They May Have Broken His Bones But They Could Not Break His Spirit!
LaDerian fell on hard times. He lost his job and was forced to live on the streets. He met up with the wrong people and started using drugs. One night, he wrote a letter to God asking for a way off the streets.
A few days later, he was beat up from some “not so good” friends. With a shattered fore-arm, caused by a blow from a metal shovel, he was taken to Kaiser Hospital Woodland Hills. There, he learned about Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission and enrolled in the John E. White House of Hope Men’s Recovery Program.
“This is my second chance at life,” says LaDarian. “God heard my cry and brought me to Hope of the Valley so I could turn my life around. My arm healed and now God is healing my heart!”
His jovial smile may fool you, but Raymond Sosa has seen his share of dark days. When he was 12 years old, he was running the streets of Los Angeles with contempt for the law and those who enforce it. Before he was thirteen, he was incarcerated for possessing a gun and making threats. At 16, he landed in the California Youth Authority. He was becoming institutionalized, more familiar with life behind bars than freedom on the streets.
Between the ages of 18 and 25, he had 9 parole violations. His life was unmanageable, riddled with drug addiction and defiance towards authority. As a last ditch effort, the courts sent him to a Rehabilitation Facility. Within three days of his arrival, the Rehab closed its doors for lack of funding. Raymond walked to the Mission and asked if we could help him. Immediately, we enrolled him in the John. E. White House of Hope.
Raymond’s life began to radically change. “I didn’t come here by accident…everything about my life has changed…the way I think, the way I treat others, and most importantly, my relationship with God,” says Raymond.
Recently, Raymond had to stand before the Superior Court Judge for a progress report. As letters of recommendation were read and the House Manager validated his changed life, the Judge began to cry and the District Attorney began to applaud. A lost soul had been rescued and hopelessness was replaced by hope.
Abandoned by his father and abused by his mother, Jesse experienced life’s struggles as a child. Oftentimes, his mother would beat him, tie him up, and throw him in a closet. He would see his dad once a year at Christmas, for a few minutes when he would give Jesse a little spending money.
“I remember crying a lot as a child. I felt so abandoned and alone. I just wanted someone to love me,” says Jesse.
With a mother unwilling to support him, he started working for a caterer while in Jr. High School. In High School, he joined the Job Core and started collecting multiple diplomas in the construction trades. His newly developed skills made it easy to land good jobs.
Putting his childhood behind him, Jesse was now married with three children of his own, working for the City of Los Angeles as a Load Operator. Life was good until the morning he received a phone call from one of sons telling him that every day when he left for work, the neighbor would come over and he and mommy would lock the door to the bedroom.
In a fit of rage, Jesse left his skip loader and drove home with a baseball bat in his hand. He walked in the house and saw what he feared. Outraged, he beat the other man, almost killing him.
That event changed his life. His wife left him and took the kids. He lost his job with the City of Los Angeles and served time for his crime. Upon release from prison, with a criminal record, work was hard to come by. He became depressed and started drinking, nearly a 1/5 of Jack Daniels a day. He became homeless, living on the side of the freeway in Granada Hills.
Within a 24-hour period, he had two random people ask if he was homeless and told him to call Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission. Feeling hopeless and overwhelmed, he felt it was a sign from God. He called the number to the Mission and was immediately accepted into the John E. White House of Hope where his new life began.
It has now been six months. Jesse is well on the road to recovery. He utilizes his construction skills to help around the Mission. Jessie comments, “From day one, I felt loved at the Mission, and more importantly, I fell in love with God. I thank God every day for Hope of the Valley and the second chance they have given me.”
His parents were never home. His “dysfunctional” upbringing was filled with abuse, drugs, neglect and crime. At age 15, convicted of armed robbery, he received a 12-year sentence. Released in his 20’s, he pursued a life of crime to support his drug habit (Heroin, Cocaine, Meth and Acid). Once again arrested and convicted, he spent 22 years in and out of the state penitentiary. Recently released, he was living homeless on the streets of North Hollywood.
Desperate for help, Scott walked into the Mission feeling defeated and dejected. Accepted into the John E. White House of Hope, his new life began. “It is amazing. I am actually living a normal life with normal people. I am making real friends for the first time in my life,” says Scott. “God is changing my life and I feel alive. Only God could change a man like me…I am so thankful!”
David was born in Sun Valley. As an adolescent, he got in trouble with the law and spent his teen years in corrective institutions. At 18, he was emancipated. Soon he got married, had three children and a good job driving trucks for the Teamsters Union.
Nearly 16 years later, his world began to unravel. He turned to drugs and alcohol to soothe his pain. Finding himself addicted to drugs, homeless and his life spinning out of control, he showed up to one of the Rescue Mission’s Outreaches. He went to a Mission staff member and said, “I need help or I will probably die on the streets.”
The Mission accepted him into the John E. White House of Hope Men’s Program. Today, David is drug-free, sober minded, growing in his faith and preparing to live the remainder of his life clean and sober. “I am so thankful for this Mission. You are giving me the tools I need to succeed in life. You gave me hope when I was at rock bottom and ready to end my life,” says David. “Thank you for loving and caring about me when I did not love or care about myself.”
John Wilson Jr. is the grandson of the very first batman, Lewis Wilson. Whereas the original Batman may have been saving lives on the big screen, John needed some saving of his own.
John’s family life while growing up was not the best. He remembers his parents regularly fighting. At ten, he was sent to boarding school which produced anger and resentment in his heart. He did not return home until he was 18 years old. When he did return home, his parents had parted ways and he ended up living on the streets in a motor home with his father.
The anger in his heart and his life on the streets assisted John in making some poor decisions that left him estranged from family and financially broke. At his low point, he found Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission. The Mission took him in, providing shelter, counseling, meals, showers and most of all, hope.
“Before, I would hear about bad things and didn’t want that path for my life. Now I have experienced some really bad things. Now I know for sure I want a better life. I am so thankful that the Mission has opened my eyes and taken me under their wings. Now I want to live up to the achievements of my grandfather and make him proud!” says John, who is now part of the Mission’s Fresh Start program.
Giving Plasma 2x per Week Keeps him Going
Warren is one of the hundreds of homeless men we serve each week. He is not a drug addict or alcoholic. He has spent most of his adult life driving trucks for a living, but currently he is unemployed, looking for work and sleeping in his car each night. He is not unemployed for lack of effort. Each day he is filling out applications. “There are over 100 applicants for every job I am pursuing,” says Warren.
Asked how he is making it from day to day, he says, “I keep trying to land a job, but in the meantime, I donate plasma two times per week. I get paid $30.00 each time. Those meager funds put gas in my car so I can keep looking for work.”
Like so many of the nearly 7,000 homeless in the greater Los Angeles area, Warren is incredibly thankful for Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission. “I am so grateful to the Mission. They feed me physically and spiritually and give me hope to keep pressing on,” says Warren. If you have potential employment for Warren or other drug-free homeless people, call the Mission today at 818.392.0020.
She has not always been this way…homeless, living in her motor home, and barely surviving from funds received from Social Security and recycling fees. At one time, Joyce was a homeowner in Van Nuys. She worked as a nurse for many years, caring for children. Then, she became sick with ovarian cancer. In the year that followed, she had surgery, lost her savings, her home, her job, and other elements of her health. She became homeless, destitute, and desperate.
“It was horrible,” Joyce says. “I used to cook meals for the homeless and then I became one of them. It has been a terrible experience. I am embarrassed to say, but there have been times I have had to pick my meal out of dumpsters behind restaurants and markets. I am not proud of it, but I refuse to steal from others.”
When asked about her thoughts regarding the Rescue Mission she says, “I love Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission. You are like family to me. You truly care about me and others trying to get off the streets by providing showers, clothing, food and most importantly love….THANK YOU. You are always giving and never asking for anything in return. You are wonderful group of people.”