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City People / January 11, 2012 / Freeman Building Center Old Way / Beyond Recovery ministry is helping those fighting drug, alcohol addictions

Winn Freeman says he will work as long as it takes to get the Beyond Recovery Training Center established in northern Greenville County. /ABE HARDESTY/Staff

Money has never been extremely important to Winn Freeman. Had it been, the California native never would have considered serving as director of the Greenville Rescue Mission, where for several years his take-home paycheck was about $75 a week.

Freeman considers that gig well worth his time, however, because it was there that he found his true calling, helping others escape the life-destroying effects of alcohol and drug addiction.

That was his primary goal when he founded the Wisdom in Living Life ministry 12 years ago, with the firm belief that alcohol and drug addictions are not diseases that one must endure for life, but are symptoms of deeper spiritual problems that can be solved.

Freeman says he’s living proof. He saw his family life and two careers crumble as a young man before he hit “hit bottom” at age 32. That was too late to help his younger brother Aaron, who died of a heroin overdose, but more than 20 years of sobriety has convinced him that he can help others.

Freeman, 56, has been doing that since 2000 at a training center near Travelers Rest, where classes and support groups meet regularly to help individuals and families overcome alcohol and drug issues.

The ideal setting for that turnaround, Freeman believes, is a remote Christian-based facility in northern Greenville County. Greenville developer Jim Anthony donated 50 acres for that purpose; several others have provided architectural, engineering, and grading services.

The project received another huge boost recently when the Draxlmaier Automotive of America company donated two former training buildings, both about 2,400 square feet, that will be converted into offices, classrooms and residence quarters for the Beyond Recovery Residential Training Center. The buildings, which already have been placed on land north of Travelers Rest, will be joined by an enclosure, creating 5,000 square feet.

The gifts provide further encouragement to Freeman, who remains optimistic as he builds his mission project the hard way — without debt. It is a slower route, but it’s the one Freeman is convinced he should take.

To date, the project has raised $543,681 in cash and assets. Freeman’s dream is to raise approximately $460,000 more. About half of that amount would complete the building phase; the other half would provide about two years of basic operating expenses.

“God takes care of me as I go,” says Freeman, who makes a modest salary as the director of the nonprofit organization.

Freeman, who founded the Overcomers organization when he worked at Miracle Hill Ministries, had hoped for his prayers to be answered more quickly when he began the project in 2000.

“I thought we’d be in a residential setting in a year or two, but it didn’t work that way,” says Freeman. “But I’ve seen God’s hand in so many things over the last 11 years; I’ve seen so many lives change. I know this is what He wants me to do.

“I don’t look at it in terms of how many months it will take,” Freeman says of the project. “I look at it each day in terms of whether I’m where God wants me to be, and doing what God wants me to do.”

Society’s report card continues to remind Freeman that his program is needed. According to a Tripp Umbach Healthcare Consulting survey, 60 percent of Greenville County residents live with someone or know someone with a substance abuse problem.

“The problem is not going away,” says Freeman. “In recent years, we’re seeing a significant rise in (abuse of) prescription drugs. The problem is going to hurt Greenville families for a long time, and I’m not going anywhere. This is where I’ll fight the battle as long as God wants me to fight it.”

By Abe Hardesty • City People Writer • January 11, 2012 

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