Ernie Sees Joy in His Journey
Ernie comes to work at Victor Valley Super Thrift with a smile on his face—every day.
“We start every morning with a prayer, all of us,” Ernie said. “I love it here because customers come up to me and ask me to pray for them—I love to pray for people. It’s hard because you meet people who are so brokenhearted, but they always come back, and they are OK, and they thank us.”
Ernie used to be a shopper, but was hopeful that he would get a job at the store. “I love the work they do and what they represent.” Ernie did some research and found that proceeds from the store went toward programs available to people all over the Valley. That meant something to him, because, as Ernie explains, he was once desperately in need of help.
“I was on the streets for a spell. It started as kind of like an adventure when I was young. Every morning, I would drive to work and see my friends hanging out on the street and drinking,” Ernie said. “I thought, ‘I want to do that. I want to hang out and just have a good time.’”
Ernie was drinking, doing drugs, and was homeless. “After two years of running around, it wasn’t fun anymore. I remember it was so cold, I would search for newspapers to wrap around my feet. Sometimes there wasn’t food for days. I would wander around looking for fruit trees or dig through trashcans.”
Ernie was also hit by a car—twice. “I was so high, I would just cross the street. One time was serious. I almost didn’t make it. …. Eventually I just thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I need help, God.’”
Soon after, Ernie was sleeping in a park when a pastor approached him and asked to pray with him. By the end of the night, he was in a warm bed. He completed a recovery program and has been sober since—that was in 1989.
“I love to talk to the men in the program here, hear their stories and where they came from,” Ernie said. “I can truly understand their struggles because of what I went through. … When you fall, you have to brush off your knees and get up. Trust that God has a plan.”
After nearly 30 years sober and four years working at the store, Ernie said he is grateful for his journey. “People ask me why I’m always smiling,” Ernie said with a laugh. “I say, ‘Remember where I was at years ago, when I was on the ground?’ I fell so many times, but finally I just said, ‘I need you, God.’ Now I’m happy and joyful because of everything he’s done in my life.”