Below we paraphrase a letter written to the YMCA by the mother of a young man who visited Alex's Place in the Summer of 2014. We will call him Jason and his brother will be Xavier.

I wanted to take a moment to share with you an experience my son had today, in a happenstance meeting with Tony Lombardi.

We are from Ohio. I have 5 children, one of whom is in a rehab center in Utah, trying to learn to be sober for about the 8th time. He is a hard core heroin addict, and has overdosed a number of times. It is a miracle he is still here with us. Our youngest son, Jason, is visiting Martha's Vineyard for the first time, staying with my sister Carol who lives there with her family. Jason has been the hardest hit by Xavier's addiction. .

They were the closest of brothers, and he idolized him. Over the last several years he has turned his heart away from his brother, and had nothing but hatred for him. He has never been able to see the disease for what it is, and has had nothing to do with him since.

Today, he met Tony. In one conversation, he has a completely different view on addiction and the people it affects. I spoke to him shortly after his meeting with this perfect stranger, and in a few moments on the phone, I could feel the difference in him. He told Tony his own story about Xavier, and then listened intently to Tony's.

Tears flowed in an acceptance of loving someone who has altered their and his own life forever because of one mistake that led to a lifetime of difficulties. I can tell you that we have had Jason in counseling and had many family conversations trying to get him to understand that Xavier is not a bad person, but a good person living a bad life due to his addictions. Professionals, and family members have not been able to brake his hard exterior, and anger towards his brother, and life in general.

Today, a miracle happened! He met a wonderful person who taught him a lesson in life, so intense, that years of hate and anger melted away. Tony telling his own story to our son, somehow has saved us all. For Jason to all of a sudden "get it", to open his own heart to the hurt this disease has brought on all of us was nothing short of a miracle. I want to thank him, and the dedication to serve others, it has served our family well. Our eternal gratitude is hard to express. I know for our son Zachary, it is going to mean the world. He has been tormented by his brother turning his back to him. I am so happy this small chapter of this seemingly never ending story can be a happy one. You have a great person on staff, and we are all thankful for his desire to help others.

There is an extremely happy footnote to this story received in 2014. Xavier is now clean and Jason, the young man I met is now in college and doing really well. Proof positive that Alex's Place is making a difference . . . Tony