Ron Duszak spends his free time strumming his guitar. It gives him a sense of peace.
That’s not something he’s always had. Like many, he’s had his demons. He hoped joining the military at a young age would be enough to free him.
“I struggled with drugs and alcohol from an early age,” said Duszak. “I really did want to serve my country. I thought I’d use that as a last-ditch effort to try to get my stuff together, and over time it just didn’t end up working out.”
Duszak spent only a year in the Navy before he was dismissed for drug use. For years he tried to stop.
“At the end, I had no more bottoms to reach and I knew it,” said Duszak, “My end was death and it was close.”
Luckily for him, he found music.
“I carried a guitar with me everywhere I went,” he said, “All of my free time, I never let myself get into myself, so to say, and I just spent all my time learning to play that instrument.”
Now 22 years sober, Duszak is using his experience to help others. Just For Today in Lemoyne provides services for recovering addicts and veterans. Duszak knows it can be difficult to even step foot inside.
“Vets and addicts have something in common: that they’re really stubborn to receive,” he said, “Someone needs the help more than me, so I’m not going to take it. I still struggle with that, even today.”
Duszak wants to open a space at Just For Today where people suffering can come together and jam, whether they know how to play or not. He says this will be his way of repaying a debt.
“Others gave to me, so in order to keep what I have, I have to understand what it means to give it away and this is just one of the ways I do it,” he said.
Duszak needs money to make his vision a reality. That’s why he came up with the Finding Freedom Festival. What started as a small backyard fundraiser has grown into an all-day music festival on City Island in Harrisburg. There will be 10 bands performing on the ball field.
The event is Saturday, Aug. 17 beginning at 11 a.m. Ticket prices range from $10 to $20. If you can’t make it but still want to help, Duszak will be collecting old instruments to use in the program.
For more information on the Finding Freedom Festival, visit https://www.milb.com/harrisburg/fans/festival.
For more information on Just For Today Recovery and Veterans Support Services, visit https://www.jft-rvss.org/.