Bruce grew up in the ghetto. His mom was working, and his dad battled alcoholism, so Bruce was often left to himself.
He found a job after high school and saved enough money to buy a car. He aspired to be a driver for the disabled. But sadly, life took a turn for the worse. “I got involved with the wrong people,” he says. He fell victim to their negative influences, including alcohol abuse, and before he knew it, his dream was shattered. “I lost my car. I lost the respect from my family… everything.”
He ended up homeless. Bruce describes the streets as cold and tough: “Nobody really cares about nobody.” He had nothing and says he “wandered around for so long… looking for a way off of the street.”
That’s when Bruce says “blind faith” brought him to the Mission. He remembers how good it felt to be treated like a human being. “If it wasn’t for the Mission, we wouldn’t have any clothes, any place to wash up and at least feel clean,” he says.
Bruce has also seen God in a new light. “I wasn’t really a church person until I started coming to Hope of the Valley,” he says.
Describing the transformative power of the Mission, Bruce says, “So many people come in here lost… like walking zombies… It’s a real blessing that the Mission is here, especially with the support from the church and all the other people donating. Without them, there would be a lot more crime and homelessness happening.” And he adds, “I probably would’ve been living like an animal if it wasn’t for the Mission.”
Bruce is sober and focused on living each day at a time. “I’m trying to be of service in any way… Because the love you cast out returns to you tenfold.” With a heart of thanksgiving, he’s even come up with a slogan for the place that’s helped him so much: “Hope of the Valley: the greatest place in Van Nuys.”
To read the rest of the issue of Sharing Hope, click here.
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