lost.”

            When Favors became homeless in 2006, he finally realized the seriousness of his predicament, and went to the Salvation Army. Currently, Georgia Works! is helping him achieve his goals of paying back his debts and having a license for the first time in 21 years. “I work on myself every day,” said Favors. “This program is reeducating me and teaching me to be self-sufficient.”