It was really rough being on the streets. There are a lot of rules, you can’t be here, you can’t do that, it was just hard. I was addicted to drugs, I lost my home, I went through a divorce, and the worse part, my son was taken away. I couldn’t be the father he needed, so I couldn’t be in his life. I was at a low I never thought I would get to.
I had big plans for my future. I wanted to be a firefighter. When I was a junior in high school, I started at Porterville College to get my EMT Certificate. I got hired with the CDF to fight forest fires. I did that for a couple of years. I ended up joining the Marine Corps when Desert Storm happened. I got out of the service in 1994. I had many issues I just couldn’t get over and I turned to drugs. I knew what was right and what was wrong; I just always was doing what was wrong.
I started doing drugs socially, with friends. Than when issues or problems came up, I would turn to drugs. When I lost my home, I would sleep in fields, behind buildings or dumpsters, anywhere like that. I would try to stay out of sight, if someone saw me; they would wake me up and make me leave. I was scared on the streets. People sometimes pick on the homeless. I have had full beer cans thrown at me, just because I was homeless. I had a friend who was hit in the head with a bottle, it was rough.
It was word of mouth how I heard about the Visalia Rescue Mission. Other people on the streets told me they would serve me a meal and stuff like that. I came to the Mission for a meal, and then I started staying overnight in the shelter. I met Troy and Robert, employees of the Mission, and they had a big impact on me. Tyler, Adam and Gavie in the main office helped me with my goals and they got me connected with the veterans groups. San Joaquin Valley Veterans helped me find a job at a local restaurant here in town.
It was not easy at first when I started staying at the shelter. I had to get used to being around all the guys. I started to eventually make friends and I started to go to church. I really enjoyed church. I have always had a relationship with God, my dad was a preacher, and I had a really good upbringing. I turned my back on God, and was consumed by drugs, they blinded me. I started to seek God again and things began to change in my life.
Things are going good in my life now. I have a place to live. I am renting a room from a guy who is a veteran. I have a job at a local Visalia restaurant, where I prep cook and wash dishes. I really love the people there; it is such a good environment for me. The owner took a chance on me, I have almost been there a year now, and I really enjoy it. I read my bible every day and I still go to the Amazing Grace Chapel at Visalia Rescue Mission. I can see God working in my life, changing me to who he wants me to be. My favorite bible verse is John 3:16, For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
I am really grateful for the Visalia Rescue Mission, they helped me out, allowed me to get back on my feet, and they put me in contact with additional services. Angela with San Joaquin Valley Veterans has helped me out so much; I don’t think I would be in the position that I am in now, without being put in contact with them. Being homeless and addicted to drugs is a vicious cycle once you are caught up in it; it is hard to get out, really hard. The mission helped me change the things I was doing wrong, and now I seek God instead of running from him.