JOPLIN, Mo. — This time of the year is often associated with graduation, but not all of those events involve a lot of pomp and circumstance. Sometimes graduates are much older than their teens or twenties, but the accomplishment is no less life changing.

“I was in County. I had began to hear a lot about this Forge Program which I had never heard about before. At that time I was really ready for the help,” said Riley McGuire, Forge Program Graduate.

Riley McGuire isn’t from the Joplin area, so he wasn’t familiar with the Forge Program, started by the same people who operate Watered Gardens. The Forge helps men battling addiction to get their life back on the straight and narrow, all the way to a productive member of society.

“I tell people I have a front row seat to the Miracle Show. I also tell people this is the hardest job I’ve ever loved,” said Jamie Myers, Forge Program Director.

Jamie Myers is the director of the Forge Program which is Christian based and operates out of an old church on 15th Street in Joplin. There, men like Riley undergo a change that in some cases takes them from being homeless, all the way to financially and spiritually self-sufficient.

“And there you’re really self-sufficient, and you’re in a good Christian community with people that push you to be engaged. You’re paying your rent, you’re paying your own food, you’re paying your own gas, you’re insurance, all this other stuff,” said McGuire.

By the end of the 16 month-long program, graduates are living at one of God’s Resort living spaces, and employed full-time.

While in the program, McGuire even achieved his G.E.D.

“Some of them, the drugs where in their own family. Their own family was the one who was the problem and they were raised in that, and so that’s what they know. A lot of times dad’s been absent or maybe multiple men in and out. Just not a ton of positive role models,” said Myers.

“When I first came into this program, I had no religious or Christianity, no church background or anything like that, and I feel that this program really helped me to find that spirituality, and it really changed my life,” said McGuire.