RICK FORD, who has spent 20 years helping people recover from drug and alcohol abuse, wants folks to call his WURD-900AM talk show tonight and tell their stories of rebirth and renewal.

"Based on all the negative things going on - shootings and killings, crime and violence - I think it's essential that folks call in to talk about their recovery," Ford said.

"I want to end the year on a good note and show that recovery is alive and well here in the city of Philadelphia," he said.

"I want to show that there's a way out of addiction. I want folks to have hope in healing."

Ford's "Recovery Talk 101" call-in number is 215-634-8065 from 6 to 7 p.m.

"Philadelphia is the mecca for people in recovery," Ford said. "You'll find people coming here from Baltimore, Trenton, Newark. We're almost like the underground railroad for recovery because you can come here without insurance and get a high level of treatment and residential care."

Ford has spent 20 years as a community liaison for the city's Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services on 8th Street near Market, where he gets uninsured and under-insured drug and alcohol addicts into recovery programs.

"If someone calls for treatment and says, 'I don't have any insurance,' we'll meet you at detox or rehab, and we'll make sure we get you into treatment," Ford said.

After that, he said, lifelong recovery continues through the support of a sponsor [mentor] and a 12-Step program.

Ford has a sponsor, and is a sponsor to eight other men.

"Part of being in recovery is to go back [in your mind] to where you created hell, and show people there's a way out," Ford said.

"I just met with my group of guys last weekend at my house," he said. "We were real men discussing real-men issues like how to be a husband, how to be a father and what we are doing to maintain spiritual buoyancy."

Ford said his support group of people who have experienced the same struggle is vital to recovery.

"In 1993, I walked into my mother's house and found her dead," Ford said, his voice thick with emotion. "I was only two years clean at the time. If it wasn't for the support of the people in my 12-Step program, I don't know if I could have made it.

"My family was so small you could fit us all into one car for the funeral," he said. "When we got there, 100 people who knew me from the program were there to support me."

Ford has dedicated his life to being there for his fellow people in recovery. Philadelphia, he said, is the best city he knows for giving people the chance to become clean and sober again.

"We bounce back!" he said. "We are a resilient city, man!"