The words “passion” and “purpose” are tossed around Beit T’Shuvah more than any other, but after so many years some of us have lost sight of what they really mean. A shining example of these values can be found in our very own music intern, Austin O.

For many years before getting to Beit T’Shuvah, Austin was a musician who would play shows all around the greater Chicago area. Every time there was the inkling of success in his life, he would use drugs and alcohol to throw it all away. This led to a belief that he could never be sober and play music. His last straw was when he was signed to a record label, doing pretty well, and then decided to get wasted and make a fool out of himself during one of his shows. His label quickly dropped him and even in his intoxicated state, he understood why.

After years of attempting to get sober, Austin found his way to Beit T’Shuvah and was quickly taken by the influence of the music department. At first, he was very hesitant about having anything to do with the department. There was still a deep underlying fear that music was his gateway drug. The staff of the music department didn’t see it that way. They slowly but surely showed Austin that there is an entire emotionally uplifting world of music that he had never discovered before.

Since joining the music department, he has learned more than he ever imagined about live sound, mixing, mastering, and helping people. While he expected to learn the ropes of the music department, he never expected how much he would discover about himself and his drive to give back to others. For his whole life he has been a nomad, traveling from one rehab to the next, in and out of the program, and never making any real connections. Now, at 27, Austin has found himself in the same place for longer than he has ever known, doing exactly what he was always meant to do but never knew he wanted to do.

Many of us find our therapy in sharing and listening, but for many of us here at Beit T’Shuvah, words are not enough. After years of drug abuse, the nasty divorce of his drug-addled family, and self-loathing, Austin finally found his way of communicating with his deeper feelings. The crazy thing is, it was a language he has spoken for years, but not until walking through the doors of Beit T’Shuvah (and even more specifically of Lake Street Studio) was he able to harness his natural gift to help heal himself and others.