Graduate Rebounds From Years on the Streets
Justin recalls the day he walked into the mission last July: “I had no shirt, no shoes and ripped pants. I was filthy and really sunburned from just walking around looking for the place. I smelled, and I was embarrassed. They were really kind and they listened to me. I came in looking for help and they gave it to me.”
Justin had been in jail for two weeks, stemming from a domestic argument he had with a man he had been staying with. When he got out of jail in the High Desert, he was far from the car he had called home for the prior few years. “It was like living in a tunnel with no light at the end,” Justin said. “It was hopeless.”
Justin grew up in Rialto with his twin sister, a hardworking father, and a sick mother. His parents divorced when he was a teenager. “My mom has been sick my whole life,” Justin said. “She’s been in and out of the hospital, and we had to stay at people’s houses for months at a time when we were kids while my dad went to work. We behaved and did what we were told, but we just had to kind of go along for the ride. So when I got older and needed to start making decisions, without having any guidance or direction in my life, it was tough.”
Though Justin graduated near the top of his class, he had trouble retaining work when the economy dipped. “I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere,” he said. “I was discouraged. I didn’t have the resources, experience, or support I needed.”
Because of Justin’s mom’s medical issues, his family often struggled. “I wasn’t familiar with the internet. I got my first computer a month ago and, at 34, I’m just learning how to use it. We were raised very sheltered too, and my social skills were lacking. My dad was working all the time. The only thing we knew was that he worked really hard for us, but then he’d be worn out and didn’t have the capacity to deal with us. I would say he considered himself a provider, rather than being a father.
“The mission has provided resources and leadership that I’d been missing my whole life,” Justin said. “I felt like the last 10 years of my life I’ve been in this Bermuda Triangle of homelessness, toxic relationships and drug addiction. I just couldn’t get away from it. And now, I’m finally being relieved of it because of the network that’s been available to me to work with, to live with—that’s what’s restored me.”