Story 8

Marphil Mendoza’s transition from teen addict to productive young citizen started at Bobby Benson Center, which he describes as “his last resort.” Marphil was living in Honolulu at age 17 when his family and probation officer saw his behavior and drug abuse worsen. Outpatient counseling and routine drug tests were failing. He started stealing and was charged with misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia. That’s when he came to the Center.

Marphil recalls his first two weeks as the worst of his life. He wanted to go home and felt sick from crystal methamphetamine withdrawals. After that, though, he started recovering physically, emotionally and spiritually. The Center became his safe haven, and he said he felt sad and scared when it came time to leave after 7 months of residential treatment.“There are some lessons I gained from Bobby Benson that I can never gain anywhere else,” he said. “When I was there I had to share a cabin and room with boys. It’s a very close-knitted friendship. We’re all like brothers. Having this relationship with other people who have the same problem … it’s invaluable. In fact, many times I look back at my experience with Bobby Benson and I say ‘Wow, I really miss my time there.’”

Things Marphil appreciates about his experience at the Center include getting three good meals a day, learning to become a good pen pal, following rules, using good manners, doing chores as a team, and waking early to make his bed. He said his most profound experience came in the form of a caring staff member who guided him to sobriety through his higher power. “Without him, I don’t think I’d be where I am now,” Marphil said of the staff member. “My higher power has been able to help me ever since I left. I had a change of heart and a change of mind in my perspective from when I was on drugs.” 

Despite facing temptations to use drugs immediately after leaving the Center, Marphil has not used crystal methamphetamine since. He said he “wasn’t going to throw away 7 months of sobriety” and his records have been cleared as a result of him completing the program and staying sober. Now the 21-year-old lives in Chicago, works as a lab technician, and studies biomedical engineering in college. Marphil is happy with his life and is hopeful about his future, although he admits to still having a problem remembering to make his bed.

Describing his experience at the Center as “the best experience I have had in my life,” Marphil’s dream is to one day return to the Center to offer others the same kind of help he received.