Seven Years After Graduation, Anthony Reflects On His Restoration
Anthony grew up in San Dimas, but moved to Hesperia when he got older. He met his wife, and they bought a house there, but Anthony spent most of the year working as a machinist at a cannery in Alaska.
During some vacation time, Anthony came home to Hesperia where he got into trouble with the law. He got arrested for possession and being under the influence, but still tried to fly back to Alaska for work. “I was detained. Then my company found out, and I got fired. That’s when my life started taking a bad tumble,” he said. “From that point on,
I was mad. Instead of straightening up, I just leaned on drugs.”
Anthony became addicted to meth, going on a year-long binge. “It caused a lot of problems. I got arrested a few times that year after losing my job. I ended up going to jail for a year. I lost the house, and problems with my wife got worse. I was so lost. I was confused. My source of release was drugs. I buried myself in it.”
Anthony went to prison again, this time for two years. “I came out, and I tried doing good for a while. But whenever any stress came over me that I felt I couldn’t handle, it was automatic—back to drugs. My life was so bad. The more drugs, the more my life was chaos. Drugs were my hiding place. I ended up wrecking my life.”
Anthony and his wife divorced while he was in prison. “We had two kids,” he said. “My ex-wife was pulling for me. She let me talk to my boys. But I kept getting worse, and at one point she had to withdrawal everything. I totally understand that, and I don’t blame her in any way. Her doing that helped me realize how bad I was.”
Anthony went to the rescue mission seven years ago. He made a good friend there, Stanley. “We bonded,” Anthony said. “We spent a lot of time together reading the bible, praying, working out. It helped me a lot to partner with a good guy. It also helped that we worked—we were cooking food, serving meals. It instilled something in me. I saw other peoples’ lives, what was going on, and it encouraged me to want to be better, and to serve people, and help people, and see their needs.”
Anthony also credited the mission staff. “I knew they cared about me,” Anthony said. “They were concerned about my recovery and my life. There is a genuine love there.”
After graduating, Anthony moved into the mission’s transitional housing. “Being there helped me not to rush things,” he said. “It gave me a peace I needed to continue to do good, and the time to sort through my life, continue my recovery, and continue to be around men of God. I got a job at a church. It wasn’t a high-paying job, but it was where I needed to be. I was able to save money, get stable and walk out those doors and maintain what I gained at the mission. That was the key.”
Anthony has now reconnected with his family. “I never got my wife back, but we’re restored as a family,” said Anthony. “She calls and values my opinion about the boys. … Everything happened this way for a reason. Nothing compares to what I have now with my kids, and to be able to talk to my ex-wife as a friend.”
Anthony also has a 35-year-old daughter from an early relationship. “We’ve gotten really close. She battled breast cancer, and I was able to be there for her. To have my daughter respect me and talk to me, and be able to pray for her, and be there for her spiritually, it means everything.
“God has totally changed my life,” Anthony added. “He’s placed in me some values and has allowed me grow since I left the mission. I’m active in the church. Everything that collapsed has been full-steam functioning.”
Anthony has even taken his boys, now 16 and 18, to the shower program the mission runs. “They see a different side of life,” he said. “They ask questions, and it has an impact. I see the way they talk to (clients). They don’t see homelessness or brokenness. They treat them with no judgement, just wanting to serve them.”