ARC grad celebrates 20 years with Salvation Army

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“I’m not ready to leave the boys.” 

By Patty Zamora – 

To look at Anthony Mitchell, you can’t help but smile. He’s always friendly and in a positive mood – ready to greet you with a big smile. It’s contagious.

This year marks Mitchell’s 20th anniversary with The Salvation Army. It all began when he entered the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in San Diego.

ARC provides a safe haven for men and women with addictions. Today, the ARC is home to 130 men and women and provides them with food, counseling, spiritual guidance and the tools they will need to make it on their own once they finish the six-month program. It’s all free of charge thanks to donations.

Back in 1999, Mitchell was at the lowest point of his life, battling alcoholism. He had severed ties with friends and family, including his four kids (two boys, two girls), then-wife and mother. He’s never forgotten the look of disappointment in his children’s eyes during those dark days. He never wants to go back there and hasn’t, thanks to the program and his new work family.

Anthony Mitchell and his family

As soon as he graduated from the program, Mitchell was offered a full time position. He continues to be one of the Center’s most valued employees. 

“I just enjoy coming here and doing what I do. I never miss a beat,” said Mitchell.

He has risen through the ranks, first working in the yard, then as the auction supervisor to third floor clothing supervisor. Today, Mitchell is the dock foreman but to the men going through the program, he’s much more.

“Anthony is a great guy – one of a kind. He’s got a great attitude and inspires a lot of people around here,” said Mike Ervin, ARC Transportation Supervisor.

He has become a mentor to the men following in his footsteps. Having gone through the program, he knows what the men are going through and is always happy to give advice and encouragement.

He has seen it all and has enjoyed every minute of it. “It’s a big part of who I am,” he said. 

Today Mitchell is remarried and has reunited with his siblings, kids and 9 grandkids. He also sees a renewed sense of pride in his mother’s eyes, who still calls him her baby.

He’s come to depend on the ARC as it has come to depend on him. He credits The Salvation Army for saving his life.

When asked if he’s ready to retire, Mitchell said, “I’m not ready to leave the boys.” 

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