Ricardo was a devoted son and a hard worker, committed to helping care for his struggling family. But opportunities were limited in their small hometown, so when he was 18, he moved to Los Angeles. “I wanted to provide for my family, to better their lives,” he says.
Luis grew up in a world of addiction and neglect, with no guidance or sense of purpose. “My mother was an alcoholic, and my dad left when I was young,” he says. “I didn’t have any structure in my life or good role models to follow.”
Oswaldo and Linda were a hard-working, responsible couple who’d created a loving and stable home for their five children. Then their world came crashing down around them. Oswaldo lost his job and, while he was looking for work, the family was evicted, though they were current on their rent. “The manager threw us out on the street. We left a lot of personal things behind,” Oswaldo says. “We took it very hard.”
“The Mission taught us not to give up.”
When she was a little girl, Teresa was very close to her mother. But when she was 12, her parents’ marriage fell apart and her mom stole away in the middle of the night. “I was a mommy’s girl so I was really hurt.”
Charles was devastated when he lost his mom to alcoholism… but even that wouldn’t be the wake-up call he needed to find help for his own addiction.
After Charles’ mom passed away, his dad got cancer. Charles became his full-time, live-in caregiver. As his dad started to get better, Charles planned to live on his own again.
Fred came home from work and had a few drinks like he’d done every day since he was 19, but the effects of his drinking had been changing since he hit midlife. There was something terribly wrong and he knew it.
“When I was younger, I could get up the next morning without a hangover. I was functioning fine,” he says. “But over time, it got harder and harder. When I woke up, I’d be shaking so badly I’d have to have a pint of vodka. Then I was good until the liquor store opened at 8.”
“Addiction comes when you’re not seeing it and it’ll run you down like a monster,” Darryll says.
He should know. He had a wonderful family, a lucrative job, and a lovely home, but partying with his co-workers set him in the path of that monster. “We thought we were just having fun, but it went to another level for me,” Darryll says. “It started out slow, but my drinking and drug use progressed.”
“My father was a heroin addict and my mother was a meth addict,” Nick says.
“That was my life growing up.”
Nick began drinking and smoking marijuana in grade school and, by the time he was 14, he was using Vicodin.
“I thought it healed my pain, but it got to a point where I couldn’t take enough pills to feel better,” he says. “Then I found heroin and my life spiraled out of control. I was 17.”
Josie and her 16-year-old son came here from El Paso because work was scarce. “I had a part-time job there, but I couldn’t meet the rent,” she says. “I had a friend who invited us to come out here and stay, but her place was overcrowded so we had to move.”
Imagine a life like Gina’s: happily married, raising three daughters, working a job she enjoyed. Then imagine no longer being able to see that life… or anything, actually. That’s what happened when Gina suddenly lost her eyesight.
Gina was blinded by disease. After many doctor appointments, she was diagnosed with a rare brain disease that affects 1 in 1,000 people.
A small car may make a temporary shelter, but it doesn’t make a home.
As a mother of two, Tascolony had more than just herself to think about when tough times hit.
She was holding down a job and trying to make ends meet when her lease was suddenly terminated. The only option she and her children had was to live in their car.
Mark had done a lot of traveling before he ended up here at the Mission.
He’s been places he never wants to be again. Like Skid Row in downtown LA. Or the woods around Big Sur where he had to watch out for bears and cougars. Or the drug-infested homeless areas of San Jose and Santa Cruz.
Evelyn was collecting social security benefits and operating a produce truck to support herself and three of her children. Then the unthinkable happened. “I was trying to make the extra money we needed for food and laundry and to pay the bills,” she says. “But since I was self-employed, the IRS thought I was making more money than I was claiming. So they cut my benefits and I ended up losing my apartment.”
Jeff had once struggled with drugs and alcohol, but through a Christ-centered program, he got clean and sober. He’d maintained his sobriety for 20 years – then, he lost his job.
“I was getting unemployment, looking for work, and had a lot of extra time on my hands. I started drinking again,” he says. “I ended up homeless, living in a tent up in Topanga Canyon for nearly a year.”
Before he began using drugs, Dan was “doing great.” He was married with two young children, had his own home and a business.
Then, he started using cocaine and began living “two separate lives.” Eventually, he was using every day. When the cocaine didn’t give him the high he wanted, he switched to meth. And that’s when “the wheels fell off.”
Despite a previous addiction to heroin, Gino was doing well. “I had a job and a truck and a place to live. Then, I got laid off, lost my place and my truck was repossessed. After that, I just didn’t care anymore and started getting high again.”
Shay was in love. But love didn’t turn out how she expected, and instead involved abuse, heartache, pain and darkness. She decided to start over.
“I wasn’t afraid of being on my own with my two kids and no help at all,” she says. “But we didn’t have anything – no food and no resources.”