Then: Matthew Morris—substance abuser, homeless person, criminal life. Now: 51-year old 4.0 student, B.A. candidate in Human Services Administration at Catholic University, and president of a nonprofit organization.

The journey from addict to 4.0 University student was long and hard, but Matthew stayed the course and overcame seemingly insurmountable challenges. The youngest son in a close-knit Catholic family, Matthew joined the Navy after high school to serve his country. While he was on active duty, a pickup truck rammed his car and ended life as he knew it.

Matthew suffered severe injuries to vertebrae in his neck and back and developed degenerative conditions in his arms, legs, and spine. In constant pain, he became addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol. Trying to quit numerous times, he repeatedly relapsed.

“God and my 12-step program working together now allow me this magnificent life.”
– Matthew Morris

It was only when Matthew asked the Lord and kind people in a 12-step program for help that his life began a positive trajectory. “God and my 12-step program working together now allow me this magnificent life. I’d still be homeless and lost without them.”

Matthew accepted help through The Men’s Home, a residential sober house in Alexandria, Va. With a newfound personal relationship with God and help from those in the program, he triumphed over his addiction and has stayed clean for more than 12 years.

Matthew’s injuries are so severe that he is now classified as a 100% Disabled Veteran. His doctors advised him that some exercise was mandatory. To "keep the rust from setting in," Matthew does yoga, physical therapy, and goes to a chronic pain management clinic. Several times a year doctors inject his spine to deaden the nerves to help relieve the pain.

The doctors’ recommendations for exercise ultimately led Matthew to Catholic University. Matthew became a Master Fitness Trainer, leading groups at a residential rehab facility and also becoming a peer mentor there. Because of his condition, he had to stop working as a trainer —  but when a door closes, a window opens. Furthering his ability to help others, he completed the Catholic Charities Institute Professional Counseling Education Program (PCEP).

Catholic University’s representative Joe McDonald then suggested that Matthew apply to the University’s Metropolitan School of Professional Studies. Matthew, now an outstanding student, is thinking big: “ultimately, I dream of opening an alcohol and substance abuse treatment center.” Recently Matthew was elected as president of a nonprofit where he mentors those in recovery.