Do you believe in redemption? Do you believe in the power and will of man to overcome even the worst of circumstances? After reading the story of Charles Fields and his Pompano Beginners Sober House Outreach Center you will indeed. To truly understand the amazing transformation and journey Charles has been through, as he picked himself from “rock bottom” to becoming a mentor for more than 100 men in recovery, you obviously start from the early years of Charles’ youth.

Charles Fields was born right here in South Florida, in Hallandale to be exact. The youngest of three, Charles had the typical situation too many inner city boys grow up with; absent father and raised by his mother and sister. He was lucky to a degree. There was a family unit. His mother had eight sisters. His many cousins were more like brothers and sisters. As a young boy, Charles was exposed to (and eventually seduced by) the “street life”. He went on to say, “I always wanted more than what we had. It wasn’t all bad, but I wanted more…I saw the cars, the jewelry and the way they were eating well…” Charles was cool. He made friends quickly and easily. The neighborhood park was the hang out spot. Everyone was smoking weed and drinking. “I wanted to fit in…I wanted the attention!”

It wasn’t too long that Charles realized he knew enough people that he could make some real money selling drugs. He started out selling marijuana. He quickly moved into the more lucrative, yet much riskier and dangerous, world of cocaine and crack. “I was a legend in my own mind.” Money came quick, but the problems befell him even quicker. Charles was arrested and even robbed several times, and his worst turn came when he became his “own best customer”. The drug use and dealing were out of control. Charles started burning bridges everywhere and making a lot of enemies on the street. He lost his first son to the Department of Children & Families. His daughters severed ties with him. He was on the run from police looking to lock him up and people in the streets who would sooner see him dead.

“It was a Tuesday, 3:30 in the morning. I cried the entire night. I cried so much [that] I was dehydrated…but I also prayed.” Charles even contemplated suicide that night on the train tracks. That same day, five hours later, Charles was arrested in Hallandale. He doesn’t refer to it as being “arrested” when he tells the story. He says “rescued”. He was now facing FIFTEEN years in prison for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute along with an aggravated assault. He was transferred to Hollywood Police Department due to outstanding charges. There he received a second charge for cocaine that was not found on him during the search when he was booked in Hallandale. He also caught the beating of his life by those same Hollywood Police. After the beating, Charles felt he had a lawsuit and could fight his charges. He was prepared to take it to trial.

In the process of his incarceration, Charles entered the ATAC drug treatment program. It was in this program that Charles Fields’ life would change FOREVER. He witnessed testimony and words of wisdom of one Richard Entriken. Richard was the founder of the First Step Sober House. Charles speaks of his friend, “Richard was the first human being that spoke my language. He identified the problem, but I identified the solution. Listening to him had me so inspired that I began working the 12-Step Program”. To this point of his life, Charles had been arrested a whopping 62 TIMES! After spending one hour with Richard, it all clicked together. Charles would never go back to that life again. “Richard showed me the map to recovery. For me (a 28-year-old black man) to be inspired by a 61-year-old white man was a big deal. A lot of people tried to reach out to me to help, both friends and family. I never listened to any of them, but Richard gave me hope”.

On April 30, 2006, Charles Fields got out of jail. That was the day he arrived at First Step Sober House. Charles walked in and heard perhaps the mostimportant and telling words in his life. Words that he could take to heart knowing someone cared. Richard said to Charles, “Welcome home soldier. The war is over”. Getting on the road to recovery was great for Charles and clearly needed, but Charles still had a major issue. He was facing fifteen years in prison for his drug charges. He went to court and collapsed. He was just too tired to keep fighting the system. He was humble and threw himself at the mercy of the court. He came clean and was ready to give up.

Judge, Marc Gold was impressed with Charles’s progress and the way he approached the situation as a humbled and troubled man who lost it all. A true casualty to the world of drugs, drug dealing and the streets of Broward county. He was granted leniency by the courts and by God. Charles was given 90 days and 3 years probation instead of fifteen years in Hell. When Charles told Richard the news, Richard put it best, “Charles, this is now the first day of your new life.” It was because of that second chance and leniency that Charles was able to go to court and campaign the Second Chance Program. That program helped keep 272 people from going to prison and finding alternative options for rehabilitation through programs of recovery…and were still counting.

Charles became an absolute model of success in the sober house program. He completely gave up drinking and drugs. In the house, he held the following titles: Houseman, Team Leader, and Secretary of the whole program. He regularly attended AA & NA meetings and graduated on May 27, 2007. He got his driver’s license back along with his driving privileges. He got supervised visitation with his children. He paid up his back child support and completed anger management courses, drug evaluations and parenting classes. Charles beamed, “Within one year, I accomplished more than I had in my whole life!”

Things were all going in the right direction for Charles. His compliance with the rules and the program proved the judge made the correct decision to be lenient and give Charles a chance to change his life. Charles moved out of the sober house; however, out of fear of leaving and being on his own right away, he moved right next door. In 2008, the Department of Children & Family closed the case on Charles and his son. He got back custody and rekindled the relationship with his daughter. The judge was so proud of Charles’ progress and his change in attitude, that they ordered the Dept. of Children & Family to pay first, last and security for Charles’ new apartment. His caseworkers were so taken with his commitment to changing his life, they helped him buy toys and clothes for his kid’s birthday and Christmas.

Charles caught the bug. Richard’s passion was rubbing off, and soon after Charles began helping others get clean and sober. He was taking people into his home that needed the help and shelter. Two turned to five, and five turned to ten. Charles was developing his own group that he was helping mentor. However, as things in his life were finally on track, in January of 2008, one of the most catastrophic events occurred in Charles’ life. Richard Entriken was killed in cold blood in a robbery attempt. The robbery took place at a party celebrating Richard’s 16th year of sobriety. The facts of the robbery / murder become all the more troubling when you learn that the trio responsible were all residents of the sober house. They knew Richard was carrying a large sum of rent money collected that he was going to deposit in the bank. The poor excuse for a human being that shot Richard is still currently awaiting trial. After Richard’s death the recovery world was divided. Richard’s message was becoming diluted and some were not staying the course. Richard always used repetition in his teachings, and Charles knew how important that was in helping to remember and understand these teachings.

One of Richard’s key phrases that Charles adopted was, “Boys do what they WANT to do. Men do what they HAVE to do”. Charles put it best when speaking of his mentor Richard, “There was nobody more professional and who reached out and touched so many men as Richard Entriken”. Charles vowed that he would not let Richard and his program die in vain. He made the choice that the sober house was going to continue helping all those that relied on it. Richard’s sober house became the central hub of Pompano Beginners. First Step is now owned by Richard’s partner Christopher Doherty. Christopher is Charles’ director and mentor who Charles now looks up to and goes to for advice. The concept began to take off. In its first six months under Charles Fields, Pompano Beginners expanded to five properties.

Most who were taking advantage of the program were those wrapped up in the world of drugs, alcohol and the legal system. Late in 2008, Charles saw there was a growing need for the homeless. What about those who didn’t have addiction issues, but needed shelter due to other circumstances? Charles started the homeless division of Pompano Beginners creating the coalition to end homelessness.

Pompano Beginners Sober House Outreach Center operates at no expense to tax payers, as it takes no government grants. They provide shelter, food, access to job listings, AA and NA meetings, positive speakers, 12 step recovery and more. The weekly rent charge is only $75 with more accommodating facilities ranging from $85-125. There is NO DEPOSIT required, and they are one of the only centers with this rule. You just need the commitment to change and you must stay clean and sober.

If you or anyone you know needs to get clean, needs shelter or is getting out of jail and has nowhere to go, then Charles Fields’ Pompano Sober House is a place where all can feel comfortable knowing that the chances for success are sky high. Stay with the plan and the course of action for recovery and you will succeed. With 32 locations in the tri-county area, there is a facility nearby that can take you in.

That is Charles Fields’ “testimony”. He is a man of courage, of strength and of perseverance. He has truly redeemed himself and has overcome the most difficult of odds. He has more than filled Richard’s shoes. But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of the more than 100 men currently housed in the facilities, and having helped thousands of men and families, Charles is getting and giving a second chance at life.

For more information visit:
Pompano Beginners
437 SW 2nd Ct.
Pompano Beach, FL 33060

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