THIRTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD Branden Gard is in a happy, loving marriage, and his wife has a baby on the way in February. He was full of emotion as he admitted that 15 years ago, he never would have expected to be here, let alone starting a family, because of his crippling addiction to drugs and alcohol.
“My whole life, I’ve always said I was gonna be a husband and a father,” he said. “The only thing standing in my way was my addiction to opiates and alcohol. It was harder than it seemed just to change absolutely everything in my life, but I never gave up hope.”
That hope, combined with a recovery program about an hour and a half away in Floyd, Virginia, is what got him back on his feet.
Robbie Maddox leads the faith-based Eagles Nest recovery program that originated in Floyd.
“We are a Christ-centered ministry, working with adult males between 18 and 80,” Maddox said.
Gard was just one of the thousands of men Maddox helped through the nine-month program.
“The guys go to classes in the mornings and work during the day,” he said. “We have various work sites where the guys go out and learn how to do a good day’s work with a good attitude, and we know this work helps us provide them a place to stay.”
Gard was one of the men who stood out in a positive way during his program, so he was asked to join the staff to lead other men during their fight against addiction. After five years on staff, the opportunity arose for him to move a little north to Lynchburg to replicate the program here.
“He had all the goods and all the training, and that has always been a treasure. So we sat him down and told him we think this would be a good step to take in this role, and we gave him a chance to pray about it,” Maddox said.
Gard came back and said he knew in his heart that this was what he was supposed to do.
Now, he doesn’t look back.
“That’s what brought me to Lynchburg. They thought that I would be the best candidate to be the program director here to run the paint sites and the program,” Gard said.
They partner with Thomas Road Baptist Church, who donated their recovery ministry to the Eagle’s Nest program under contract. They also run a paint company to give the men jobs to fill and raise funds to allow the program to continue.
This recovery program has been helping men in Lynchburg since August of 2021, and Gard said there are probably close to a thousand men who have benefited from his hard work and the program.
“There is really no number because you help one person, and that person helps two people, then four, so there is really no telling how many have benefited from this. But it is a lot of guys,” he said.
He felt grateful when he said there is really no better feeling than giving back to others who may have been facing the same thing you went through in your own life.
“We are helping the community with addiction, with our paint company, and also helping to share the gospel,” Gard said.
He hopes this program will continue to help people in his community for a long time to come.
“Now that I have learned from my mistakes, I can use my testimony to help other people who struggle with the same things,” he said.
His advice to others who may have lost hope is to know they are truly loved and that his program is here for them.
“We all make mistakes,” he said. “That doesn’t make you a mistake. Realistically, I think anybody would be good for this program.”
He wants to see other men who have struggled with addiction look forward to something as fulfilling as a baby on the way, just as he is. At the end of the day, that is why he chose to lead this program. He said it is easy to feel hopeless, but recovery from addiction is possible, and he stands as the living proof. GN