Community donates car to Fall River man recovering from opioid addiction

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WLNE) – A Fall River man who’s struggled with opioid addiction for many years, now has his life back on track but was in desperate need of transportation, that’s until his recovery community stepped up and got him a new ride.

Jared Moniz has been sober for five years, but getting there wasn’t an easy road.

“I was strung out,” said Moniz. “I was running around the city robbing banks. I got caught right down the road. I just surrendered and that day forward I never used again.”

The now 38-year-old’s battle with opioids goes back to his 21st birthday when he lost his father in a car accident.

“We got drunk. On the way home, he fell asleep on the wheel, he was too drunk. The estimated speed was 95 to 105 and we hit a wall. He died. I was in the hospital for a very long time,” Moniz explained. “My entire face got re-plated, I lost an eye, my whole body is all screws and plates, so dealing with the pain and dealing with the mental and physical together, it caused me to turn to self medicate with opiates.”

Moniz now has his life on track. He’s working at a local restaurant and is running weekly meetings at River To Recovery on Pleasant Street in Fall River along with Niki Fontaine, who is also a recovering addict.

“Seven years ago I was a homeless addict in Fall River,” Fontaine said. “So I started going to River To Recovery, I facilitate a Sunday night meeting and Jared ended up after he got released from prison, he has been coming there faithfully every Sunday and now he co-facilitates the meeting with me.”

Fontaine, who works as a homeless and substance use disorder advocate for the city, recently noticed that Moniz needed a new mode of transportation.

“His bike broke down probably two months ago and he was walking to and from work, whether it was snow, rain, doesn’t matter.”

She posted on Facebook asking for donations, and when she got $500, she started thinking bigger. She posted again, asking for people to continue donating to a bigger goal.

Among those who donated were a Fall River police officer, workers at a wellness center, a local homeless organization, and a recovery center.

“Tons more donations flooded in, and we were able to give him a car!”

Moniz was surprised at last Sunday’s meeting, where he was told he was getting a new bicycle, just to find out that the car out back was his.

“He was, like, floored, you know, because no one’s ever done that for him, anything like that, so it was great to see,” Fontaine said.

Moniz said he’s going to use the car to give back. He and his fiance, Crystal, run a Facebook group where they collect donations for people in need.

“A big problem we had was a lot of people didn’t have rides to get the donations so I think this car is a blessing and my way of paying it forward,” Moniz said. “I’ve never been more proud to say I am from Fall River… just to know that they care enough about me.”

Now he has four wheels instead of two to continue his important work and stay on the right path.

“I would never be able to afford a car. I work minimum wage at a restaurant, I would never be able to afford a vehicle. I was perfectly accepting the fact that I’m just a bike guy, I just ride my bike everywhere. The fact that I have a car now is life-changing.”

The group of donors also set aside some money for gas and registration, Fontaine said.

Moniz has his permit and is awaiting his road test to officially get behind the wheel of his car.

To learn more about River To Recovery click here.

Categories: Fall River, Massachusetts, News, Regional News