SAN ANTONIO – Kenneth Anderlitch struggled with alcoholism and addiction since he was 14.
“Showing up to school drunk was the normal thing for me. I was in and out of prison and in and out of homelessness,” Anderlitch said.
It was a vicious cycle that Anderlitch wanted to get out of, but didn’t know how.
“If you’re kind of not sure on how to find that change within yourself, you’re going to go back to what you know. And what I know is, is just to drink and use,” he said.
Anderlitch even lost his mother to substance use when he was 19.
He was only able to find his way out of the cycle when he found the program Pay it Forward in San Antonio.
“This program works for those who don’t know exactly what to do after rehab, but they want to find that change like I did,” Anderlitch said.
Anyone who has experienced homelessness and gone through treatment can apply to live at the Pay it Forward sober living center located on Haven for Hope’s campus.
“They need a place to be safe, a place that’s supportive, a place that provides accountability, a place for people to do it together. You don’t do it alone. If we had wanted to recover alone, we would have done it a long time ago. We needed to do it in the group,” said Pay it Forward CEO Hamilton Barton.
Barton knows, because he’s in recovery himself.
He said it’s important that Pay it Forward be a one-stop-shop for clients to live, recover, find a job, get ID recovery, and many other things.
Clients come to Pay it Forward from many different treatment centers
“Anywhere, whether it was here on campus, whether it was with Lifetime Recovery or Alpha home for women, whether it was one of the prison treatment centers,” Barton said.
The Pay it Forward sober living facility is right on the Haven for Hope campus. It has 46 beds for men and 30 for women.
Clients can live there for up to one year and access all of Haven for Hope’s programs too.
Anderlitch said the program saved him and he’s finding an eye-catching way to spread the word.
During his recovery, he used running as an outlet, eventually completing 30- to 100-mile runs.
“Running is not the only thing that keeps me afloat. It’s just a tool for me, and this tool that I have is essentially helping, hopefully, our community,” Anderlitch said.
Starting the day after Thanksgiving, he will run and walk an average of 50 miles a day for three weeks, from El Paso to Logansport, Louisiana.
“It’s going to be new people, new experiences, new pains, new bumps in the roads to run across. And I think that’s kind of how my the recovery works as well. It’s something new every day that you deal with, and you just use what you have,” Anderlitch said.
He has a crew that will travel with him and support him in his mission.
“Some people, unfortunately, in other cities have to find help on their own. I want this to bring awareness to other cities of that missing link, like why are people getting out of rehab but then instantly going back into the same thing?” Anderlitch said.
He hopes the enormous task will get people talking about transitional programs like Pay it Forward.
“I know that phone feels like 1,000 pounds when you’re trying to reach out for help,” he said.
To those currently struggling with addiction, Anderlitch hopes they’ll pick up the phone anyway, and find out they’re not alone.
Anderlitch is now the senior program manager at Haven for Hope, giving back in that way, too.
Anyone interested in getting help through Pay it Forward can call 210-212-2926 or go to the website.