Danny Looney went from homeless meth addict to local pastor, and now runs a nationwide non-profit called Rock Bottom Hope. He uses his story, experiences, and passions to lead a team that brings hope to people experiencing rock bottom all over the US. Whatever rock bottom moment they may be experiencing his team provides hope-filled conversation, individualized road map to recovery, and partners with therapy clinics, detox center, and rehabs to help people find the best resources for them. Since the launch of 2020 they have had over 1,000 conversations with people and see life-changing miracles happen from coast to coast.
So today, you’re going to learn a bit of Danny’s story, hear incredible testimonies, talk about the 4 C’s of Rock Bottom Hope, and hopefully gain a little more hope yourself for those in our community who are struggling to live life to their fullest capacity.
Unknown Speaker 0:00
because that is what rock bottom hope is all about. Right? We are going into those rock bottom moments, those rock bottom places, whether it's drugs, alcohol, depression, anxiety, fear coming out of sex trafficking, whatever it looks like we go into that place and we say, hey, we want to meet you here.
Welcome to cascade views a discussion with Central Oregon leaders. Your host is Michael site, local business and community leader, Best Selling Author of the Avada principle and candidate for Oregon State Representative for House District 53, which encompasses southern Redman sisters tremolo in northern bend. The purpose of these discussions is to share the views and insights of local leaders from a variety of community sectors on a range of timely and important regional and state issues. With that, now, here's your host, Michael SIPE.
Michael Sipe 1:00
Thanks for joining us on cascade views. My name is Michael SIPE, and I'm here today with Danny Looney. Anyone from homeless meth addict to local pastor and now runs a nationwide nonprofit called Rock Bottom hope. He uses his story experiences and passions to lead a team that brings hope to people experiencing rock bottom, all over the United States. Whatever rock bottom moment they may be experiencing. His team provides hope filled conversation, individualized roadmap to recovery, and partners with therapy clinics, detox centers and rehabs to help people find the best resources for them. Since the launch in 2020, they have had over 1000 conversations with people and they see life changing miracles happen from coast to coast. So today you're going to learn a little bit of Danny's story here incredible testimonies. Talk about the four C's of rock bottom hope, and hopefully gain a little more hope yourself. For those in our community who are struggling to live life fully to their fullest capacity. You can learn more at rock bottom home.org That's rock bottom home.org. And with that, it's my pleasure to welcome my friend Danny Looney to the show. Hi, Danny.
Unknown Speaker 2:07
Hi, Mike, thank you so much for having me today.
Michael Sipe 2:09
It's great to see you. You've been in Texas, and you're back in Oregon for a short while and it's just really cool to get reconnected. Thanks for being here to be on the show. Let's start by just having you tell me just a little bit about your backstory. It's fascinating. And I think our listeners are gonna really relate to kind of the story that brought you to this point.
Unknown Speaker 2:29
Yes. So I was born to amazing Christian parents, God fearing parents who were pastors and raised really well they loved me. Unfortunately, I'm 14 years old after being homeschooled I got into public high school 2500 students. You know, I always joke that I was able to have a conversation with a 60 year old but I didn't know how to talk to people my own age. So I was thrust into that environment. And unfortunately, I just chose a really hard path of drugs and alcohol I got started partying at an early age. And I would say that between the ages of 14 and 24, I just spiraled into a severe meth addiction. Ultimately, using intravenously you know, shooting up four or five times a day finding myself homeless on the streets of Portland, couchsurfing sleeping and truckstops sleeping in cars when I had them in and out of jail, and really just hitting that rock bottom place.
Michael Sipe 3:36
Well, so. So that's a rough start, but but there was something happened that turned that around. So kind of tell me the story about how that got turned around.
Unknown Speaker 3:46
Yeah, so July 24 2008, it was a nothing more than a miraculous moment. Honestly, I was next to a toilet trying to hit a vein. I couldn't because they were all set up 115 pounds. And if you can imagine, you know being almost six foot 115 pounds is pretty amazing. ated you could count every ribbon in my body, I'd sores all over teeth falling out of my head, and I really didn't think that my life would amount to anything. Honestly, I think I just lost everything that I thought I could be because of just being so immersed in the addiction. And it was in that moment that kind of my life flashed before my eyes. You know, you hear that saying your life flashed before my eyes and it did and I thought, is this how they're going to find me? They're gonna find this body and if I'm if I die, this is how my parents, my siblings. This is how everyone will remember me. And I remember just the love of God. I can only describe it as the love of God the peace of God, the Holy Spirit in that moment filling the bathroom and saying I'm faithful to meet you where you're at, and I'm just as faithful not to leave you there. And it was July 24 2008. That was the last time I ever used. I just celebrated this last Sunday, 14 years of sobriety, walking with Jesus.
Michael Sipe 5:15
That's amazing. You were still in trouble, though, even though you made it even though I was a bad choice. Yeah. So just tell us a little bit because there was some some grace in the, in the judicial system, too, right?
Unknown Speaker 5:26
Yes, yes, I ended up checking into a program called Adult and Teen Challenge. And I went through that one year rehabilitation program. And I found out that there were some warrants out for my arrest, which was one of the things that kept me in the program, I didn't want to come back to Oregon, I was in Washington, I said, Oh, I guess I'll stay. I guess I'll finish out my time here. It's better finishing it out here than in jail. So I get back to Oregon, and I go before the judge. And the DA is just hammering me, you know, and I thought, Oh, I'm gonna finish the program, and everything's gonna be great, right, like, just kind of float on through and hopefully, doors will open. And, um, you know, I think that God really worked on my heart. So I was ready to go to prison. I mean, I was ready. And I tears going down my, you know, going down my face. And the DEA said, we don't believe in this program we went through, we don't think it's credible, we really, you know, we really believe that he should be in prison. And the judge let her talk for a long time. And he said, Well, ma'am, not only do I know, what a team challenges, but I served on their board of directors for 20 years, and I believe in this program, and I want this man released immediately. And they actually normally don't do this. But they took my ankle bracelet off in the court. They came and took it off, because I had been on house arrest and everything just because I had felonies on my record. And they didn't want me to flee. But, you know, I was released and then fast forward to the beginning of 2020. And I was able to get all seven of my felonies completely expunged off my record. And you know, you don't think about Scripture coming from the state of Oregon often. But there was a letter that they sent. And in this letter that they sent, this is how God works. The letter literally said, This letter is to prove that it says if these things had never happened. And when I read that, I mean tears were just, you know, coming down my face, because I mean, it had been you know, I'd have those felonies. My last felony conviction was 2009. And, you know, in your mind, you're just sure you can become a pastor, which I did, you can start a nonprofit, which I did. But in the back of your mind, you're kind of like, well, I'm always a felon, right? I'm always going to be a felon. And so now you could search you could do, you could pull as many things as you want. And you'll never find any record of any of it ever having happened. Another cool thing is that they had to reach out to my victims to see if they would object. And one of the victims said, I actually follow him on rock bottom hope now. And I absolutely love what he's doing. I don't objective at all. And I think that he should be should be erased off of his record. So hearing that, I mean, this is just the transformative power of the God that we serve. He comes in and he makes all things new. And he's never done. He's never finished.
Michael Sipe 8:29
So so from the courtroom, you ended up becoming a pastor. So right also just a little bit about men. I want to hear how you got rock bottom hope started?
Unknown Speaker 8:37
Absolutely. Yeah, I became. So I ended up moving to bend after that. And I worked with Adult and Teen Challenge for two and a half years as their intake coordinator. And then the pastor that ended up I met my wife and we the pastor that ended up marrying us and brought both of us on staff at the church and I just continued to work my way up, I started a janitorial business, and then worked my way up and finished the last three years Mission Church, as a campus pastor, and some of the best years of my life, some of the most growing, stretching and learning times being in ministry and seeing people come to Jesus every single Sunday throughout the week as we disciple people. It really changed my life and set me up for success as I got ready to launch rock bottom home.
Michael Sipe 9:30
So tell us about how that came about. Because that's a pretty big moves because you were really well established. You were known throughout the community as a pastor or a leader. And then and then you started new. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 9:43
So tell us about let's go back to 2015 for just a moment. So my wife and I were sitting on the front porch and we were actually brainstorming names of an autobiography, which I still haven't written. So pray for me my contents you know, you know Yes. So, but we were brainstorming, and I said, Well, I want it to be something positive. But I'd love for it to also be about rock bottom. Because how was my rock bottom moment? And I think that, you know, I just want and my wife actually said, What about rock bottom hope. And I thought, that is the perfect name for a book for my life. I love it. So then it was just a conversation, all of that got put on the back burner, and you know, we're doing ministry live stuff happens. And fast forward to 2019. In April 2019, my wife and I both just felt like it's time, like it's time to resign from the church. And God wants us to launch something that is for people that are experiencing those, those moments, right, those rock bottom moments. And there was, again, we just said, this is going to be rock bottom hope. And it's going to be, it's going to tie in to that moment where I was next to the toilet where God says, I am faithful to meet you where you're at. And I'm just as faithful not to leave you there. And that is, that is what rock bottom hope is all about. Right? We are going into those rock bottom moments, those rock bottom places, whether it's drugs, alcohol, depression, anxiety, fear, coming out of sex trafficking, whatever it looks like, we go into that place, and we say, hey, we want to meet you here. God wants to meet you here. But you don't have to stay here. And it's all about that real those relational next steps of finding the resources, finding the roadmap to recovery, and then giving them that accountability, that encouragement, that inspiration to keep moving forward.
Michael Sipe 11:44
So tell us just a little bit about your team and how the other organization work, you're set up as a nonprofit, right and ready. So how did you put all this together?
Unknown Speaker 11:52
Yeah. Well, that is a really loaded question. Because I will tell you that in September, when I officially resigned, we hadn't launched the organization yet. But I was in the mindset of, kind of like, I was just going to be this local missionary that was cleaning at night and just meeting with people during the day. And it was going to be you know, just hanging out in band loving on people. And, you know, going into the homeless camps here and there or whatever, go into the rehabs. And then all of a sudden, it was January, and we were launching, and I had a team of like, 15 people, and I'm thinking, Well, cool. I have a team. So what does that mean? I mean, what are they going to do? You know, and on a brainstorming session with some of our volunteers stuff, we came up with the term hope coach. And so we have a team that split into a social media team, prayer team, and our hope coach team and our hope coaches, they are using their story of overcoming rock bottom kind of going back to Revelations 1211, we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. And they're using that to bring people back to the hope of the Gospel, all while relationally walking them through those next steps. So they're coaching them back to a place of hope. Because the people that we work with the people that reach out, they're hopeless, they're in desperate situations, they don't know how to get out. And it could be the addict themselves, or it could be the loved ones that are dealing with the addict. But we pair them up with somebody that's overcome something similar, I hope coach that's overcome something similar, because we know that in sharing our own story, it gives them the ability to see that their story doesn't end there, that their story has only just begun. And if they can begin to embrace their past, that they can be challenged to live a future of fulfillment of success, a future filled with hope.
Michael Sipe 13:49
So that all sounds great. Yeah, surely you got a couple of success stories for it. Absolutely. Tell you anonymously. Just tell us how this actually works with real people.
Unknown Speaker 13:59
Yeah. I'll tell you that one of the first people that we came alongside during this time, he was he had actually gotten out of Teen Challenge, but he was really struggling. I mean, when you get out of a program, it's not easy to adjust and acclimate to society if you don't stay on and do an internship or something like that. So as he was really struggling, and he reached out, he's like, gosh, I don't got a place to live. I don't know what I'm going to do. And one of the things that we offer through rock bottom hope are you know, financial scholarships. And they can they're, you know, they're minimal. They're not like you know, we don't we're not like here's a million dollars or whatever, but they're things that give them a hand up right? And so we were able to with our network be able to provide this man who just got out and who's like establishing live his life. We were able to provide him with a place to live we actually got a motorhome donated a nice one that he was at Little to take and get on some property and really begin to live out his life, through our networking, we were able to connect him with a job. So he was able to get a job through our network, he was able to get a home through our network. And then he was able to connect with the hub coach that through has, and he's still connected to the home to our coach today. And through that time, he's able to build up his life, build up his relationship with the Lord, stay in a place of hope, stay in a place of success and be able to work through the life's issues, life stuff that comes at us, you know, and have that hand up to be able to say, you know, I've got something, I've got a place to go, I got a warm bed, or a cool bed, depending on the temperature outside. And, and I've got a job to go to. And it's a culture where I can really like dig in and begin to get rooted. So that's one huge success story. Another one that's most recent, is some parents that have reached out for their son. And he was he he has overdosed over 20 times on heroin. And you know that the opioid epidemic is it's crazy normal, right? I mean, it's just huge. It's, it's slamming the nation. And so his parents reached out on behalf of him. And in working with the parents, what we find is that the parents are experiencing a rock bottom to this is their rock bottom moment, their biggest pride desperation, and they're watching their child, kill himself. But they don't know what to do. They're desperate for answers. And so we begin working with them and connecting them with the hub coach, who then checks in with them daily and says, How can we set up a roadmap to recovery for you, and also work with your child, because you both are needing a lot of hope right now. And so the success story there is that we worked with them to help them find the right place the right connections, and help them see where they needed to draw the hard line. Because parents are enabling right now, parents are there not knowing what to do. And so they either don't do anything, or they just provide all the necessities to just use. I mean, because they're given them a soft place to land. And these addicts, they gotta hit rock bottom. So she just sent me a picture of her son who has just celebrated three months of sobriety. And he is with a group of people, a group of Christian young men going out and serving the community. And he has the biggest smile on his face doesn't look like he's ever odd day in his life. It's just amazing. And the parents have also, though, even through this, drawn the hard line and said, Hey, here's the line, this is what we're willing to do. This is what we won't do. So,
Michael Sipe 17:39
you know, it's an interesting point, because, you know, so as we think about the person with the addiction, or whatever the challenge is, but but a whole family, whole community, whole friend network, there's a lot of people involved in, in this much bigger picture, I want to kind of circle back maybe just a minute and ask about the four C's. Okay, so the program you have that is an acronym or whatever. So tell us just a little bit about that.
Unknown Speaker 18:04
Yeah, so the four C's are connection, conversation, community. And those are the three most important. And I think that when you start with the conversation, you've got to begin that initial conversation, right, they reach out or you reach out to them and you begin the conversation of hope. And then when you talk about connection, you get them connected to a hub coach, then through the hub coach after connection, you have a community, and you get them plugged into a community of people. And then you have I'm stumbling over my words here, but you have consistency. And through conversation, connection, community and consistency, you begin to build a life for yourself. And you begin to have like this community, this network of people that is lifting you up, and holding your arms up when things get weak, you know, I always go back, I don't want to preach a message. But I go back to Exodus 17. You know, where Moses is, you know, they're and they're trying to overcome the Amalekites. And Aaron and her have to come alongside and hold his arms up so that they can defeat the enemy because you get weak. And we're dealing with a lot of weak people right now, like I said, desperate and hopeless, and they need conversation. They need connection, they need community, and it all has to have consistency. It's gotta have consistency. We all need to you know, you know, Mike more than I do that without consistency. It's not going to work.
Michael Sipe 19:44
So I'm going to, we're going to time for a couple more questions. And so I want to take you kind of on a little different tack. Worried. It's not there's not a bad tack. It's just it's a tough one though. And that is that Um, women enormous issue in. In the world, we have an enormous issue in Oregon and enormous issue in Bend in regard to homelessness, addiction mental health. So I'm I'm curious, because because you've been there, okay? Absolutely. And that's the that's the that's the best guy to talk to what's the path for a legitimate path for someone who is in that place, maybe in a homeless camp here in Bend, maybe struggling with addiction, maybe some related mental health issues that either started them down the path or the the drugs caused or whatever? What some legitimate and believable path that could could help them come out of that and and get plugged into the kinds of policies that you talk about?
Unknown Speaker 20:57
I think that the hardest part of answering that question is that it all comes to the back to the individual, and their desire to actually get the help. And I know that that's not what anybody wants to hear. And that's probably the hardest conversation that I have with parents when they reach out on behalf of their kids who, who are homeless, I mean, who, who have chosen and I know that some of them because of life circumstances haven't necessarily chosen it. But when they when they've created a life that is completely immersed in the cycle of drug abuse, and mental health, and then all of the trauma that they put themselves through or, or are just in because of life circumstances, there has to be an initial desire to actually want to get help. And I would say that when that person reaches out or even if there's like an inkling of a desire, that's when we throw the you know, the net out, and or the life, you know, the lifeline and begin the conversation, you know, the four C's begin that conversation of Okay. Here's the first step, the first step is that we got to get you in somewhere, you know, which I know that we've got organizations in Bend and throughout the US, we need more. We do need more the homeless issue. I mean, we can't just the answer is not a band aid where we're throwing up emergency homeless camps in random locations. That's just not the answer. You know, I think that we live in this, we still live in a very rich country, no matter what our national debt is. And overall, you know, we're in a very rich country. And we've got to look at the what we have and say, what resources do we actually need? And how can we streamline the process of getting people into the shelters and then streamline the process, from the shelters to re addiction rehabilitation to detox to you know, Scrum? I mean, we've got, I don't know if there's any more now, but I know when I was here in Bend, there were two detox centers. And that's it. And I don't think there was, I don't think there's a detox center, in Bend, I think they're outside of bend, I think there might be a referral place. But to have a community the size of bend without a detox center, and the beds are full. When we connect somebody, I mean, it's hard, because I'm sending them out of Central Oregon, to detox because there's nothing available that the wait is three, you know, two to three to four weeks, sometimes for people, and these are the people that have the desire in that moment. And if we don't capitalize on that, I mean, they just go right back to it. And so it's that individual need that first hint of a desire to change, where you begin the conversation, then you've got the connection, then you can the community part in that sense, when you're dealing with the homelessness would be let's get them into a shelter. But then the shelters need the training and the education to be able to say, Okay, what is that next step to provide? Rehabilitation, detox, mental health, streamlining, mental health, we need more we need. That's all I can say is we need more, because I think that you see, the people working in those fields don't have the bandwidth to give anymore.
Michael Sipe 24:37
Right. You know, as I've talked to people working in this field, I've actually dug into quite a bit over the last few months. One of the recurring themes is that in order to to really be valuable to someone to help them come out, they need what you refer to as connection or relationship. And so what it seems to me like is that with rock bottom hope What you're providing, you know, through the volunteers and the hope coaches are actually real people to do that. Because if you, if you just talked about a theory, theoretically, it doesn't really solve anything, you have to actually have a person who cares and is willing to, to grab a hand when it's reached out, to actually to, to engage with that person who's seeking out. And so that leads me kind of to my last question. Sounds to me like rock bottom hope could could stand to grow a lot. Yes. You know, it's a nonprofit and, and so you're not doing this to, you know, become mega wealthy Titan, you're trying to help people. And so how do people get engaged with rock bottom? Hope? How could they support the project? How could they become coaches, or just fill us in on on what to do? Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 25:47
So the first thing is that I would say go to our website and read every page, because that's going to give you a lot of information, www dot rock bottom home.org. And get to know who we are, you know, get to know my story, get to know, our core values and the mission statement, the four C's, read all of it and take it in and just see if that resonates. There's a place to give on there as well, but learn about who we are. And then if you want to get involved with giving or becoming a home coach, we have an incredible training program for our hope coaches. That is about 25 hours worth video modules done by authors and speakers and other coaches that lead coaches. And there, it's an incredible video video module series that we have our home coaches go through as a training. And then we have ongoing hope coach, see us that we do with all of our team, that the that's the best way, shoot us a message on rock bottom hope.org. Or you can call and talk to somebody on our helpline. And this is a good one for people that are at rock bottom, or who knows someone at rock bottom or who want to get involved. And that is 877423 Hope, that's 877 43 hope they can text it, they can call it, they can email us, I'd love to speak with you directly. You know, one of the things that we foresee over the next year, Mike is launching what we're calling hope homes and the name of them would be rbh reset, where people with any background, whatever rock bottom they're experiencing, there'd be a men's and a women's home. And it's not a rehab. But it is a place for people to come and press reset on their lives. Start the four C's or really dig into the four C's, and then be immersed in prayer, discipleship training, vocational training, just all of the things that they're going to need to really find their identity, understand not just who they are, but who's they are, and then be able to go back into the community and really be changed. And we want to work with families holistically. So we don't just want the one person to come and change. But we want whoever they're going back to whatever their circle of influence is back home, whether they're married parents, siblings, whatever it is, we want them to go back to a changed environment as well.
Michael Sipe 28:21
One of the things I love about what you're doing is is that when I look at at at this is overall challenge, you know, if you put it in homelessness, addiction, mental health, part of the thing that I think that's an impediment to solving it, is that it's sort of referred to like this glob of a thing. And like everyone's the same. It's like, there's there's no real distinction between people. They're just a bunch of addicts. All right, a bunch of crazy people or a bunch of people living on the street. And the reality of it is, is that we're all people, we're all individuals. And everybody's got an individual story in that. And what I've admired about rock bottom hope from the beginning, is that you're not about the glob you're about going after that one person who is saying, hey, I want some help, and then you grab a hold of their hand. And in help them out of that. I think that's just absolutely remarkable. But that means you got to have people to do it. There's, I mean, there's work to be done. And so I'm really grateful for you being on the show today. I hope that people listening will go on the website, and I hope that they will actually reach out to help you in some way. Whether it's learning how to be a hope coach, or plugging into the system for themselves or someone they love, or, or pitching in some money to help support all this. It costs money to do this work. But the lives saved out of the work of rock bottom hope are valuable. They're valuable lives they're they're invaluable. And so I just love what you're doing and and wish nothing but absolutely great success for rock bottom. Hope as you go forward. Again, you can go to rock bottom hook.org and learn more. But I absolutely encourage everyone to do that. Danny, thanks so much for being on the show.
Unknown Speaker 30:07
Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate you, Mike. Have a great day.
Michael Sipe 30:11
And thanks for tuning in.
Thanks for listening to cascade views with Michael SIPE. To find out more about Mike the upcoming election. The key issues he's focused on in his campaign to represent Central Oregon and Salem as a state representative. Visit www dot a voice for Central oregon.com that's www dot a voice for Central oregon.com You can get your own copy of Michael sipes best selling book the Avada firstname.lastname@example.org. And finally, please vote in the upcoming election. Your Voice Matters