FLORENCE, S.C. (WPDE) — You may know Florence City Councilman Bryan Braddock as one of the newest members.
He’s only served for five months. Others know him as a hope giver through his work at the House of Hope of the Pee Dee.
Some would say he has it all: the wife, the kids, and a job helping people every day. So it wouldn’t be uncommon for him to be voted the Best of the Pee Dee’s community leader. There was a time something else wasn’t uncommon.
“It wasn’t uncommon for me to go to Sunday school and then go to the bathroom, do cocaine and go to the worship service,” Councilman Braddock said.
That was fifteen years ago. He says it all started with him hurting his back. He says a prescription for pain pills led to a six year addiction that included harder drugs. Then three arrests, and four felony drug and fraudulent check convictions later, he says he was convicted again, this time by the Holy Spirit.
“That was the best conviction,” he said.
He said his life was in shambles. His marriage was almost over, his house was foreclosed on, his car was repossessed and he had three young children under the age of 6 at the time.
He’ll tell you he was prepared to die a drug addict, then there was a moment.
“I was on my hands and knees looking through the floormat of my vehicle for crack cocaine. I had been doing cocaine all night long for about eight hours. I was on my hands and knees going through the floor mat and I just said a simple prayer. It was nothing elaborate. I just said, ‘God, I can’t do it anymore’. I had a peace and He said ‘I never meant for you to’,” Braddock recalled.
From that point he got treatment and got a job as a drug counselor at House of Hope of the Pee Dee. He was working on a homeless court with an attorney who could get the convictions of homeless people removed so they could have a fresh start.
“I told the attorney helping start that, George Cothran, I said man I wish this was around in my heyday. He said what do you mean? I said well I’ve got four felonies and he said well Bryan you know what? I’ll represent you pro bono,” Braddock said.
That was a big break. He needed someone to represent him. Then he says he got an even bigger break.
“I got pardoned,” he said with a smile.
Thanks to that attorney, Governor Henry McMaster pardoned all of Braddock’s arrests and felony convictions.
“I was running the addictions ministry that changed my life and when I was sitting across the table from that person going through the same thing I was, and I was able to relate and give them hope, that’s when it all made sense. So, when people look at my past and they judge me for that, they’re judging what made me who I am today,” Braddock said.
Today he’s the executive director of House of Hope of the Pee Dee.
“I say that until you get real with yourself, for me coming from a faith perspective, get real with God, things aren’t going to change. I didn’t change my life to get pardoned. I didn’t change my life to become the executive director, that’s what God did with my life. I had to give him my life,” Braddock said.
He said he had to do that to get his back to be able to give a new dignified way of life to homeless men, women and children who need a home.
He helped create Hope Village that will also help some homeless people who are in recovery just like Councilman Braddock.
“Homeless people, the biggest thing is for them to believe that they can have a home again,” he said.
Councilman Braddock had to believe he could have a life again to make others believe they could too.
“I would say to anyone struggling with addiction, there’s hope, but the hope is not in the past, it’s in the future. And for me that hope is in Jesus Christ,” Braddock said.
That’s why Councilman Braddock would agree that he does have it all.
Article by Trey Paul of WPDE News