Location: Gateway Center
Male, Age 62
“I have Felt peace Joy and happiness in my Life”
Daniel Enger: (Interviewer) Good morning, today is October 20, 2021, and we’re here at the Gateway Center in Metro Atlanta. My name is Daniel Enger and I have the pleasure of being here with you Barry. I’m grateful thank you very much for taking the time to talk, I’m looking forward to hearing your story and learning from you. My first question for you Barry is a really big one namely, please tell the story of your life from the time you were a small child up to the present day and please start by saying your name.
Barry: Good morning, my name is Barry Keith Dupree. I was born in Atlanta Georgia in 1959, at Grady Memorial hospital. My mother J. M. Baker raised me until the age of 17 then I thought I was grown. I went to Turner High School I was a superstar in sports I pulled up from the ninth grade to the 12th grade in two years. My mother is 94-years old, and she is still living today. I got started into drugs dropped out of school, played around awhile went to prison for a year, got back out met a young lady that gave me five healthy beautiful sons. All my sons were born out the projects, all my sons have grown up except my 19-year-old that got killed seven years ago I liked to have committed suicide about it, started doing drugs and alcohol very severely. I stayed with all my boys until my last child was 14 we broke up after 31 years. I started doing drugs heavy and 16 months ago I was standing outside waitin on the drug man to bring me some more drugs, and I looked up in the clouds and I saw an image of my son and it was like he looked down upon me and said daddy get it together. So, I went out and used that night and I thought about what I had told him 5:00 that morning I told my son to pick me up we went to a couple other homeless shelters I found my way down to Gateway. That was on a Friday they told me to come back that Monday, I came back that Monday morning stayed in line, and they refused me at first and told me I had to be 7 days clean. I told them if I go back out I wouldn’t survive, and the young lady told me to wait a minute and she called Mr. Demetrius down he got on me and talked to me like no other man talked to me in my life, but it woke me up, I needed that, I love Mr. Demetrius. So, I entered Gateway on a walker I worked my program I have had hip replacement surgery, I have had two hernia surgeries since I been here. I have had all my teeth removed and I have teeth in my mouth and I can smile today, and I recently went to Grady and found out I have prostate cancer but guess what Gateway the Upward Program Mr. Demetrius helped taught me a new way of living, a new way of thinking, A new way of expressing he told me one time that you gone have peace, joy, and happiness in your life. I didn’t know what he meant but I stuck and stayed. 15 months later here I am with teeth to smile, new hip with a new walk, although I have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, I do not entertain that thought because my higher power which I call my God have led me to understand that He would not put me through this path of living life right and turn me away. I don’t entertain it I have peace, joy, and happiness in my life, I have joy. I got a certificate for the computer typing class last week I am currently enrolled in the GED Program, I got all this done through Gateway. Now you may say what’s next, what’s next for Barry I would like to further my education, I would like to be a counselor for drugs and alcohol cause I see the people that I was there go I, when I go out the door I see where I was, and someone gave me help. Gateway is the most wonderful place I have ever known in my life there should be more Gateways hooray Gateway! Imma happy man today. I used to not be able to talk about my son that got killed but I can talk about him with a smile on my face. I can hold my head up because I have peace, joy, and happiness, I wake up every morning with that joy in my heart. On them drugs and on them streets I woke up worrying, wondering just misery where would I be at without Gateway, well they said, messin with drugs and alcohol. It’s either three ways jail, institution, or death Gateway saved me from all three. I recommend Gateway for anyone that’s in seeking recovery, specially in the Upward program Mr. Johnson W., Mr. Demetrius H. they two different individuals but one you got the drill sergeant which is Mr. Demetrius and Mr. Johnson W. he taught me what drugs is, what it do to the mind, what it do to the body, but wit dat education that I got from both of those gentlemen look at me today. I want to share what I got to whoever reaches out. I got something to say, I got something to do, I know what my purpose is in life now I learned all this at Gateway. All the people that out here and see this message I’m speaking to you right now with my heart seek help, seek a program, call somebody cause wit help you can make it just for today. My name is Barry D. I just want to thank yall for letting me share my story thank you.
Daniel: of all the things you’ve accomplished or overcome in your life so far, what are you most proud of?
Barry: Being off drugs and alcohol being able to think rational with a better thought, you come with a better thought you make better decisions. I never knew that I could make rational decisions that would benefit me better. The old me would have took that diagnosis that I had gotten oh man (fake crying) NO we not going to do that we gonna keep moving cause life is too precious to let it get destroyed. We talking about living here living with a happiness, I mean don’t get it wrong it’s not gonna be roses, ice cream and cake every day but you able to think about it rationally, you able to analyze it better, you’re able to see it clearly. That’s my thought on that.
Daniel: Barry, you’ve gained a lot of hard-fought wisdom from your experiences in your life so far, if you were invited to share your wisdom with school kids in your community giving them guidance to live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives, what would you tell those school kids what wisdom would you share?
Barry: Wake up in the morning happy, go to school like your parents’ guide you to go, learn and get an education, a successful student will have a successful life. Be obedient to your parents, don’t let anyone peer pressure you to do the wrong thing, it’s not gonna be easy but if you have a free will, and a free mind to think and use that you will make better decisions. Get your education your future is in your hands you can go wherever you want to go, all you got to do is want to go.
Daniel: Barry, I’d like to turn to these days. Tell me please in what ways would you say your life is going well these days? Please talk a little bit about how life is good for you at the present time.
Barry: Wow (chuckles) doing this interview sharing my happiness instead of sharing my downfall. I have learned that problems gone come decisions are gone have to be made, are you going to make the right decision all the time no, we’re human are we going to make better decisions of course, we’re going to make better decisions cause you thinking better. Happiness, peace, and joy there’s no better high than those three I’m getting chills right now even answering that question.
Daniel: Barry, how did that happen, what led to those things going well for you? Who or what has contributed most to your doing well these days?
Barry: I did, I had help with my counselors to guide me and teach me the way but the only way that I was successful in where I am today, I wanted it, I had to make my mind up that I wanted a better way of living, I wanted a better life, I couldn’t do it for my sons, I couldn’t do it for my counselors, I couldn’t do it for a friend I had to do it for Barry. And once I came to that conclusion the rest was easy.
Daniel: Barry, now looking ahead when it comes to living a healthy, safe, stable, and happy life what are your hopes and dreams looking ahead?
Barry: You making me want to cry. My hopes and dreams are to make somebody life better than what the streets are doing. To make somebody father or somebody mother happy that their child is out doing the right thing. I mean I am a father of four now one passed, my son yesterday came and showed me a brand-new car he bought made me so proud that he thought about coming and seeing his father at a rehab center. It showed me that me bettering my life is helping better their life. When they came from the projects, I got one a manager, one a chef one a deputy sheriff, and my baby boy he’s in warehouse work now, I didn’t lose my son’s to the streets. I didn’t lose Barry to the street because Barry finally woke up, it took me some years I was in addiction for over 40 years I’m 62 years old now and I just started living.
Daniel: Barry, what are some of the personal strengths you draw on as you pursue your hopes and dreams?
Barry: I couldn’t walk now I can, I couldn’t think now I can, I pulled my strength me knowing that I successfully got myself better. That I better myself enough where I can help others to get to where I am. It was rough but it wasn’t rough for me because I wanted it and that’s what I want to strive in other peoples don’t do it for someone else do it for yourself. You do it for yourself I mean it’s been 15 months and God almighty it seemed like it was yesterday. I am great today I want somebody else to be great. I want somebody else mother or father to say that’s my child look at him. I go over to see my mom which is 94-years old every other weekend every day that I go see my mother she tell me you looking better and better son. My mother prayed for me and with the strength of my higher power I’m making it. I will always have this disease it’s one day at a time I have to tell myself that every day. Am I cured NO a long way from that this disease will be with me for the rest of my life, but I will not let it take control of my life again. If I can help one, one that hear the words that come out of my mouth out of 20 I did something good I stand on that.
Daniel: Barry, what obstacles and challenges do you see standing between you and your realization of your hopes and dreams? What holds you back?
Barry: Nothing, nothing. The doctor just told me I got a cancer, STOP ME Nawwww no, no, no no, no I got more to come I don’t let nothing stop me I’m motivated by my spirit. I have my spirit back with my spirit I can overcome anything long as I have that spirit and the will to do it’ll happen can’t stop me now.
Daniel: Barry, what needs to be done so that the challenges and obstacles you face can be overcome so that you can realize your personal hopes and dreams? You just said you face no challenges or obstacles right now.
Barry: The things that could have stopped me in the past was ME, once I got outta ME and got into a new way of living you can’t stop me. Okay, let’s put it like this let’s say if I wanted to be a surgeon guess what if I study hard enough, I can accomplish that mission. Life is about challenging yourself if you push yourself and wake up that next day after you’ve pushed yourself and see that you made that one-step closer it won’t hold you back.
Daniel: Barry, allow me please to shift to the community. First of all, when you think of a community that you belong to who are the people that make up your community?
Barry: All races, Black, White, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, all you know. It’s so much disease out there the number one disease is alcohol. See I go out in front of Gateway, and I see all this and the drugs and the alcohol and the mental health problems I mean it’s a lot of peoples out here that need help, and we as a society want to turn our back on them and it’s not right. You gone get some that you don’t want to entertain with them but the one’s that you can entertain with you just want to help, and everybody need help sometime, you just can’t say what we say in the Upward Program as far as relapse when you get down to it excuse my French “Fuck it” and your off back to the races. We don’t want to do that I don’t want to do that in society today because if I do that what the world gone be everybody gone be just gone be; I don’t even want to imagine it. That’s why I put my hands out to anybody need help cause I got to help, and what’s wrong with someone just putting out a helpin hand.
Daniel: Barry, when it comes to living a healthy, safe, stable, and happy life how would describe the hopes and dreams of the people in your community?
Barry: Take away the drugs and alcohol the ones that have mental health help them, drugs and alcohol have tore communities up I mean it’s not just the Black neighborhoods, it’s the inner-city now it’s everywhere. You cannot go anywhere now without the drugs and alcohol takin over. Drugs and alcohol play on a long painful destruction in peoples lives today you take that out the equation boy you got a beautiful healthy world.
Daniel: Barry, in your community what are some of the strengths people draw on as they strive to realize their hopes and dreams and live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives?
Barry: Somebody is uplifting them and telling them they are going to be alright just tell em you gone be alright, you would be amazed what a kind word to someone do. You know a couple of weeks ago this White guy he came in and got some help because I asked him to take a look in the mirror at his self and I told him to come back and tell me about that, I woke up at 5:30 that morning and he was in line, now he in the program. Yeah, it just Oh man (laughter) I jus got peace and joy just talkin about it helpin peoples, helpin peoples where would I be at if I wouldn’t have had someone that feel like I feel right now. Mr. Demetrius and Mr. Wells I thank em, everybody in Gateway everybody. Rafael, I jus saw him today he powers me he introduced me to somebody today and said see this is how; he use me as a success steppin up you know, and I’m proud of that I’m proud of me for being able to do that, if I can get more peoples to see that it’d be more help. This young lady that got this program going on I just want to thank you; I just want to tell you right now thank you, without yall we wouldn’t be alright.
Daniel: Barry, again focusing on your community what challenges and obstacles make it harder for people in your community to realize their hopes and dreams and live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives. What holds people back in your community?
Barry: Like I say the drugs the drugs and alcohol that’s; you have to sit out in front of Gateway and just see you know what I mean, their motivation is I want one mo. that’s what tears up a community in a nutshell that one mo. Everybody that’s destroying their lives right now, there go I, I’m just speaking for me all I wanted I didn’t care about nothin else only thing I wanted was jus that one mo. That one mo hit, that one mo drink, that one mo smoke, that one mo time wit this woman, that one mo destruction that destroys the whole community. And to rectify that I mean it’s gone be what it is I mean it’s just destruction. Can it be fixed? Yeah, it can be fixed clean the neighborhood up, get people help, open up more shelters, get more counselors more people to help, more people like you interviewing you know get people to see their life can be better if they try. I said teach one learn one you know what I mean, if one addict see another addict getting his back it motivate him to do better. And that’s what we need instead of everybody just throwing a blind eye to it and move it out the way, come on let’s get together iand let’s fix it, it’s real simple it ain’t nothin but time I got plenty of that. Hopes and dreams everybody have a hope everybody have dreams let’s give the dreams back to the community.
Daniel: Barry, you wisely foresaw my next question already, allow me to ask it and see if there’s anything you’d like to add. What needs to be done so that the challenges and obstacles you mentioned can be overcome and people in your community can realize their hopes and dreams and live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives?
Barry: Instead of puttin peoples out on the street raid the dope man lock the dope man up get him out of the community, if there’s no dope there’d be better lives period. I know, I was a addict still a addict I fight it every day but am I different, no I’m not different it’s just that you uplift a person just a inch and they want it they motivate themselves to keep it going. I mean that’s what I did, Gateway Center just gave me a helping hand here you go and it was up to me to make that rational I said rational decision what I can do now. Don’t entertain the negativism out there cause you gone have that even if you lockem up you still gone have it. You just gots to put it in your head that you want better it works if you work it.
Daniel: Barry, please imagine yourself as a powerful leader a powerful decision maker who can really make things happen, as a powerful leader how would you change the system to help people in your community to realize their hopes and dreams and live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives? As a leader how would you change the system?
Barry: I would make a place like Gateway and around the building I would put a mirror, I’d put a mirror (I’m gone somewhere with this) I’d put a mirror around it and I would have over the mirror “take a look at yourself”. That’s all you got to do just take a look at yourself, I did that I came in here at 190 pounds I weigh 234 now even wit the man-made so-called disease that I have that I don’t entertain. But if I was a leader and had it and was able to do it, I wouldn’t focus on keeping them underground I would focus on letting them see themselves. Cause a lot of people jus don’t as Michael Jackson used to say there’s a man or the woman in the mirror you might be surprised. Might make you want to change some things a lot of them don’t see that.
Daniel: And finally, Barry, imagine you had a million dollars, and you could spend it to help your community realize their hopes and dreams and live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives, how exactly would you spend that money?
Barry: I would get me; that’s a easy question Sir (laughter) I would buy me a million dollar’s worth of Gateways and get me a million dollar’s worth of employees to run it cause Wow I mean talkin bout a life changer, talkin bout a life changer thank you Gateway you saved my life!