The word recovery is often associated with synonyms like redemption, recapture, regain and restore. For Arturo Flores of Owensboro, those words ring true. His personal journey hasn’t been an easy one, but it’s been one he has worked diligently at to make his own. Defying odds and reclaiming courage, Flores is determined to spread strength and hope by example.
A native Californian, originally from San Diego, Flores fell into active addiction at the age of 14. The cycle of substance abuse would follow him well into adulthood. Eventually graduating from juvenile detention facilities to prison, Flores found himself headed to Kentucky by chance as a favor to his family who hoped he would create a new life in Owensboro.
“More or less my father gave me an ultimatum,” Flores said. “My father had contacts here in Owensboro and moved here for employment. I was given a choice — I could accompany him here, or be exiled from my family. I opted to appease my Dad and make the move.”
Fate would keep Flores in Daviess County, and a complete “God moment,” as he describes it, would alter his future forever.
“I never wanted to stay here,” Flores said. “In fact, I had planned to come just to please my family, and then eventually move back to California. I never thought I had a drug problem.”
In December of 2009, Flores was arrested in Owensboro and found himself at the mercy of the judicial system where he was offered treatment and reluctantly accepted it. Arriving at Owensboro Regional Recovery in early 2010, he was one of the very first clients of the facility. Some ten years later he is still within the walls of the treatment center, not as a client, but as a staff member.
“I remember thinking to myself that I didn’t have a way out,” Flores said. “My mother had passed away, my Dad had returned to Mexico, I was alone and had to fully rely on God for the first time in my life. I started to realize I didn’t have anyone to call, I was completely lost.”
Eventually, a “seed” was planted in Arturo’s life upon arriving at ORR and soon after it began to grow.
“Owensboro Regional Recovery is an evidence-based program, it works,” Flores said. “If you’re willing, there is so much to learn and apply to your life. This program helped transform me into who I am today.”
Initially beginning as a peer mentor and then serving as an SOS monitor at the facility, doors continued to open as Flores applied himself and put his program into action.
“I’m the first generation born into the U.S. I grew up with a strained relationship with my father, I became a father myself at a young age. I’m far from perfect,” Flores said. “I have so much gratitude today for the restoration that has taken place in my life.”
Flores graduated with a Master of Social Work degree from Western Kentucky University this month and now serves as the Phase Two Coordinator at Owensboro Regional Recovery. Within this role, Flores serves as a case manager, and helps assist with areas such as housing and employment for clients who are close to completion.
Flores is optimistic about the future and hopes to encourage and uplift others along the way.
“I would love to work with juveniles in the future,” Flores said. “I’ve had the opportunity to interact with some youths from Evansville associated with gang activity. I think there is such a void in that age group, and I wish I would’ve had someone to relate to.”
For Flores, it is vitally important to “reach out” to those who find themselves in the midst of addiction.
“I try to remind myself often that had I not paid attention to the signs, I could’ve easily missed my exit,” Flores said. “I have to continue reaching out to those in the struggle. I’m so grateful someone did for me.”
In addition to his position at Owensboro Regional Recovery, Flores is actively involved with Audubon Area Community Services Inc. and serves on several boards advocating for substance abuse treatment in Daviess County.
“I have been completely blessed with this town — it has changed me,” Flores said. “I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do know that God didn’t carry me this far to drop me now. I took life for granted for such a long time, but now I have such overwhelming gratitude.”