Shane Walker: Broadcasting Under the Influence | Episode 7

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A recognizable radio voice in his home town, Shane found himself balancing his family and career with his overwhelming addiction to alcohol.

Inspired by his wife and son he set out on a journey to sobriety and found satisfaction in recovery helping the homeless in his position with the Salvation Army.

This is the story of a human being, giving himself to others, to his family, and to anyone who needs his help. Selflessly, and alcohol free.

In recovery? Helping others find recovery? Looking to learn about recovery? Another can't miss episode of Rubber Bands with Avenues Recovery.




1:29 - Meet Shane - Let's get started!
6:30 - Addiction rears its ugly head
9:47 - A lightbulb moment - Motivation for sobriety
11:24 - Meetings, recovery process, taking the road less traveled
13:55 - Personal salvation through saving others, at the Salvation Army
15:37 - Homeless people? Or just people?
18:43 - COVID-19 - How it changed the homeless shelter model
20:18 - Eviction moratoriums - What comes next?
22:49 - Addiction and homelessness - 2 tragic birds of a feather
23:50 - What percentage of people in your shelters struggle with addiction?
24:03 - Dealing with drugs in a shelter
26:40 - Referring to treatment
30:18 - Let's hear some radio stuff
31:34 - Message to people looking for recovery - "It's ok to be scared"
35:33 - Wrapping it up


[beginning of recorded audio]

[Music Plays]

Introduction [00:00:12]:                 Welcome to Rubber Bands, an Avenues Recovery podcast, conversations about the push and pull of addiction and recovery. And now, here’s your host, Shlomo Hoffman.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:00:25]:         Hello everybody, welcome to Episode 7 of Rubber Bands, conversations about the push and pull of recovery. We continue to shed light on the world of addiction treatment by talking to the people who make up its heart and soul; those who have gone through it and those that have helped them get through it, sharing their experiences and insight on how people can find their way back from the darkest places and light up the world for themselves and for those that love them. We are joined today by Shane Walker, whose golden radio voice has echoed across the eastern shore for decades. Coupled with his work as residential program director at the Salvation Army, Shane is a true asset and friend to our Maryland community. Shane is an active proponent of addiction treatment done the right way. He has work with the homeless community often intersects with the addiction field. He has gained a wealth of experience and first-hand knowledge on what we are doing well and what we can do better. Welcome, Shane. Thanks for joining us. What’s going on today?

Shane Walker [00:01:20]:               Thank you so much for having me. That was the best intro I’ve ever gotten in any interview I’ve ever done. I greatly appreciate that.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:01:27]:         So tell me a little bit, Shane, getting back – we’re going to get to your relationship with Avenues and your relationship with the homeless population, but I want to start from the beginning, sort of. Tell us a little bit about radio. You’re a very known voice in the community. And tell us how you feel you make an impact with that voice.

Shane Walker [00:01:51]:               Gosh. Yeah, I started radio when I was nine years old, listened to the station in the town I was growing up in, got really fond of one of the announcers, went out and met her at a live broadcast and said, “If you ever need a kid’s voice for commercials, give me a call, I’d love to do it.” Lo and behold, she did, and I started doing some work making a tape when I was a kid. Ironically, even though we developed a very good friendship, she lost her job because she was an alcoholic, and one too many times under the influence on the radio and just had to get pulled off the air one day doing the news at around noon, and we lost touch. But before she and I lost touch, she told me that radio was where I belonged. She made my first tape that I was to use to get a job in radio, which I did starting at around 14.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:02:49]:         What did that tape consist of? Was that like a DJing type of thing? Was it spinning tracks?

Shane Walker [00:02:55]:               No, it was just commercials. I’d come in and if they needed – there was a family riding in a car down a really bumpy driveway and I played the kid in that bumpy car ride, you know, I became the radio station mascot, they dressed me up as a tiny elf. Maybe that’s where the drinking began, now that I think about it. I don’t know.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:03:18]:         We need picture and video evidence, Shane.

Shane Walker [00:03:21]:               I will connect you with my mother. She’s very happy to share – to share that photo. It kind of started from there, it was so much fun. And back then, radio was different than it is today. Radio was live. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you had people on the air all the time: weekend people, you had overnight people, you had people out in the community, and that’s who you did radio for. It was for your local community. And I dug it, I met some very interesting people, and just felt that that was where I belonged and was having a blast doing it. To answer your question, what does it contribute to the community, gosh, someone they feel like they can trust to give them information, maybe somebody they can turn to for a little bit of entertainment if they need a break from the monotony of their day. You know, just some sort of constant – constant companion, I guess, that they know they can turn to and feel like they have a one-on-one relationship with. That’s what you get to do if you do it right.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:04:30]:         Very cool. So it’s a sort of audio connection with people’s souls.

Shane Walker [00:04:35]:               It is, and the community I’ve been in, communities of this size, you become that connection on the radio, and then they meet you out at an event, and then they see you shopping at the same grocery store as they do.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:04:47]:         How do they recognize you? They hear you yelling about the price of tomatoes?

Shane Walker [00:04:51]:               Yeah, it’s like, “I need a pound of roast beef!” and they go, “I know that voice.”

Shlomo Hoffman [00:04:56]:         Very cool. So in your radio career, you’ve mostly done the FM dial, is that correct?

Shane Walker [00:05:02]:               FM radio, morning shows, afternoon shows, overnight, weekend shows, but it’s always been playing the tunes and giving entertainment information, giving local, community information. There was a stint when I was in high school I would get up and do the morning news on a station, I’d go to school, then I’d leave school and go do the afternoon drive music stuff, did that for a while. So a little bit of everything, not much in the way of sports, because I can’t talk about what I don’t know. Other than that, it’s been a lot of music, a lot of fun, a lot of cool opportunities.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:05:40]:         What does your prep look like for these shows?

Shane Walker [00:05:43]:               [clears throat] That’s about it. I clear my throat. You give me a script, I’m going to throw it away because I can’t do scripted stuff. I’m just going to go in and give people the information that they need based on the time that we’re in. If everything is fun and happy and the community is doing cool stuff, we’ll do that. The last year and change, we’ve been talking about COVID stuff. It’s not fun, it’s not entertaining, but people need good information, and we’ll give them just enough where they get a quick hit of good information and a place where they can go to find out some more information within our company website, Facebook, that kind of stuff. So you have to base it on who’s listening and where they’re listening so you can give them the content that they want and need.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:06:31]:         Very cool. So following that theme of not following a script, so let’s walk through your life here. So you sort of got into the radio scene and then you had a brush with addiction. It was a little bit later in life, is that right? It wasn’t like you were this kid in high school that was drinking and doping up, it sort of started later. Walk us through that a little bit, that bump in the road, so to speak. That change in the script.

Shane Walker [00:07:00]:               It did. You know, I remember being in high school and hearing the guys in class talk aobut the parties they were going to have every weekend, and I’m gonna get the vodka and I’m gonna get the beer and I’m gonna get this, and I remember thinking I had work to do that weekend. How is this appealing to people? How is this entertaining to people? And they’d go and they’d do their partying and then they’d come in Monday looking like they spent all weekend partying and I’d hear about that. And it just never appealed to me.

And it was, it was later in life, and I can’t really pinpoint the moment.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:07:40]:         It’s interesting, so it wasn’t because of the party scene. It was more of an escape, it was like you were going through stuff, you were struggling with stuff?

Shane Walker [00:07:49]:               You know, I’m thinking maybe it was escape at first. And you know, I don’t blame, really, anyone or anything or any scenario, because I ended up making the choice every time I went for the drink and I went back for the drink and more, and more, and more, that was my choice. But maybe it was to escape being on all the time. Maybe it was to escape the radio persona and try to be somebody different. I don’t know why, I really have no problem doing what I did on the radio for so long. You know, I had one relationship that went very, very awry. That definitely caused my drinking and self-abuse to kick into a much higher gear, dealing with a lot of self-worth issues and such surrounding that. But yeah, I can’t really pick one particular instance: this happened and then I was an active alcoholic. I really can’t put my finger on it.

But man oh man, I got into it, and I got into it big and was a functional alcoholic up until the time I stopped.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:09:02]:         So did it ever get you into trouble at work? Did you ever say something you wanted back on the microphone? How did that work out?

Shane Walker [00:09:11]:               No. No, it never – only one time did someone, you know, say, “You smell like you’ve been drinkin’.” That was really it. I’m sure people knew, but it didn’t affect my performance enough to where I had to be pulled away from it. And don’t think, oh, that means you can control it. No. No, I’m sure I was not fooling anybody. But no, it never – in life, with the law, nothing. It never really got me into any serious trouble.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:09:47]:         So what turned on the lightbulb for you that you knew to change it around? You were functioning, right? You were married with a child, everything was working out. You weren’t messing up at work. What turned on the lightbulb for you that, you know what? I’ve got to stop. I’ve got to fix this.

Shane Walker [00:09:56]:               Well, it was my wife. I woke up from a nap one day, our son was six months old, and she said, “Rehab or divorce?” and we decided very quickly that we couldn’t afford me to go to rehab and leave my work, because I was a big contributor to the family budget. So August 15th, 12 noon, I went cold turkey, held on my kid and cried for a long time at the very thought of not having him around, and said, “Okay, that’s it.” And I have not looked back. Knock on wood, I have not relapsed. I haven’t really – really had too many struggles with the recovery process. There were a couple here and there, but for the most part, I’m so, so blessed and so grateful with the way my recovery has gone.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:11:00]:         The impact of a good woman, Shane, huh?

Shane Walker [00:11:04]:               The impact of a good woman and an awesome little kid. He’s my meaning every day. He saved my life every day. And I’m cool. I’m cool with that. I’m getting some benefits out of it, but my guy, he’s just the absolute best.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:11:19]:         Did you ever do the meeting process? Did you ever do any of that, the scripted recovery work? Or it was basically like your own deal?

Shane Walker [00:11:31]:               I went to a couple, three, AA meetings very early on just because I had no idea how to approach recovery and figured that’s just what you did, you went to AA meetings to recover. Look, AA is great, NA is great, it serves a very good purpose for those who find the program works for them. I did not find that the program worked for me. I really did not enjoy the meetings at all. People were very kind, they were very welcoming, but it wasn’t doing it for me. I didn’t feel like it was going to help me. So I ended up doing my own thing, which is get up every day and don’t drink and do stuff throughout the day and don’t drink and see my kid and know that my kid was gonna be there when I get home. So, don’t want to mess that up, so don’t drink, and it’s worked every day since.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:12:34]:         Very interesting. I find that to be a common theme as I talk to more and more people in the recovery process or in the recovery field, how everyone sort of finds their thing, you know, their thing that makes it click, that makes it work for them. And the systems are great. They’re great for a lot, a lot, a lot of people, but if the system doesn’t work for you, I think people should realize that they shouldn’t be discouraged and they can find their own path, and it’s really important to identify what path works for you to get you going, you know, and to keep you on the straight and narrow. So it’s really very illuminating to hear that from different people. Everyone has their own story. For some people, AA changed their lives. For some people, without addiction treatment programs, forget about it, they’d be dead on the streets. And for some people, it was their wife threatening them with divorce.

Shane Walker [00:13:19]:               Exactly.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:13:20]:         It’s really interesting how that works.

Shane Walker [00:13:22]:               You know, it’s so important for those of us in the recovery community to be as transparent as we can be because we could say something that hits on somebody else, and they go, “Wow, that’s very similar to my circumstance, so yeah, it is going to work out this way.” You never know who your story is going to affect or how it may affect them, so I think it’s our duty to be very open and very honest, even with the ugly parts of our story.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:13:58]:         Very cool. So you’re spinning tunes, you’re on the radio, you’re becoming a popular voice, and you pivot. There’s a little bit of a pivot here. You’re still on the radio, but you get very involved with the homeless community.

Shane Walker [00:14:11]:               I got involved with the Salvation Army. My wife and I had talked about it and we decided that we definitely wanted to move forward with her being a stay-at-home mom, taking care of our son, homeschooling him, the whole deal.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:14:24]:         How old is your boy now?

Shane Walker [00:14:26]:               He’s five now. He’s five. And he’s awesome. Five going on 30, I can’t keep up. But he – that meant daddy had to make more money, and I was going to look for a part-time gig, a part-time overnight gig if I could have such luck, and sure enough, scrolling through Facebook, just happened to catch an overnight monitor position at the Salvation Homeless Shelter in Cambridge, and I didn’t even know we existed here in Cambridge, to be honest with you. So I checked it out and I got hired, and I just started doing Saturday and Sunday overnights at the homeless shelter, letting people in, giving them a sandwich, and sending them to bed. That was essentially the job description. I was doing that for a while, and then I started getting attached and seeing there was some really serious need beyond just homelessness, there were other levels of need. A lot of stuff will contribute to someone’s life to get them into a position of homelessness.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:15:22]:         Right.

Shane Walker [00:15:23]:               And I kind of wanted to help out and so I got myself more and more involved here at the core until my captain, who’s here now, she created a full time position for me, and now here I am. So yeah, definitely a big pivot.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:15:37]:         What did you learn about the homeless as people? You know, I feel like people walk around the street, you see somebody unfortunately in a state of homelessness, and you see them, there’s a kind of – I don’t want to use such a strong word, but people feel repulsed, and there’s a guy sitting on a cardboard box. And I feel like when you deal with the people themselves, you know, we see this in the addiction treatment field as well, there’s a certain light that goes on. There’s a person here. Talk a little bit about how your perspective changed to the homeless as a person, as a human being.

Shane Walker [00:16:15]:               Well, they are people. They are human beings. None of us is really too far away from being in the same circumstance as a lot of the individuals that we serve. And that’s worldwide. That’s worldwide, the homeless population. So, you know, you start to talk to them. You’re not necessarily there – and I caution my monitors about this, you’re not necessarily there to be their friend, but you’re there to be kind to them, be civil to them, listen to them, and see what’s going on. So I would do that. And some of them would come in and I’d be talking to them, and they’d get this look on their face, and they’d go, “Why do I know you? Why do I feel like I know you?” and they’d make the connection, oh, you’re the guy on the radio. So that probably doesn’t happen at many homeless shelters, but it did open a door where that same thing, people thought they could connect with me.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:17:12]:         Sort of that trust that we were talking about before – you’d build some sort of trust because they heard your voice and you’re kind of a friend, almost.

Shane Walker [00:17:20]:               So you use that to listen to them and just listen, you know, don’t offer advice, don’t offer suggestions, just listen and find out that okay, you had some trouble maybe with addiction, or maybe just poor budgeting, or maybe someone stole all your money in a relationship and ran away. So everybody’s got a different story, but they still deserve love, they still deserve care, and they’ve been told “no” maybe so many times that they’ve gotten frustrated and just given up. Well, I’d like to have us, myself, the monitors, everybody here, just give them that respect and that love and that care and try to help them up out of that position. They’re very much like you and I and everybody we see throughout our day. Their circumstance is a little bit different, but we’re all really, really similar and we need to remember – it goes back to that very simple golden rule, just treat people the way you want to be treated, because they deserve it. Even when they may seem unlovable and un-helpable and may just be very different, we’re all unlovable and un-helpable and difficult at different times, but we still need that help, just like they do.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:18:41]:         So how did you navigate COVID at the shelters and stuff? That must have thrown you for a loop.

Shane Walker [00:18:49]:               We de-sheltered, actually, for a while. We shut down completely and everybody who came in, we kept them here during the day, during the night, which we don’t have a day shelter program, so that was something different, to shuffle staff and bring in volunteers.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:19:08]:         You mean because they couldn’t leave because if they would leave they wouldn’t be able to come back?

Shane Walker [00:19:13]:               Exactly, exactly.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:19:14]:         And how did you do new admits? Like new people coming in, what happened? You had to test them?

Shane Walker [00:19:19]:               Well, that was before testing was even a thing. So we – I think we actually shut it down completely for a while, and some of the guests that we get come from other agencies, so they were already housed. They were already in a position. Eviction moratorium started to be a thing, and people, for the most part, ended up staying put where they were, so we didn’t really have to turn a bunch of people away, because we never want to do that, COVID or not, we certainly don’t want to do that.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:19:51]:         Right, you guys are pretty essential, I would say.

Shane Walker [00:19:55]:               Yeah, absolutely. And we were able to get a lot of help from our local health department, digital thermometers, masks, gloves, the whole deal, cleaning supplies. And we were able to – we were very, very blessed. We didn’t have any problems at all through COVID.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:20:17]:         Do you see rates of homelessness dropping because of the eviction moratoriums that are ongoing? How are you preparing for that to end? Because I imagine that is going to end at some point soon.

Shane Walker [00:20:28]:               It will. The eviction moratorium varies from state to state, and then of course there’s the CDC moratorium, and they say that’s going to end July 31st of 2021. We have seen a difference. People who wouldn’t pay their rent for whatever reason, or couldn’t pay their rent for whatever reason, they’ve essentially been protected by this eviction moratorium, so our numbers have – were low for quite some time.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:21:00]:         That’s a good thing.

Shane Walker [00:21:02]:               It’s a good thing…it’s a good thing, but landlords weren’t getting their money.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:21:07]:         I mean from your perspective. There’s nothing more that you’d wish for than for you guys to be out of business, right? To have no customers.

Shane Walker [00:21:16]:               Yeah, and I’m working on that. I’m trying to come up with a way to do that.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:21:20]:         Oh yeah, you’re solving homelessness, Shane?

Shane Walker [00:21:23]:               Yes, that’s another show, but…

Shlomo Hoffman [00:21:26]:         Why are you not on like a Washington DC commission?

Shane Walker [00:21:30]:               Because I can’t stand Washington DC commissions. No, but it is going to change. What we’ve seen is it is going to change when the eviction moratorium ends, and evictions are able to go forward. And we’ve seen a few. We’ve seen a lot of notices to quit, where the landlord just isn’t renting anymore. “This place is no longer a rental, so you need to get out.” That’s what we’ve seen a lot of, happen so far. But what is going to happen is people will be evicted, our numbers will increase to the point where we are at 100% full capacity, and then the challenge becomes, okay, where do the people in our shelter now go to find a permanent place to live? Because that’s the idea: they come in, if they get into our transitional shelter program, they’ve got X number of days to work with a rapid rehousing specialist or to find a place on their own to go and be settled into by the end of that program.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:22:36]:         So the goal is to get them out. To get them in and get them out.

Shane Walker [00:22:39]:               The goal is to get them into permanent housing but also to give them a good structure to continue living so we can reduce the rate of recidivism that I see pretty high over here.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:22:50]:         Drugs. Alcohol. Addiction. What is the impact on homelessness from your experience?

Shane Walker [00:22:56]:               It’s pretty big. I would say, you know, looking at the numbers that we have right now, we have a couple of different shelter models here on property, and one is designed specifically for people who have substances in their system, and it’s a pretty high number, especially with males.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:23:16]:         That’s interesting. There’s a discrepancy between males and females in terms of drug addiction and homelessness?

Shane Walker [00:23:21]:               That I’m seeing. There may not be, but I’m seeing quite a few males who don’t have a place to go. And when they come to us, they’ve got something in their system; they’re either drunk or they’ve got residual narcotics in their system. They crash with us for a couple of days, they disappear for a few days, they come back, hey, do you want to try the other shelter program? “No man, I was doing this or that while I was away, I just needed a place to crash.” Okay, no problem, go ahead and lay down. But I would say overall, we probably see, you know, pretty close to, I don’t know, 40%, 45% of the people who come to us have addictions issues.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:24:00]:         Wow, that’s enormous.

Shane Walker [00:24:02]:               It is huge, it is.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:24:04]:         So tell us a little bit about how you deal with that. First of all, on a shelter level, are you able to control that no substances are coming in? Do you tolerate drugs in the home? Or is that not even something – this is a place where you crash and we don’t really get involved in that aspect of it at all?

Shane Walker [00:24:24]:               Well, we’ve got two shelter models. One you come in, you’ve got a photo ID, you blow a clean breathalyzer, you take a clean urinalysis, there’s nothing in your system, and we get you in and get you started on one particular program, and we run those drug and alcohol tests randomly while you’re staying in that program. That’s one model.

And if you come in and you end up under the influence of whatever and you’re in that transitional shelter program, we call it, you’re out of that program, we offer you the other shelter model, which is for those who come in, they’ve been drinking, or they’ve got whatever in their system, as long as you aren’t out of control with whatever is in your system, you can grab a bite to eat, grab a bed, and crash for the night. It’s a first-come-first-serve shelter. You cannot use on property. Even if you have a valid medical marijuana card, you cannot use on property. You can have THC in your system, but you can’t use it on property, what you do from there on out.

And our other shelter, we call it our white flag shelter, as long as you’re not acting out of turn with it, we’ll give you a place to crash. But we have to consider there are people on this property. We have to consider kids; we’ve got to consider women who are fleeing domestic abuse situation that are spurred by alcohol or drug use. We’ve got to consider we have people here who are in recovery who might be ready to quit their substance and go into recovery. So we’ll allow you to come in, as long as you’re cool. The minute you start getting out of hand, you’re going to have to go.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:26:06]:         How long can you stay for?

Shane Walker [00:26:08]:               The white flag shelter, which we kind of refer to as our crash pad shelter, you can stay as many nights and you’re able to grab a bed. We give them out first-come-first-serve every night.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:26:17]:         It’s a daily thing, it’s not like you kind of hold onto your bed. It’s in the morning…

Shane Walker [00:26:22]:               Exactly. No personal belongings, nothing like that. You come in, we feed you, there’s your bunk, get a good night’s sleep, get up the next morning, you get breakfast, and off you go. And if you need a bed the next night, come back at six, if one’s available, you can have it, if not, sorry, but that’s how it works.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:26:41]:         Right. Tell us a little bit about your efforts funneling the people that are affected by addiction and are homeless, you’ve built relationships with different treatment providers to try to funnel them into treatment, which is the ultimate goal. What are your efforts in that direction? What do you guys do? What are your programs for that?

Shane Walker [00:27:02]:               Well, the Salvation Army actually has what we call ARCs, adult rehabilitation centers, and some are for men, some are for women, and they are positioned throughout the country. So what we’ll do is we’ll – say somebody comes to us and they grab a bed in the white flag shelter and they’re feeling a little rough and they stay for a couple of nights, and they disappear for a few nights and they come back, and they’re looking a little rough, feeling a little rough. Over time, we’ll talk to them and say, you know, “Are you okay? Is everything good?” not getting too involved, and we’ll just kind of let them open up a little bit and try to listen to those key words: “Man, I’m so tired of…” or “Gosh, I wish I could…” When they show they’re ready to make or a change, or they want something to be different, then we’ll step in and go, “Well, listen, there are some resources in the area that could help you out. What would you like to do?” and let them answer the questions, don’t push things on them. As great as these programs are, you can’t push it on somebody. They have to be willing to make that decisions themselves. So we’ll engage them and just kind of let them talk to us, let them share, and from there, we’ll say, okay, there’s this program, or there’s this program, depending on what they want treatment for, where they want to be in the country, that kind of thing, and from there, kind of help them through the process. They could take the phone number to an agency and make the intake appointment, all that themselves, or we can offer to help them out. “Hey, I know a guy who runs the intake program at Avenues here in Cambridge,” or “I know somebody who works at Avenues at Prince Frederick, would you like to make a phone call and talk to them?” and let them lead the dance, you just kind of help them out as they go.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:28:57]:         Was there ever a thought of bringing in addiction interventions and specialists into the home to talk to the people? Is that something you guys do or have thought of? Sort of bringing it to them?

Shane Walker [00:29:08]:               We’ve started to talk about that with some area providers. We do have what’s called a “recovery and wellness center” here in town. It’s not a rehab clinic or a recovery clinic, but it’s a resource for people who are trying to rebuild their lives again. So they’ve come in and talked about addiction prevention. They actually have Narcan kits. Alcoholism is in there, but it’s a lot for drug use. So we’ve partnered with them, they’ve come – they’re actually doing a resource fair here with us in the not-too-distant future. And when Avenues Cambridge, Avenues of the Eastern Shore was starting to build, I was fortunate enough to begin communicating with a couple members of the team, and that’s something that we talked about. So it’s in the works of having counselors, having peer support come in and do outreach clinics, for lack of a better term, for those here at the shelter and those out in the community so we can maybe try to help people before they get to the point where they’re experiencing homelessness because of their addiction.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:30:16]:         Very cool. So you have a lot on your plate.

Shane Walker [00:30:22]:               A little bit.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:30:23]:         When’s your next show, Shane?

Shane Walker [00:30:25]:               Every weekday afternoon from two until seven eastern time.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:30:29]:         Give us a segment.

Shane Walker [00:30:31]:               See, I don’t rehearse, I don’t script…

Shlomo Hoffman [00:30:33]:         Right there, just make believe you’re in front of the mic. What are you selling?

Shane Walker [00:30:35]:               Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani got married this weekend. Turns out their wedding cake has a lot of sentimental significance to both of them. I’ve got the details after the new loop combs.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:30:48]:         That’s great. What are the details? Now I’m curious.

Shane Walker [00:30:54]:               Well, you’ll have to tune in this afternoon to catch the radio show and that’s when you’ll find out.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:31:00]:         Are you available online? Can we hear you online?

Shane Walker [00:31:05]:      There’s also a mobile app.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:31:09]:         Are you guys on the iHeart app? Like the iHeart Radio app?

Shane Walker [00:31:11]:               Nope, we are an independent company owned by Draper Media, WVOC is the lead station. They’ve got TV and radio properties, but they keep it local.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:31:22]:         Give us a final message to people who want to get involved, want to help, homelessness, addiction, getting the message out, etcetera. What would you tell them?

Shane Walker [00:31:37]:               Well, first, what I really want to make sure to get out is to the addiction community, if you’re thinking about kicking your addiction, first of all, you’re a rock star even for thinking about it. Second of all, it’s okay to be scared. I did not expect the tremendous wave of fear when I made the decision to stop drinking. And it was a gigantic wave of fear and it would crash over me over and over and over again.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:32:06]:         What were you scared of?

Shane Walker [00:32:08]:               The unknown. I spent so many years being a functioning alcoholic. I mean, I had mixed drinks prepared in every room of my house so that wherever I was, I had a drink ready to go. And I did everything while drinking. So now I went from doing everything while drinking, to doing absolutely nothing while drinking. How in the world could I possibly do anything without a drink? It was terrifying. It was absolutely terrifying. But it’s okay to be scared because you can do everything without your addiction of choice. And you can do it one day at a time as we say, and you will find a day where you go, “I’m not scared anymore. I’m going to do this, this, and this, and I’m not scared anymore,” and that’s awesome. You will get through it. So it’s okay to be scared. For those who don’t wrestle with addiction, give us a little bit of leeway. If it’s something you don’t understand, talk to us, ask us. A lot of us are willing to share so that you can understand it without having to go through it. And for those who are watching a loved one go through addiction, god love you. You have a very, very hard job ahead of you. They do have to make the decision themselves. They really, really do. And it’s so hard. Everybody’s situation is different, so I can’t really give a cookie cutter, “This is what you should do, this is what you should say.” But I get it. I did a lot to my family and friends, and there’s still rebuilding and still recovery there. It takes time. But work with them, love them, and help them through it as best as you can.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:33:56]:         Great stuff, Shane. Anything you want to promote? What do you have going on?

Shane Walker [00:34:03]:               The Salvation Army is cool.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:34:06]:         Listen to my show!

Shane Walker [00:34:07]:               Avenues. Avenues is great. No, you know, it’s so funny. I spent so many years doing radio and being in the spotlight, it was all about me, me, me, me, me, and now anything and everything that comes through the Salvation Army that works and is great and is good, my captain will go, “Shane did this,” and I’m like “No, nuh-uh, no,” I want absolutely no recognition, no promotion, no nothing at all.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:34:33]:         It’s amazing, the reward of your work is rewarding you by itself. That’s enough for you.

Shane Walker [00:34:40]:               It’s enough. That’s enough.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:34:43]:         It’s changed your perspective. That’s amazing.

Shane Walker [00:34:46]:               Yeah. I’m happily seated in the corner just watching things happen, and I can go to bed, as my daddy used to say, go to bed with good tired at the end of the day.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:34:56]:         Good tired. Giving back will do that to you. Shane, thank you so much for coming out today.

Shane Walker [00:35:03]:               Thank you.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:35:04]:         Best of luck with your work going forward. You know that we’re always here. Avenues and the Salvation Army can partner on a ton of things.

Shane Walker [00:35:12]:               Yeah, I’m so grateful for you guys.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:35:15]:         We really appreciate your hard work on everything. Thank you so much for coming on. Guys, if you want to listen to Shane, listen to his radio show, and follow him on Twitter @ShaneIsBatman. Is that right, @ShaneIsBatman?

Shane Walker [00:35:26]:               Yeah, ah, you did your homework. That’s awesome.

Shlomo Hoffman [00:35:28]:         You know it. Are you a big Marvel guy? Is that what that is?

Shane Walker [00:35:31]:               No, strictly Batman. Batman is the greatest of all time. I will not budge on that

Shlomo Hoffman [00:35:37]:         Alrighty, there you have it. Guys, this has been another edition of Rubber Bands, conversations about the push and pull of addiction. We have given you Shane Walker to listen to. Listen, rate, subscribe, give us some feedback if you’re enjoying the podcast. Thank you guys all for listening and have a great, great day.

[Music Plays]


Music by:
“Strength of the Titans”
Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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