When Mannie Legette arrived at the Star Gospel Mission in 2001, he was a broken man. When he left, he was a new man; a man who would go on to become a real life success story. This is the story of Mannie’s journey.
In a frank and open interview with Mannie he is quick to say that he suffers from two addictions. “My workaholism came from my mother and my alcoholism came from my father,” he said. “I started drinking when I was about 9 or 10. I discovered a bottle of Vodka under the car seat one day when my father went into the barber shop. I said: ‘Hummm, let me try this.’ That’s where it all began.”
Mannie didn’t enjoy school and stopped attending while in the 8th grade. He never attended high school, but when he was 18, “while drunk on wine, I took the GED, and, I don’t know how I did it, but I passed.”
Mannie was hard-headed and wouldn’t listen to his parents. “I wound up going to the penitentiary three times. The first time for house breaking grand larceny, the second time for violation of probation, and the third time for accessory before and after the fact of armed robbery.” For this third crime he served five and a half years at Kirkland Correctional Institution. While at Kirkland, he attend-ed school and received an AA degree in psychology. In 1979 Mannie got out on five years parole.
After his release he said that he still used, but stopped dealing drugs for fear of returning to the penitentiary. “It’s jail or hell… meaning six feet under,” he said. In 1985 Legette met Martha, his wife to be and they married. They had three children, two girls and a boy. The girls were taken from them by DSS when the oldest was five and the youngest was six months. Mannie has never seen them again. He said, “it was that traumatic experience that kept me drinking.”
Because of three DUI’s and no driver’s license, he worked for temp agencies for the next 11 years, living in public housing or at Crisis Minis-tries, a local shelter for the homeless.
One morning in May of 2001, he woke up in North Charleston, following a three month drinking binge, thinking that he was having a heart attack and a stroke all at the same time. “I knew I’d reached rock bottom. All the other things that had happened to me were nothing compared to this. It scared me so much, it was the final wake-up call. I called the detox center at MUSC, spent eight days there, and haven’t had a drink since,” he said.
Mannie’s next stop was the Star Gospel Mission where he spent the next fifteen months. While at the Mission, Legette said that he “saw the world and the way people were living outside of the Mission and decided… ‘I just didn’t want to go back to that life style.’” He made the decision to start life all over again and stuck to that resolve. Mannie believes that, “God has got to have some greater purpose for me since I’m still alive! I believe that God had a hand in my recovery. He must have a purpose for my life, be-cause I’m still here.” When asked about the influence that the Star Gospel Mission had on him, Mannie says that “It was a great place to stay; I slept there, I had food to eat, I was able to bank some money, it’s where I got back on my feet. I wouldn’t be where I am today had it not been for the Mission.”
Mannie left the Mission in 2002. Since then, he has gotten his driver’s license back (using Doug Donehue’s old Jeep to take the test), purchased a truck, secured consistent employment as a lead carpenter for a large construction company. Mannie has now become an independent contractor with his own company, Wolf Field Services, and just recently he has begun to purchase his first home. Mannie, who turned 56 a week ago, lives with Martha, his wife of 22 years, and their 20 year old son, Rusty, who is a second year student at Trident Tech studying culinary arts. We’re very proud to claim Mannie Legette as one of our true success stories here at the Star Gospel Mission!