WPDE: Homeless to hopeful: 1 veteran says a golf program helped him through addiction recovery

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WPDE) — Two non-profit organizations are giving back to veterans through the game of golf.

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Project Golf works with vets recovering from addiction, disabilities and other hardships to get them back on their feet.

On Tuesday night, veterans, donors, and employees from ECHO and Project Golf gathered to talk about the importance of what golf can add to these vets’ lives.

One veteran said through his continuing journey in recovery, this program has taken him from homeless to hopeful.

After leaving the Air Force and working as a private chef for celebrities in Nashville, Tennessee, Mark Jacobs, said his life took a turn for the worst.

“I got hooked on cocaine. For about the past 20 years, I’ve been a heavy cocaine user,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs made the move to Myrtle Beach in October and started his journey to recovery.

The Eastern Carolina Housing Organization helps veterans, like Jacobs, get off the streets and receive essentials like clothes and food. The organization also helps some even find jobs.

“I get to work in their kitchen. That is a blessing, it really is because I really enjoy it,” Jacobs said. “I threw down for Thanksgiving, I really did. I really threw down for Thanksgiving and I got so much pleasure out of that.”

Kim Pike, the veteran’s service manager at ECHO, said vets are also introduced to Project Golf during their recovery journey.

“The golf game gave them an opportunity to bond with their fellow veterans, learn some good golf skills, correct some old habits and it’s really something for them to look forward to,” Pike explained.

Bill Golden, the founder of Project Golf, said they just started the program during the pandemic.

“By providing golf and giving a purpose by providing community, providing, you know the ability to talk to other vets and the ability to come out and have some fun, smile, laugh,” said Golden.

Which is the same time Jacobs says he lost everything because of his addiction.

“I was homeless and I was sleeping in Fayetteville, North Carolina at Festival Park on their amphitheater stage,” Jacobs said.

But, Jacobs said between the program at ECHO and finding a new passion through Project Golf, he’s recovering with a bigger support system than he ever could’ve imagined.

“I got to meet some really wonderful people,” he said. “Got to be able to share, we were able to share our stories and share the brotherhood of actually being in service to our country.”

Jacobs said Tuesday was a big day for him as he’s celebrating being 60 days clean and drug-free.

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