Bismarck Man Makes a Huge Comeback in Life


Back in 2014 we introduced you to a special member of the Bismarck community, who has managed to regain his life after struggling with addiction and homelessness.

Renée Cooper had the opportunity to re-visit with him today, and learn more about his recovery and successes ever since.

You can’t tell by the looks of him now, but Mark Johnstone was homeless for over 30 years, which he attributes to his battle with alcoholism.

Johnstone adds, “I left Bismarck, I came back again and I cleaned my act up.”

It was in the summer of 2014 that Johnstone found a temporary home at Ruth Meiers. It was there that he was able to transition to where he is now, which is a two-bedroom house he rents himself.

Johnstone says, “It’s been nothing but up the ladder since then. I’ve had, you know, setbacks.”

Regardless, the now warehouse technician has been sober for over 4 years.

He explains, “Getting into recovery and everything has opened a lot of doors, because for thirty years, I wasn’t allowed to be around my family. Now I’ve got my whole family, I got to see my mom and my dad before he left.”

Johnstone lost his father in 2016. 

He shares, “I still struggle with that. I haven’t let that go fully. My best friend’s gone, my dad’s gone.”

But his positive attitude hasn’t faltered, and his co-workers and manager describe him as family.

Windows and Doors Store Owner Shane Paulson says, “He’s a pretty jolly guy, in a good mood and always joking around. He’s got a good sense of humor, you’ve got to get used to his sense of humor, but once you get used to it, guys like him and he gets along with everybody.”

Johnstone has made a name for himself in the community, fighting for the homeless and giving back to those who once picked him up.

He adds, “I know everybody and everybody knows me, and I’ve got tons of friends. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.”

Johnstone spends his weekends driving for PTI and is an active member of the Missouri Valley Coalition for the homeless.

On top of it all, he has visited classrooms to talk to students about alcohol and addiction. Johnstone plans on making it to more schools this year.

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