Archive for March, 2015
This short video encapsulates the beauty of our graduation ceremony. Each individual who completes our 12-month Residential Recovery Program is honored in one of these exciting celebrations.
Michael was raised by loving parents and enjoyed a great childhood with his two brothers. At the age of three, growths requiring surgery were discovered on Michael’s vocal cords. Over a seven-year period, he had multiple operations that affected his ability to speak. He was ridiculed by his peers, and he began to feel like an outsider. Michael desperately wanted to fit in, and he found a new set of friends with whom he smoked pot on a daily basis.
At the age of 18, Michael experimented with cocaine, which gave him all the confidence he needed. His father passed away and this led him to a life of isolation and drug use. He built impenetrable walls and became an unmotivated, fearful individual. After a friend told him there was hope for people like him, Michael called the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission for 55 consecutive days until a bed was available.
Michael said the first thing he was told when he entered the program was that only one thing needed to change, and that was “everything.” He committed himself to the demands of the recovery program and faced his fears. Michael was also able to work with a grief counselor and come to terms with the death of his father. Michael concluded, “I have been able to take direction when I felt I didn’t need to and come to the understanding that my way isn’t always the right way.”
When Leslie was a little girl, she vividly remembers her dad physically abusing her mom. Her mother eventually left her father and raised Leslie and her two siblings. To support the family, her mother started working with the Mexican drug cartel in Mexico and brought Leslie with her. As a little girl, Leslie saw drugs, alcohol and sex. Ultimately, her mother was caught and went to jail. At the age of 14, Leslie began smoking marijuana and drinking, and a year later she started smoking meth.
By the time she was 17, Leslie was homeless and committing crimes to support her addiction. This led to transporting immigrants over the border from Mexico. Leslie engaged in this dangerous activity over many years until she was caught by border patrol. She returned to a homeless lifestyle and, before her third arrest, realized how very tired she was of this pattern.
While in jail, Leslie began reading a Bible, and she filled out an application for Bethel House. She was accepted and this is where her recovery started. Leslie spoke for her graduating class on March 14, 2015, and shared, “I’m a year clean and sober. I have a job, I’m getting my high school diploma, and I know that if I keep doing the next right thing, God’s got me and won’t let me go.”
“I became a heroin addict and fought it for 30 years,” Lance admits, remembering how he lost jobs, home, even family over his pain and addiction. “I was homeless a lot of times,” Lance says, and he was always isolated. “I hated myself so much that I couldn’t love anybody,” he remembers. “And I was ashamed about being a heroin addict for 25-plus years. I didn’t ever want to tell anybody . . . but it was my story,” he admits.
When Lance finally hit bottom, serving time in jail, he also found out about a place where he could find the peace and purpose he’d lost: at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. “Everybody was talking about how this place rebuilds broken lives,” he remembers. “Then I came here, and you learn about Jesus’ love,” he marvels. “And you learn to put Him first and love your neighbors. So I was like, ‘wow, I have a chance at this! God does love me.’ It’s the first time I felt unconditional love.” “I know angels are all around us at the Mission, from those who give to the ones who volunteer. It’s amazing what I see today, and what I feel!” he says. “I love the Mission. It saved my life!”