For me, family is everything. It’s how I grew up. My parents, my brothers and sisters, we were close. It’s the kind of family I wanted when I could one day have a family of my own.
I was a teenager when I fell in love with the mother of my kids. We had two children together and everything seemed on track — until we got addicted to crystal meth.
After our relationship ended a few years later, I was devastated. I not only lost my relationship with her, I lost my kids. I lost my lifelong dream of a loving family. I’d failed — and it hurt. It hurt so bad I had to numb myself with more meth and alcohol. It’s the only way I could forget. For the next 15 years, I worked and partied. I never got close to a woman again. It was just too painful.
That all changed in March 2013.
I met a woman, a meth addict like me, but we fell in love almost overnight. And like me, she wanted to get off the merry-go- round of meth. Unfortunately, neither of us knew how.
Worse, I was unemployed. And by summer, we were homeless on the streets of San Bernardino, living in a tent by a riverbed. Everything we owned was stuffed in shopping carts.
It was crazy out there, and dangerous. But at least we had each other, 24/7. And we did whatever we had to do to survive. We both knew it had to end, though. One day I did the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I left her to find a recovery program to get off drugs. When I couldn’t find one in San Bernardino, I almost gave up. But that’s when a friend told me about Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles.
I came the next day. Within two days, I felt connected to God in a way I never had before. That completely changed my life. Then I found out my girlfriend also got into a drug program in Long Beach! Since then, everything’s coming together. I’m not only sober, I’ve reconnected with my kids again and I’m determined to be a good father to them. All the anger and guilt I felt just washed away. I also entered school to become a chef. And now my girlfriend and I are talking about getting married and starting a family. Thanks to caring people like you who support Union Rescue Mission, maybe I’ll get to experience the family I always wanted after all.
Notes From Andy
It's Not Ok.
SKID ROW’S filthy, dangerous sidewalks and back-alleys are home to as many as 3,400 men, women, and children, struggling to survive in a world of predators and prostitutes, murderers and molesters, victims and victimizers.
They arrive here from every city and region in Los Angeles County and beyond. Some come seeking services and much-needed help. Others are sent here from communities that don’t want them anymore — but they’re not sending them here to get help. They’re sending them here to live and die.
There are so many hurting people on these streets we can no longer meet the demand. Every shelter is filled to capacity. Yet more keep coming every day.
I’m embarrassed and ashamed — and as a supporter of Union Rescue Mission, I know you are, too. As Steve Lopez recently wrote in the L.A. Times, “You keep waiting for someone to show up and say wait a minute, this is not OK.”
Well, I’m saying it now. It’s not OK. And it has to stop.