49 www.ReadMPM.com | www.MountPleasantMagazine.com | www.ShemCreekRestaurants.com “It doesn’t care where you live, your race, gender, political stance, the money you make or your religious views… it just wants you gone. It is cunning, baffling and powerful. It is relentless.” These are the words that Jonathan Martinez, founder of the Mount Pleasant nonprofit Operation Rise Again, shared to describe the scourge that had once taken over his life: addiction. “There was a point in my life when alcohol and drugs dominated my world,” Martinez said. “Over the last 10 years, I have surrounded myself with like-minded individuals who have made it their life’s work to fight on the firing line of alcohol and drug addiction.” This past year, associates and Martinez created a charitable nonprofit organization called Operation Rise Again, to assist those who wish to undergo treatment for an alcohol or drug addiction, but cannot afford all or a portion of the cost for a treatment center. For Martinez, through his personal journey of addiction, accepting defeat was a turning point. “After years of misery and heartache due to my addiction, I finally threw up my hands,” Martinez admits. “I knew I couldn’t fight this on my own anymore.” Surrendering opened the door for Martinez to find help, from a 12-step treatment program, strong, loving mentors who believed in him and a renewed faith in God and his grace. Now going on almost 14 years of sobriety, Martinez and his sister, Jessica Hecker, are on a mission to support other people battling with addiction and their families. Hecker knows firsthand the deep impact addiction has on the entire family. “Watching someone you love struggle with addiction creates a pain inside of you that is hard to express in words,” Hecker shared. “I think the hardest part is watching the addiction turn someone you’ve known your entire life into a stranger. And your biggest fear is that you will never get to see that person you once knew again.” Operation Rise Again is about acknowledging the deep pain and struggle that addiction brings, while shifting the narrative from one of defeat to a testimony of transformation. “To bear witness to my brother’s transformation has been a life-changing event for me,” Hecker said. “I cannot deny that God exists because I have no doubt in my mind that my brother would not be here today if it wasn’t for him. Jonathan’s story has helped me become a more spirituallycentered person and I could not be more proud or grateful for his testimony.” This initiative can only thrive with support from the community. Raising awareness about Operation Rise Again and the realities of addiction and giving generously to help people receive lifesaving treatment can make a significant impact. “Above everything, pray,” Martinez added. “Pray for the alcoholic and addict still looking for a way out. Pray they get a chance to experience (God’s) saving grace.” Dedicated to Abraham and Laura Martinez, our parents who sacrificed so much for this cause and for always being the calm in the midst of the storms. – Jonathan Martinez and Jessica Hecker. Photo by XXXXXXXX. Visit operationriseagain.org to find ways to get involved. Follow along on social media at @operationriseagain. Breaking the Chain Operation Rise Again BY HEATHER ROSE ARTUSHIN our town Jonathan Martinez founded the Mount Pleasant nonprofit organization Operation Rise Again. Martinez attributes this movement against addiction through Operation Rise Again. For Martinez, accepting defeat was a turning point in his personal journey through addiction.