Bell uses past to mold many futures
From drug use to now a community leader, Bo Bell has come a long way from where he thought he would be when he was growing up in Flomaton.
A 1984 Flomaton High graduate, Bell said he had some skills in welding – and drinking and experimenting.
“I got into drinking and experimenting with drugs thinking it would be fun,” Bell said. “It was not fun, and after trying crack cocaine for the first time, I realized quickly that I had an addiction problem.
“That addiction led me on a 10 year journey,” he said. “I was in and out of relationships and jobs and ended up walking and living on the streets of Mobile, sleeping on the street.”
Bell said that he realized he was in over his head and needed help. He also began to feel an urge to help others. He eventually ended up in Mission of Hope Rehabilitation Center near Mobile.
“That rehab got me on my feet again,” Bell said. “To begin with I was a client at the rehab for a few months and then stayed on as a counselor for about two years.”
The rehab offers a number of trades that those people in the program can use to learn a variety of skills. Construction was one of those skills that was taught and practiced there.
“I began to feel that God was calling on me to preach,” he said. “I shared my testimony with the other guys in the treatment center and eventually was ordained into the Full Gospel Church.”
He attended the Pensacola Transformation Church and was ordained there seven years ago. At that time he was working at the Chumuckla Rehab Center.
“I felt the need to birth our own rehab center, and we began with one three-bedroom house and four acres of land in Alco on Pea Ridge. We now have about 280 acres. along with both a men’s and a lady’s dormitory with about 65 people in the program.”
It has taken a few years but the facility, named New Beginnings, has proven itself. It is changing lives every day and this faith based program is not only giving hope to those who had none, it is also preparing them for a future without the disability of what drugs can do.
“No one plans on becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol,” Bell said. “But they also don‘t plan not to be addicted. Drugs are the not the primary reason that people get addicted. It usually is something much deeper that leads one to become addicted to drugs.”
Bell said that 100 percent of those who follow the path the facility offers are successful and so far there have been around 900 who have come through the system offered at New Beginnings.
Bell said their program begins with a 90-day drug treatment, followed by a time of helping the drug-free person back on his feet. They help them get a job, teach them how to manage their money payments and to be a productive citizen in the community. They offer aftercare to help plan a productive life without drugs and alcohol.
New Beginnings has several different programs within its system. It centers around the former addict fitting into society by proving, not only to others, but to himself, that he is worthy and capable to live a drug free life.
The Adopt a Block program takes care of repairs for the less fortunate and the elderly.
Faith Builders Construction is to provide affordable home improvements to those in need.
Compassion for Brewton offers a food bank, clothes closet and soon-to-be thrift store to furnish funds to help the elderly and less fortunate. They even offer a movie night with movies for $3 and facilities serving snacks during the movie. Bell said these are well attended each time they are offered, bringing in money to fund the other projects.
Compassion for Brewton, New Beginnings Worship Center and New Beginnings Restoration Center are all under the umbrella of New Beginnings. They also host a Most Excellence Way substance abuse program on Saturday, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the center on St. Nicholas Avenue. Worship services are held at at the center at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sundays and at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
New Beginnings has come a long way in the few years it has been in operation and the work done by Bell made him one of the recipients of the Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2014.
Along with New Beginnings and what it means to Bell, it has brought him something else. He met and married his wife, Samantha, who had also been in treatment and was working at the center on Pea Ridge. She, too, continues to work there, and the two of them live on the grounds of the facility on Pea Ridge.
“Samantha and I were working together and she was thinking about returning to her home. It suddenly was clear that we were meant to be together. You don’t know who God has for you until you find out who you can’t live without,” said Bell,
“I want to thank all the volunteers and church family for all that they have done to make this venture a success,” he added. “We could not have done it alone.”