Nilan Wright grew up in the Kansas City area. He attended high school in the city, and after graduating, he went to barber school and worked as a barber for two years. Nilan also enrolled in an automotive training program at Metro High School. Nilan stopped practicing as a barber due to the cost to maintain his practice. He was making enough to pay his bills but was living on a tight budget. “It was hard to get the food that I wanted, buy clothes, do something nice for myself, go to the movies. I couldn’t do none of that,” Nilan says.
During this time, he was also struggling with substance use disorder. “I started messing around with illegal activities about 13 or 14.” Due to his substance use, his health was starting to decline, and he was getting worried. “The headaches were so strong I couldn’t sit up straight. But I could still use, you know what I mean? And I was like, that can’t be right. It’s going somewhere. So, if I don’t want to be handicapped for the rest of my life, I better stop.”
Nilan originally went to City Union Mission and then came to Benilde Hall. “My story is that I stopped using drugs on my own, cold turkey.” He started working at Benilde Hall as soon as he was able to. “I did the dishes for about six months, and then they asked me if I wanted to do a little maintenance work around here, like stocking the restrooms and kitchen.” After he finished his time as a client, he went on to work in facility maintenance for Benilde Hall, where he has been for three years.
For Nilan, he found the groups at Benilde Hall to be great for his recovery process. He says that the group classes “got [him] into talking again” without the use of substances. Nilan also credits former Executive Director Kent Jewell and Judge Fry as significant people in his recovery journey. “Those are the ones who got me this program.” When he made the transition from client to staff, he felt that he got “a taste of the real world again.” For those in recovery, Nilan says “You gotta keep fighting. There’s a fight in this.” He also says, “the same way you got started, is the same way you can end. You got to want to.” Nilan celebrated 10 years sober on his birthday, August 27th.