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NCBAM provides potential life-saving Red Bags with salvation plan

Retired for 18 years and widowed for five, 80-year-old Sonny Westmoreland does not let grass grow under his feet. Or his neighbor’s for that matter. He stays active helping others – like the frail neighbor whose yard he mows each week. An active deacon at Haymore Memorial Baptist Church in Mt. Airy, Westmoreland also volunteers at the local food pantry and clothes closet each week.

In addition to caring for his home, large garden and two miniature horses, Westmoreland is an avid walker at the Ararat River Greenway – staying in shape for the annual Relay for Life fundraiser where he walks one lap for each year since his successful treatment for lung cancer. Last year, that was 29 laps – seven and a quarter miles with only one lung. Like other blessings, Westmoreland deflects credit for his good health and stamina. “God’s always blessed me more than I deserve.”

Westmoreland also “opens the doors, turns on the lights and makes the coffee” two evenings each week at a local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. “I used to go seven nights a week, but now just two – but not to keep from drinking. God gave me that program. Now, it’s my obligation to be there for others. You can’t do a lot for people at AA; they have to do it for themselves. But they have to have a place to go; so I keep the doors open for them.”

Westmoreland is frank about the addiction to alcohol that threatened his marriage and life. After his “Savior, Jesus Christ,” Westmoreland credits his wife Polly for seeing him through. “We met on a blind date when I got back from Korea. I kept my drinking a secret until we married and then I couldn’t any longer.”

In May of 1972, after 15 years of turmoil, Westmoreland found himself in the Alcohol Recovery Center (ARC) in Butner, North Carolina. Retelling a memory from those first days of sobriety still casts a shadow across his face. “They made a movie of the get-acquainted session on the first day and showed it to us later.