Martelis’ Story of Hope

Flames engulfed the basement where Martelis slept. He woke, surrounded by fire, certain the terrifying scene before him was an inebriated dream. But the overpowering heat and the suffocating smoke snapped Martelis
back to reality on this grim night in 1990. He emerged from the basement with his life, but at great cost.

With over 80% of his body covered in third degree burns, only Martelis’ feet were left completely unscathed, allowing him to escape the flames. He lost consciousness shortly after and slipped into a coma.

Martelis grew up in Washington, DC. He tried alcohol for the first time in Middle School. “You gotta try everything to fit in,” he said. His desire to fit in led to constant parties at clubs and houses. Heavy partying spiraled into street binges that only ended when the liquor stores closed their doors.

“Addiction becomes stronger the more you feed it,” Martelis said.

A week after the fire, Martelis recovered from the coma. His physical, emotional, and spiritual recovery would take years. After his release from the hospital four months later, Martelis faced harsh judgement wherever he turned. Finding work and acceptance in the community became daily struggles.

The nightmares of fire and pain Martelis experienced pushed him deeper into his addictions. Drinking himself to sleep was the only way Martelis felt he could truly numb the pain; to extinguish the fires that haunted him.

But Martelis found hope past the flames. He found hope in his son’s constant desire to be with his father. This love inspired Martelis to heal himself from the inside-out. He attempted several programs to help him overcome the addictions that controlled his life, but none of them worked – until he found Samaritan Inns.

“Samaritan Inns showed me acceptance and love of who I am,” Martelis said after graduating from Samaritan Inns’ program. “I’m a somebody. I am going to live like everyone else.”

Today, Martelis is a manager at Lazarus House, the same house where he lived as a Samaritan Inns resident. He has received certifications in HVAC, Low Pressure Boiling, Electrical, and is currently working toward his Engineering Certification.

Martelis loves singing in the choir at Refreshing Spring Church of God in Christ, where he has been a member since 1996. His relationship with his son continues to be strong.

“A lot of bad things happened at the beginning and a lot of good things happened in the end,” Martelis said, “I set goals and accomplished them. It would not have been possible without recovery.”

From the fire, Samaritan Inns helped Martelis face his addictions. Here, he found the strength to become whole again. Samaritan Inns is proud and honored to have Martelis as a vital member of our family.

Watch the Video

Martelis shares his personal journey towards hope.

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