10 Years Later

Stan graduated from Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s recovery program nearly 10 years ago. Growing up, Stan spent his afternoons near his father’s house in the projects here in our County with his sister, nieces, and nephews. He joined a gang, which he says was “a family affair.” From there his life took a downward spiral that looked like it might never stop. “I started to use marijuana and alcohol at 11 years old. I slowly started doing things adults do at a very young age. Living the street life took a very important role in my life, and I followed the example of the things I saw.

I tried cocaine for the very first time at the age of 13, and it progressed more and more. By the time I was 18, I had dropped out of high school and was completely addicted,” he says. “I started going to jail at the age of 20, and my life of incarceration began,” he says. “Gangs and drugs had robbed me from living a good and decent and meaningful life that could have been successful in so many ways, especially being a parent to my children.”

“On October 8, 2008, I said a quiet little prayer to myself, because the pain was too unbearable. God heard my prayer and I was rescued by the Santa Maria Police Department. I wasn’t sent to prison again, but given the opportunity to go to the Rescue Mission and change my life. I arrived with a gift. The gift of desperation.” That desperation gave Stan the courage to face his pain and walk into a new life. On November 14, 2009, he graduated from the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission and was awarded custody of his three children. He went on to college, and today he works in his field.

Stan has little doubt where he would be. “People like me don’t stay in residential programs. People like me don’t stay clean and sober for years. People like me don’t get custody of their kids. People like me don’t check in with parole or probation. People like me don’t reach out and ask for help. People like me die in their alcoholism, die in their addiction, die in prison.” Now he’s an active father and grandfather, a follower of Christ, a great employee, and an inspiring example that anyone can change – no matter what.