By: Jesse Solomon
There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that David Baer is the glue that holds Beit T’Shuvah together. This community is filled with eccentric personalities and larger than life circumstances, and in the middle of it all is an ex-con, father of two who never in a million years would have dreamed that his life would lead him to being in charge of so many people (all of whom are constantly in desperate need of his attention).
The responsibilities on Baer’s plate are too vast to name them all. So here is a taste: he is in charge of hiring, scheduling, and supervising the program facilitators; he schedules, creates, and oversees every group that happens both on campus and on Zoom; he decides what resident moves into what room and helps them to relocate in the eventuality that they don’t absolutely love their new rehab roommate—like I said, his responsibilities are vast. On top of all of that, Baer gets handed new responsibilities on a daily basis, like a juggler being tossed a chainsaw. Even while conducting the interview for this spotlight, people kept coming up to Baer to ask him to do things for them.
Los Angeles is lucky to have a native like David Baer among its dense population of phony faces and disingenuous socialites. You would be hard-pressed to find someone with more pride for his city than Baer. Immediately upon walking into his office, you are struck with the gargantuan shrine to the Dodgers and Lakers he has displayed—a telltale sign that Baer treats Beit T’Shuvah like a second home. Another notable fact about his office is that it is full of comfortable furniture for guests and unclaimed mail. That’s right—Baer also sorts and distributes the mail for the residents and staff members.
Although it seems natural, Baer’s ability to conquer any task given to him is not innate. It was carefully built on the back of decades of shooting and smoking meth, multiple stays in jail and prison, and the dream he could be more than his circumstances would dictate. “After getting out of prison and then waking up on a bus bench, again, I realized that this was no way to get to my goal of having a wife and a family,” Baer said. That was the moment he knew he had to turn his life around to achieve his ultimate goal of happiness. Three months later, he was a resident at Beit T’Shuvah.
The best parts of all of us can be found within David Baer. He exemplifies the courage of the residents, the caring of the community, and the drive of the staff. Without him, Beit T’Shuvah would fall into a manic state of chaos. While most of us spent this last year at home trying our very best not to isolate any more than prescribed, Baer was at work with addicts in need, fostering a safe environment for them to get the help they deserve. There is no challenge that this man cannot overcome. The tireless work he put into keeping us together during this pandemic proves that. David may truly be the only Bear that never hibernates.