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Deep Within’s Humes honored after battle with coronavirus

Left a legacy of saving men from addiction and leading them to God

Posted 6/30/20

More than 200 people gathered at Bellevue Heights Church in Sun City June 27 to honor a man who made it his life’s work to help those living on the streets, many struggling with alcoholism and …

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Deep Within’s Humes honored after battle with coronavirus

Left a legacy of saving men from addiction and leading them to God


More than 200 people gathered at Bellevue Heights Church in Sun City June 27 to honor a man who made it his life’s work to help those living on the streets, many struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction.

The memorial service for Peoria-based Deep Within Rehab co-founder Lee Humes, 60, honored a man described by many as tenacious, self-sacrificing, positive, humble, faithful to god, responsible, dependable, a marine and a servant.

In the end, many concurred: those who came into contact with him were undeniably touched by Mr. Humes.

RELATED: Peoria leader incapacitated by virus as organization stays afloat

But his death due to complications from the coronavirus came at an unfortunate time — Deep Within was in the midst of a capital campaign to put the nonprofit on the path to self sufficiency.

For more than 50 days in the hospital, he battled and beat the virus, but suffered a heart attack and other ailments before succumbing, May 29, 2020.

Senior Pastor Tim Andersen said Mr. Humes was a gifted, gregarious, capable man who gave himself so others could find what he found — that real living is found only in giving.

“Lee Humes very aggressively served his savior. He served his family, his country and he served men, many of them dealing with the same demons that Lee had in his own life. The Lord’s timing in calling him home was no mistake, though I doubt there is a person here who wouldn’t argue with that timing,” he said.

Mr. Humes was on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving a legacy in the form of the faith-based Deep Within, which has given a home to countless men addicted to drugs and alcohol for more than 15 years, offering them three meals a day, hygiene items, clothing, employment training, employment and recovery support.

‘Bold as a lion’

During the early years of Deep Within, Leander Yaiva, who spoke at the memorial, was one of those men.

He said he was a severely broken man, an alcoholic and drug addict, living on the streets of Torrance, California, before Deep Within gave him the tools to live a productive life.

He shared a story about how Mr. Humes was very intentional and confident in leading him on a path of recovery.

It was a time when he was doing a physically demanding job with Deep Within in the dead of the Arizona summer.

“There were days in the very beginning when I wanted to give up, and he pulled me aside and he said, ‘What time do you go to bed?’ I said about 9 or 10 o’clock. He looked at his watch and he said, ‘Can you do this for the next six hours?’ And it seemed more feasible. I looked at him and I said yeah, I can do it for the next six hours. ‘I don’t want you to do this for the rest of your life, I just want you to do this for the next six hours,’” Mr. Yaiva said.

“There’s been many times in my life when I have experienced challenges and struggles and I’d think to myself, can you do this for the next six hours? Can you do it just for today. Just for today. And I am a direct result of that. I aspire to be Lee Humes. Everything he did, everything that he taught me about recovery, about manhood, about family, about his style, the things he would say that resonate in my mind today. Things like: the wicked flee when no one is pursing them, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. He’d look at me and he’d say, ‘You’ve got to decide — do you have King Kong balls or ping pong balls. I’m sorry I don’t know if I can say balls in church.”

‘He wouldn’t want us to stop’

Only weeks before the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, Deep Within launched a capital campaign and had received $90,000 of their $250,000 goal that would allow the nonprofit to buy their property and transition into an Arizona licensed substance abuse treatment facility.

In a letter read at the memorial, Peoria Councilwoman Denette Dunn said Mr. Humes focused not on himself, but on his greater calling.

“While we know his absence will be greatly felt at Deep Within, his passing leaves opportunities for others to pick up where he left off, for someone to carry the baton, so to speak. It may not be in the grand capacity as Lee, but we can honor his life by helping others in any measure possible,” she said.

Deep Within has provided residents more than 185,000 room nights and served more than 530,000 meals. More than 300 group sessions are provided annually, and in the past three years, the nonprofit has offered more than 870 men an alternative to a life of addiction and homelessness.

In a letter read at the ceremony, Kevin Jex, who represents the Peoria Police Officers Association, said God called Mr. Humes too early, but obviously God had a new plan for him.

The association donated tree from Moon Valley Nursery in Mr. Humes’ honor to be planted on the two-acre property at Deep Within, located at 91st and Grand avenues.

Mr. Jex stated in the letter he didn’t immediately learn of Mr. Humes nickname, “the legend,” but he quickly found it suitable.

“Lee was a legend alright. A legend is someone who leaves behind an unforgettable impression on others. They touch lives and are remembered and cherished. There’s all sorts of legends in this world, famous or not. Becoming one requires finding your particular role, your calling, following it and touching others around you. Lee has done this on every level. He did that for himself, his family, his community, for the city of Peoria, for all the men he helped at Deep Within,” he said.“Lee was non-stop, a hard worker, and a no-nonsense person. He helped push men to get back on track, created opportunities, and have goals to leave their past behind them. Lee did a tremendous job doing the Lord’s work.”

Despite the pandemic, there continues to be no line between the Humes and their Deep Within family — the organization has not stopped providing services at no cost to its residents, who, in turn, work to help support the ministry.

And assistant director Brian O’Donnell said at the memorial that Deep Within would keeping going.

“He wouldn’t want us to stop. He would want us to keep going,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “He will be looking down, he will be listening, and he will be guiding me and he will be guiding the family.”

Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697, phaldiman@newszap.com, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.