When Jose Velasco, an alcoholic, looked for help, he was consuming a bottle of whiskey per day. He drank while working as a carpenter and got fired.
“You see that nobody likes you, that they distance themselves from you because you are an undesirable person,” Velasco said.
He fell into depression.
“I started to look for a way to commit suicide without feeling pain,” he said. “I did not want to live, but I was not capable of taking my life.”
That was when Velasco accepted a friend’s invitation to a seminar hosted by Nuevo Caminar (meaning “new path”), a nonprofit Catholic ministry in Hialeah dedicated to providing support for people recovering from addictions and for their families, regardless of religion, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
“I left the seminar with no desire to drink,” Velasco said. “I have been free for two years and three days from all those errors I had in my past.”
On April 22-24, Velasco will volunteer at a seminar like the one where he began his recovery. The event will take place at 6 p.m. at Nuevo Caminar, 4538 Palm Ave.
“Jose remained in the group, helping other people. That is the beauty of this organization,” said Ramon Cabrera, who founded Nuevo Caminar in 2001. “What he received for free, he is giving to others for free.”
Besides seminars, Nuevo Caminar offers free sessions during the week. On Mondays, the group discusses the 12 steps to recovery.
“Honesty, faith, hope, humility, perseverance, self-control, fraternity, courage, willingness, service, awareness, integrity — these steps are a way of life,” Cabrera said.
On Wednesdays, a professional therapist visits the recovering victims of addiction and their families, and on Fridays, they meet to prepare emotionally for the weekend.
“What is spoken stays within the group,” Cabrera said. “For the person in recovery, the weekend is the most difficult time: It is when there is more temptation.”
If a person needs professional help, they are referred to Comprehensive Treatment Center, where they receive free counseling for three months after paying the admission fee of $50.
“An addiction attacks the body, heart and soul,” Cabrera said. “We do not only help addicts but also the families, so that there is total restoration.”
Like Velasco, most of the volunteers at Nuevo Caminar were once addicts or codependents.
“Everything I lived was an experience that I share with others,” Velasco said. “I would have liked to have met this family at Nuevo Caminar 20 years ago when I was in the world of sin.”
Those who are battling alcohol, drug and gambling addictions, or their codependents can join Nuevo Caminar at any time.
“There are persons who do not have to wait until they hit bottom but instead recognize, get some awareness and say, ‘I need help.’ They come here because they look for that help and we are here to help them,” Cabrera said.
If you go
▪ What: Nuevo Caminar
▪ Where: 4538 Palm Ave., Hialeah, Fl. 33012
▪ When: Seminar 6 p.m. April 22-24, free. Weekly meetings 8 to 10 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
▪ Contact: 305-863 3355