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Gilbert Breaks Cycle, Is No Longer Content With Life On The Streets


Before coming to the mission, Gilbert had been living on the streets for four years. He had spent most of his life staying with family members, and eventually, he had nowhere to go. “I felt like I didn’t do anything to put myself in this situation, but I still wanted to get myself out of it,” Gilbert said. “I was too stubborn to ask for help.”

Gilbert grew up in Los Angeles and struggled in school due to a learning disability. “I would do all of this work, and put all my effort into it, and it never seemed to matter,” Gilbert said. “I never did well, and it made me want to hang out more with the bad kids.”

Gilbert moved around often, staying with grandparents and other relatives. “I was trying to get a better life, and get into a better area,” he said. “You get to know people, get into stuff, and it’s hard, when you don’t want to live that way anymore, to get away from it. It’s hard to get away from temptation.”

While Gilbert found side jobs here and there, it wasn’t enough for him to afford a place on his own. “Some of my family was selling drugs, and I did here and there to make some money, but I didn’t want to get caught up in all that,” he said. “I felt like my family didn’t want me around unless they could benefit from me.”

Once on the streets, Gilbert settled into a new life. “I became content with it,” he said. “I had my tent spot, and I was going to work, which for me was collecting bottles and cans. But it started to get old. I started seeing people dying, doing drugs, disappearing. Things started looking worse and worse for me.”

Gilbert said it was hard to suppress his stubborn streak. “I should’ve surrendered earlier,” he said. “My way wasn’t working.” He’s happy to be at the mission now. “I’m on the right track now. This program has really given me the opportunity to get closer to the Lord.”

Gilbert expects to complete the program in February. “It really works the way they do it here,” he said. “I’ve been at programs where you may complete them, and then maybe, just maybe, they’ll help you get a job. Here, they encourage you, give you opportunities. I’ve seen other guys graduate, get better, and get jobs right away. They make you feel loved here, and welcome, and that they really want to help you.

“You see a lot of bad out there,” Gilbert added. “I just want to live a good life: find a job, get married, start a family—just be happy. That’s what I think everybody wants. Eventually I know that it can happen. I just need to be on the path that God wants me on and live the way he wants me to live.”

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