Man once addicted to drugs, alcohol counseling others at Bethesda Mission


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Harrisburg shelter didn’t turn anyone away on this Christmas and made sure those in need got a hot meal and a warm bed. Around 300 people received a Christmas dinner at the Bethesda Mission, but the path wasn’t always easy for those helping the homeless and less fortunate.

“I’m what you call a junkie. Whatever it took. Crack, cocaine, heroin, alcohol,” Barry Lee Davis said.

Davis spent time in jail for assault, theft, and robbery. His problems stemmed from anger.

“When I was playing midget football, we’d get a little beer, wine, and things like that,” Davis said. “It made me feel good, but it also anesthetized that anger.”

Davis came to the Bethesda Mission for treatment 21 years ago. Now, he’s a counselor and has helped thousands of men once in his shoes for the past 19 years.

“I didn’t know about me, and he taught me how to recognize to love myself,” said Israel Cottman, who Davis counseled.

Davis is helping people learn to love themselves and others year round and on Christmas Day.

“I have seen Barry come from just beginning to grasp that life again, that hope again, and coming through and saying, ‘If I can do it, anybody can do it,” said Ken Ross, director of Partnerships and Relationships at the Bethesda Mission.

“It’s gratifying,” Davis said. “Very much so. It makes you realize that life is worth living.”

Davis says the most important part of counseling men at the shelter is listening and teaching them not to suppress their feelings with drugs and alcohol.

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