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Former partier uses experience at Hagerstown Rescue Mission

June 13, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

Although he grew up in a Christian home and was "saved" more than 25 years ago, Richard "Rick" Roche III said he was still partying, drinking and drifting through life until one fateful night in 1992.

"I was driving home loaded after a party and I got into an accident on Resh Road," Roche said. "No one was hurt, but God started hammering on me to change my life."

So the ex-Marine promised a Washington County judge that he would never be back in court, and he has kept that promise.

"I had to face the reality that I had been playing games with my life," Roche said.

The next part was harder and took longer, but Roche made steady progress.

He met his future wife, Eugenia, at a Bible study that he was attending to meet people who also were struggling with their commitment to live a better life.

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The turnaround in his life also included entry into Antietam Bible College near Hagerstown, where he graduated summa cum laude in 2001 with a degree in pastoral studies.

Roche, 40, has been on staff at the Hagerstown Rescue Mission for four years.

"I am the life skills supervisor, but everyone calls me the evening chaplain," he said.

Although Roche said he had thought of himself as "shy and backward," he remembers the former dean of students at Antietam telling him otherwise.

"Curvin Stambaugh said I had the gift for talking with people," Roche said.

Buoyed by that new confidence, Roche took a step of faith and became associate youth pastor at Grace Bible Church in Greencastle, Pa.

In his position at the mission, Roche works with a lot of men who have had similar difficulties in their lives. That some of them are also veterans is another connection they share.

"I'm like a pastor and a police officer," Roche said. "You have to love these guys where they are now."

The Hagerstown Rescue Mission at 125 N. Prospect St. was begun in 1955 by the late Jimmy Resh and his wife, Ellen, who sought to rescue men addicted to alcohol and help them find God and a place in society.

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