MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Ron Brummitt, president at Miami Rescue Mission/Broward Outreach Centers, serves with grace because the homeless organization leader has walked the walk.

Brummitt says, “It’s easy to feed somebody, it’s easy to give them some clothes, but if you’ve ever experienced changing your life, if you’ve wanted to lose weight, if you want to maybe go back to college, if you want to learn a craft or something, it takes discipline.”

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The Miami native grew up in an abusive, alcoholic, troubled home, and got himself into even more trouble.

“I entered the service and then I started doing drugs. Then when I got out, I started dealing drugs,  doing cocaine, and selling cocaine.”

After a while, lucky to have never been arrested, in 1980, he came to his senses.

“I went to bible college and got married, had a child. Then for some reason went back to drinking and I ruined my life.”

He lost his family and ended up on the streets for two years, until one bitter cold night in 1989.

“It was Christmas Eve, and I was in a t-shirt and shorts. So, I’m knocking on doors looking for a blanket.”

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In despair, he leaned on his faith and called his pastor, who drove him to the Miami Rescue Mission, where he has been – in one capacity or another ever since.

“I was a counselor, disciplinarian, job supervisor, all that. I’ve done about everything here you can do. I’ve cooked, drove trucks, picked up items, clean floors, whatever you want to do.”

Brummitt also started an intensive faith-based program at the Mission, has earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, became a reverend, then CEO, and eventually named president in 2007 of the Mission.

He even met his wife, Marilyn, through a friend at the mission. They married in 2002 and work together too.

“I am so grateful for the change in my life.”

He says living through those desperate times, combined with strong faith, is powerful motivation to help others.

“I know what it’s like when you hear you’re walking around and people treat you as lepers you know ‘get away from me.’ I have had people cross the sidewalk to get on the other side of the street. And that’s a horrible thing because you go deeper and deeper and deeper into depression, just total blackness and it takes places like the Miami Rescue Mission and the Broward Outreach Center keep their heart open.”

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You can learn more by visiting their websites at Miami Rescue Mission and the Broward Outreach Center.

Marybel Rodriguez