Salvation Army program helped Everett shop owner kick cocaine habit

Bryan McClimans calls his Everett shop Second Chance Secondhand. The name describes his merchandise and his life.

Inside the Hewitt Avenue store are collectibles, antiques and pieces of used furniture. There are vintage toys, dining tables, lamps, music stands, moose antlers and so much more. Like the goods he sells, McClimans has been reclaimed.

Nearly five years ago, he had lost everything — homes, jobs and marriages — to a long-standing cocaine habit. He was about 20 in the early 1980s when he started snorting coke in bars. “Cocaine just grabbed me,” said McClimans, 53.

In his shop Monday, he held up his cellphone to show an app that logs the time he’s been clean and sober. “Four years, seven months, 10 days,” he said.

McClimans shares his road to recovery to possibly help others struggling with addiction. He credits his second chance to nine months he spent at a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Seattle’s SoDo area. With nothing to his name, he entered the no-cost live-in program May 11, 2011. He stayed there until Feb. 6, 2012.

Help included counseling and spiritual mentoring. He attended Salvation Army church services and took part in a 12-step recovery program. He worked long days processing donations to be sold in the Salvation Army Family Thrift Store that supports the rehab program. And he relearned steps to managing his life — habits as basic as getting up early, showering and making his bed.

“Whatever happened at the Salvation Army changed me,” said McClimans, who lives in an Everett clean-and-sober house.

About three years ago, he opened his secondhand store at 1307 Hewitt Ave., the spot formerly occupied by Jack’s Bar &Grill.

McClimans once owned a house at Smokey Point. He worked as a car salesman for a local dealership. “I lost two marriages, my house and car,” he said. Raised in Yakima, he spent years in the Wenatchee area. He worked as a roofer for his former father-in-law, and later became a commercial truck driver. McClimans said he didn’t drive high, but would take long weekends and use drugs.

For years, “I lived on a fence,” said McClimans, meaning he existed between the world of “dopers” and people who didn’t use. His lack of a criminal record is due more to luck than to law-abiding behavior during his bad years. He once quit a good job because he knew he couldn’t pass a drug test.

By 2011, his luck had run out. McClimans said he was on a Marysville street with nowhere to go when he ran into someone he knew from the Salvation Army in Everett. That man helped him get into the rehab center in Seattle. McClimans had been in rehab before. The Salvation Army center was one more chance.

The Salvation Army’s Capt. Timothy Rockey is administrator of the Seattle Adult Rehabilitation Center, which has 100 beds for men and 11 women’s beds.

People in the free program, called “beneficiaries,” stay a minimum of six months. A second phase helps with legal issues, drivers licenses, child support, “all kinds of baggage,” Rockey said. And phase three “is re-entry, hopefully into a sober living environment.”

Rockey said the program gets no support from Red Kettle donations, but is funded by donations and sales at Salvation Army thrift stores. A new Family Thrift Store opened last year in Shoreline.

Sorting donated items helps people in the program become work-ready. They learn to “show up early and be counted on and ready to work,” Rockey said. “So many folks in our population have been unemployed for a very long time.”

When McClimans left the program, he kept up his recovery work and built a business from nothing. “You’re not fixed when you get out. It’s game day when you leave there,” he said.

He had once been in the Air Force, and received $400 from a veterans agency that helped him rent a room in Everett. He began holding garage sales, starting with free items he found online. Since moving into his shop, he has repainted the place. Other vendors are now selling goods there. McClimans said he barely makes his rent, but he’s staying clean.

Grateful for his second chance, he happily tells others about his salvation. “I filled that gap,” he said.

The program isn’t magic.

“You’ve got to want it,” Rockey said. “If someone hungers for recovery, that’s over half the battle.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Learn more

The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center is at 1000 Fourth Ave. S., Seattle. Information: 206-587-0503 or www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/adult-rehabilitation

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