Brandon Aims to Leave the Streets, Gangs, Drugs Behind for Good
At 32, Brandon has been on the streets for more than half of his life. He left his house for good at just 13. “My mom’s boyfriends used to beat me up, so I took off,” he said. “When I was 10, I got my head put through a wall. I didn’t want to be around that. So I left.”
Brandon’s older siblings had already left the house too, his sister when she was just 12. “They never came back. That’s what we had to do.” Brandon got involved with a gang and began using and selling drugs. “It was an easy living, especially when I was young. I stayed house to house or on the streets, wherever I needed to.”
For nearly 20 years, Brandon lived a dangerous life. He also spent time in jail intermittently, usually for check fraud or probation violations. He was once shot and stabbed in front of his house, his young daughter witnessing the attack by a rival gang.
Brandon first came to the mission last year, and stayed four months before leaving. “Things started getting hard, and instead of working it out, I just left. And really, it’s pretty easy. If you can’t do it here, how are you going to do it outside?”
Now back for more than three months, Brandon said he’s in a much better place. He’s been clean for six months. “It’s gotten hard at times, but I’m not giving up,” he said. “I’ve been calming my attitude down a lot. I grew up on the streets and I used to fight a lot. Now I’m learning how to communicate with people without getting mad, no matter what the situation.”
Growing closer to God has also helped his outlook. “I’m starting to read the bible, and study it. God is not an angry God. Anything that’s from anger is not from him. I didn’t know anything about God, but I’ve been studying and putting my time into that instead of putting it into stuff that’s going to destroy people, like drugs.
“I’ve dedicated so much time to doing wrong, I wonder what it would be like to change my life around, or at least be normal. I want that. I cut all people off. I don’t talk to anybody that I used to. I’m focused on this now. Nine months is so short. I don’t need to rush. It’s hard sometimes, but my life isn’t right yet. It’s best to just go slow, and do things the right way.”
Brandon is headed to barber school after he graduates. He also has plans to marry his fiancé next year. “Everyone in my family says it’s a miracle that I’m alive, that they didn’t think I’d make it to 16. I just want to change my life.”