David Sampson, CEO of Mariners Inn Human Services

ear the southern end of Detroit’s Cass Corridor, across the street from the shell of the soon-to-be Red Wings arena, Mariners Inn’s treatment facility helps hundreds of homeless men each year struggling with substance abuse issues.

The facility’s halls are adorned with handmade art made by the men in the facility. Art therapy plays a huge role in what they do at Mariners Inn.

David Sampson has worked for Mariners Inn for 15 years and became the CEO in 2011. Sampson’s passion for working with those who suffer from addiction hits close to home.

“I’ve been clean and sober for 30 years,” Sampson says. The death of his sister, who also struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, motivated him to learn about seeking recovery for himself and others. “I like to point out that the disease of addiction doesn’t care who it impacts, where it impacts people or how it impacts their lives.”

When at full capacity, Mariners Inn can help about 156 people at a time. The men at Mariners Inn come to the facility completely voluntarily, rather than being forced by the courts.


Most clients are recommended through the Detroit Wayne County Mental Health Authority. However, some clients walk right in off the street, where they will sit down with the intake coordinator.

“The unique thing about us is that we don’t allow anybody that comes in the door asking for help to leave without getting it. If it’s not here, they’ll get it somewhere else. And we’ll actually take them there, too,” Sampson says. “Our folks often go outside the lines to try to get the best they can for the people that we serve.”

In addition to treating substance abuse issues, Mariners Inn provides its patients with access to literacy and computer training as well as vocational skill assistance and assessments.

Sampson recalls the story of a young man in his 20s who entered the program. Dealing with his mental health problems and addiction forced him to leave school. Sampson says the young man felt lost and hopeless. He then turned to Mariners Inn for help, where he stayed for over a year.

“When he left us, I actually personally took him to Eastern Michigan University, where he had gotten enrolled, gotten a dorm room, gotten his class schedule. The best part of that was that we took two other guys with him to actually show them that it was possible. Recovery is real and it’s possible,” Sampson says. “And if you stick to it and do what you need to do, you can actually regain the life that you left.”

Their Strengthening Families Program helps to educate and counsel the families of the men in substance abuse treatment. This key program helps prevent relapse once the men leave the inn. Through their monthly family dinners at the facility, the men are able to gather with their spouses, children, parents or siblings to begin building family relationships that may have been damaged.

“This is not a lost section of the community. The guys that come here had lives before the disease of addiction took over. Electricians, plumbers, lawyers, doctors. Most of them want to get back to that life and become productive members of society.

“I truly believe that we are saving families-one father at a time.”

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