“I’m really proud of myself. I can think back before I got here to TROSA…I set a bunch of goals for myself, and I’ve accomplished all of them here at TROSA. I saw my life started changing here. I saw how powerful it is when you can believe in yourself again.”

A talented athlete, Sarbarac participated in sports as a child and excelled at track and field and basketball. “In college, I was playing basketball and I broke my hand. I was prescribed pain medication for the injury and I started to build a dependency on that. I learned then that addiction doesn’t care where you are from or how you are raised…it just grabs you. That’s what happened to me.”

He found himself in a restorative justice program, where he was given a mentor. “My mentor reminded me of ‘me’…he had went to college and he had ran track. He really gave me confidence and he showed me that I can do something with my life again. And from there, that took me into 10 years of recovery.”

Sarbarac worked as an apprentice barber and enjoyed the interaction with others. “My customers would have me mentor their children. I loved the positive effects of mentorship and seeing that I could help make a difference.” He was doing well in life until an unhealthy relationship brought him back into using substances. “I forgot everything…and I lost everything.”

As a result of his substance use disorder, Sarbarac faced criminal charges and spent time in jail. He had heard about TROSA’s multi-year residential recovery program and while in jail he wrote a letter to TROSA’s admissions department. He received an interview and was accepted to the program. “When I was let out of jail I was scared that I would fall back into addiction, but I remembered my goals and I remembered my purpose.” He made the decision to try TROSA’s program.

At TROSA, Sarbarac found the sense of community he had lost. TROSA is a peer-driven program, and being able to learn from a supportive group of men and women in recovery helped him identify the behaviors and thoughts he wanted to change, and gave him a safe environment to practice new life skills every day.

“I was around people who had more time and experience in recovery…and that’s been so helpful. The TROSA community showed me what I have to offer the world. I didn’t have to change myself; I just had to re-learn and remember who I was and what my goals are. Counseling helped me get over my inability to open up to people. I was always good at listening to others, but it was hard for me to talk about myself. Being able to talk to my peers and get their perspectives has been important.”

TROSA graduate Sarbarac stands outside of TROSA barber shop with quote about being a positive member of his community

TROSA keeps its program services free so that participants can focus on what matters most: Recovery.

Sarbarac has received cost-free housing, meals, clothing, vocational and life skills training, education classes, counseling, health services, and more. “I’ve taken advantage of all that I can. I really found that classes in Parenting and Relapse Prevention were especially helpful. I also earned my Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) here.”

On February 6, 2022, Sarbarac completed TROSA’s two-year recovery program and proudly walked the TROSA graduation stage. Though designed as a two-year program, TROSA graduates have the option to stay longer in our program to continue their goals in recovery. Sarbarac stayed at TROSA beyond his graduation date, serving as a mentor to others on our campus.

Sarbarac’s self-determination and focus has allowed him to achieve another milestone: earning his Master Barber License. As a barber, Sarbarac prides himself on his attention to detail; however, his insightful observations go well beyond cutting hair. “I notice the little details about everyone around me. I check-in with people and see how they’re doing. If I see someone having a bad day or struggling, I can go over and remind them of the positive things I have observed and the progress they’ve made.”

As he prepares for his future, Sarbarac has big goals—for himself and for his recovery community: “I want to get my Instructor’s License and eventually train other barbers. I’d like to use my CDL for a few years to build up savings to open my own barber shops here in the Durham area. This way I can help create jobs and hire TROSA graduates and be able to be a source of connections.”

Sarbarac’s perspective and achievements have inspired others to work towards their own goals.

“I love the fact that we can apply the things we learn here in TROSA into our everyday life. I’ve learned how important it is to stay connected and to keep a community. I have always had signs that I was in the right place here at TROSA. I want to be part of that positive cycle. I want to give back and continue to be a good role model.

“I love helping people…and they help me, too.”