Growing up in a Mexican family, we’ve always liked spending time together — especially at Thanksgiving. Every year, at least 30 of us — brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins — would gather together to feast and enjoy one another as a family.
But thanks to drugs, I missed more than a few Thanksgivings. High on drugs, I would remember my family celebrating without me. Then sadness would overwhelm me and I’d cry.
I’ve been a crack addict for more than 25 years. And for 20 of those years, I tried to get clean . . . again and again and again. Over and over, I’d get sober, then go right back to drugs. I’ve had several good jobs and lost every one of them because of drugs. When I hit bottom again in 2011, my sister was so angry.
We’ve been close all our lives. She loves me like a mother. But this time, she just said, “Why do you keep doing this? You might as well go kill yourself!”
I don’t know why I keep sabotaging my life. I guess I don’t want to face my problems. But what my sister said hurt. And it got my attention. I came to Union Rescue Mission on June 1, 2011, and today I’ve been sober for over a year.
I’ve come to realize that the only way to overcome my addictions is through the Bible, dying to myself, picking up my cross every day, and following Jesus. I’ve learned that I can’t quit this horrible addiction by myself — but with God, I can do all things. I’ve read through the Bible three times this year, and it has become my energy and refuge.
I especially love James 4:7 — “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” That’s what I’m doing, submitting my life to God and resisting the devil.
This Thanksgiving, I’ve found a new family to celebrate with. The people at Union Rescue Mission have truly given me a helping hand — spiritually, emotionally, and physically. They have loved and cared for me like my own flesh and blood — they have been the presence of Christ to me.
Thanks to Union Rescue Mission, I know I will make it this time. I am a grateful man.
When I think of Thanksgiving, I think about my childhood in Adel, Iowa, when all my favorite aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather for a wonderful meal and a day full of fun and football — it was a day of being surrounded by family who loved me.
It’s one of the great tragedies among people who live on the streets. The biggest common denominator is that most have lost connections with their family. Many lost their families when they were children through death or divorce. Others burned bridges to their family through drugs, crime, and addiction. But whatever the reason, once that love and family is gone, when you’re alone in the world, you don’t have much of a shot.
That’s why Union Rescue Mission does more than just offer a great meal to the folks on Skid Row every Thanksgiving. With your generous support, we work hard to create a day of hugs, smiles, fun, games, and welcoming love — the same welcoming love I enjoyed as a kid. Many who join us that day find a new family here. The truth is, when we welcome people into our home — maybe they’ll find their own way back home
Andy Bales, CEO