He traded drugs for art. Former resident Calvin Moore made this exchange after a long hard journey that has a happy ending.
His story has a painful beginning. His father deserted the family when Calvin was 5, and the family moved from Baltimore, Maryland, to Florida, and eventually to Montgomery. After his mother’s death from a gunshot wound when he was 16, Calvin said, “I raised myself.” He lived sometimes with his verbally abusive brother and on the streets, using drugs and being in and out of prison. Somewhere along the way in Montgomery, he met a man named Buck, who became his friend and mentor, and who stuck by him, visiting him in prison during his incarcerations.
During one of these stints in prison, a preacher’s words struck a chord with Calvin and he vowed to change his life. He has done just that. He landed at Renascence on parole in 2012 and stayed a year. During that time, local artist Mark Montoya, taught art classes to the residents, and for Calvin, this took hold in a big way. He continues to paint today in his own studio—a room in 2Cities Church on Lee Street, where he attends services every Sunday. He cleans the church weekly and they have given him a car in addition to this room, where the walls are covered with his paintings, certificates, and other things of value to him.
Asked what during his year at Renascence had the most impact, he didn’t hesitate: “Mr. Wise.” Dereck Wise is our House Superintendent who has been with us since before we opened for residents. An ex-felon and former drug addict himself, Dereck loves and understands these men like someone who hasn’t “been there” himself never could. Calvin said that although he was firm, he always knew that Mr. Wise had his interest at heart and would tolerate no drugs. After he left Renascence in 2013 with a job at Big Lots, Calvin’s friend and mentor Buck helped him find an apartment and led him to 2Cities Church. A few months ago, he was hired to become a weekend House Manager at Renascence, and in addition to his job at Big Lots, this room made it possible for him to follow his passion for painting. Soon he plans to marry a woman whom he met 5 years ago at his apartment building, a woman who “doesn’t even know what drugs look like.” Calvin’s story is a fine example of how the right influence and the right people can turn a person’s life around.
Reprinted from Halfway Home newsletter, Winter 2018