“I started doing drugs in my late teens and through my thirties. So much of my life was taken away by drugs. But I don’t feel lost anymore.” - John

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When John became homeless, he knew he didn’t want to sleep in an alley, that’s why he came to the Mission for help. “It’s dangerous sleeping on the street,” he says. “Cars could hit you or run you over. You could get mugged, or the freezing cold might get you.”

If he wasn’t able to make it to the Mission’s shelter at night, he would find a parking garage, curl up on a piece of cardboard and tuck his hands inside his thin sweater, clinging to what little warmth he could find overnight. The next morning, he’d drink and do drugs to hopelessly pass the time, only to repeat it all again day after day. But he knew this wasn’t the life he wanted. John grew up in a home where alcohol abuse was prevalent, and his father was violent.

When he was just a teenager, he experimented with marijuana for the first time, and for the next 20 years, he was in and out of jail regularly. In his late twenties, he picked up a Bible in jail and began to read. Soon he was praying and studying the Bible eagerly. “I started to love what was right and not being in trouble,” he says. “I read through my criminal record and it turned my stomach. I couldn’t believe the things I did to get drugs.”

After he got out of jail, he lived with his cousin and did well for the next four years by going to church and studying God’s Word while working and staying out of trouble. Eventually, his cousin moved away, and John had to live with his mother and her boyfriend. But he was not on their lease, and the landlord threatened to evict them all when he discovered he was living there.

This time, John had nowhere to go.

“I walked all the way over to the Mission,” he says, describing how he relied on the Mission for shelter and meals. But being homeless brought John closer to his former lifestyle, and despite his better judgment, he found a drug dealer on the street and relapsed into his drug and alcohol addictions.

"Drugs and alcohol have taken so much of my life away from me,” John says. One day, a stranger approached John while he was at the 16th Street Mall. John was already intoxicated, and the stranger promised to give him more drugs in exchange for his help. “I was not smart about saying no, and I wasn’t in my right mind because of the drugs,” John describes. They ended up breaking into a shed behind a bar trying to steal snacks to sell on the street. “A security guard caught us, and I couldn’t climb the fence fast enough,” he says. “They let me go, but two weeks later, I was arrested and spent nine months in jail.”

After he was released, he came to the Mission on probation. But trust didn’t come easy to John, so he left the Mission and returned to a drug-ridden lifestyle. Since that was a violation of his probation, he was sent back to jail for another nine months. After serving his sentence, he came back to the Mission. Now he’s on probation, and this time he says he’s done with his old life. “I don’t feel lost anymore,” he says. “I’m nothing like I was before. The Mission has helped me through the spiritual focus they have here.”

If his probation officer agrees, John would like to join the New Life Program, but for now, he’s taking advantage of the Mission’s Next Step services which offer a bed, basic case management, special classes, and Bible studies while participants volunteer at the Mission. He says he already learned so much at the Mission, and he’s excited to take the next step to improve his life. “I didn’t know how to cook before I came here, but now I can, and staying in touch with the Bible studies has helped,” he says. “It’s exactly what I want to do— work and study the Bible.”

Emergency services like shelter, meals, laundry, and more are an open door into the lives of guests like John. By meeting these basic needs, we’re able to build relationships with people experiencing homelessness and encourage and direct them toward long-term solutions like our New Life Program and STAR Transitional Program

Thank you for helping us reach out to our neighbors in need. We couldn’t do this without you.