John wants to ‘let others know there is hope’

Now in his 60s, John is finally getting help for an addiction that he’s struggled with all of his life. After three marriages—all ending due to his drinking—and a recent stint in jail, he feels strong in his sobriety and commitment to God.

“I don’t regret anything,” he said. “It helped me to get to the place I am now.” And the advice he offers up: “Never give up on yourself.”

John is from Pomona and had a “good upbringing,” he said. “I remember as a kid I would get like 15 gifts under the tree during Christmastime.”

While in high school, John was in a band club. “We would listen to rock music and rock out while smoking pot,” he said. “I had long hair, but we weren’t hippies. We were more rebels.”

John’s dad died in the 80s. His sister lives in San Diego and his brother passed in 2016. “He walked to the store at 11 p.m. to get dog food,” John said. “He came back home and had a heart attack. He was 75. My mom died six months later.”

John has drank and smoked marijuana for most of his life. He drank heavily in his 20s and 30s. “I kind of slowed down because my taste buds changed and I lost the desire to drink,” he said. He also spent time on meth. “I didn’t like the way I looked on it,” he said. “Everyone knew I was on it. I acted up when I would smoke it. It’s a very dangerous drug.”

John acquired “quite a few” DUIs, he said. And a little over a year ago, he got into an argument with his roommate that turned physical. “I went to jail for 15 months,” he said. “When I got out, I was living in hotel after hotel, paying $400 a week. I got put on probation, and when I went to (the probation office), they handed me a packet with different phone numbers for shelters. A lot of phone numbers were disconnected because of COVID. But I knew of the men’s program because I use to shop at the thrift store in Hesperia.”

John called John Schmidt, the program director. “I was expecting to pay money to get into this program, but he told me it was a free program paid for by donations,” he said. “When I was in jail I would attend Bible studies. I would pray that I would get a fresh start once I was released. I prayed that I would have a little money in the bank and that Jesus would guide me along the way. He led me to the men’s home and it’s been a blessing.”

During his second marriage, John attended a Baptist church with his wife. “But I never really surrendered to Jesus until I was in jail,” he said. “Now I feel like I owe Jesus everything. He died for my sins. This program gets to the heart of the matter and that’s what I love about it.”

John is nearing graduation after almost 10 months in the program. He has COPD from smoking, so he isn’t able to do a lot physically. But he volunteers at the Mission, answering phones and helping in the outreach programs.  “I enjoy working with people and helping people,” he said. “When I get calls from people with nowhere to turn, I tell them about the Mission and our program. I let them know that there is hope.”

John goes to church in Victorville and is planning for his future, first in the transitional living house, and then in Hesperia, where he plans to live. He is planning to buy a car thanks to the savings he’s acquired while being in the program and will get off probation in April. “I want to have a car so I can continue to (volunteer) at the Mission,” he said. “It’s been a blessing to me.”