Alex reconnects with his son, makes plans for the future

Alex was raised in Santa Maria with his older brother and sister, and initially, both of his parents. “My mom ended up leaving my dad to pursue another relationship,” he said. “A year later my mom was found dead in a motel room. It’s a cold case—no one has ever been arrested in connection to her murder.”

Alex started to get in trouble with the law at 13. He got most of his education in juvenile hall and boys camps, but was released at 17, just in time to walk in his high school graduation. He had been using meth, but quit upon graduating.

“I was doing good staying sober for a while, but started smoking meth because of a relationship I was in,” he said. “I got hooked pretty bad and went downhill fast. I worked two jobs so that I could support my habit.” Alex thought that since he was working, it wasn’t a problem. But once he lost his job and his wife, he knew the addiction was serious. He battled it off and on. “I had periods of time where I would stay sober. Up to six years at a time I would be clean. Then boom—I would be using again. It was a repeating cycle.”

Alex got arrested for robbery in 2014. “I went to jail with a meth habit and ended up getting introduced to heroin. When I was paroled, things were the same. I was using and ended up going back to prison. I told myself, ‘I can’t keep living like this. You aren’t getting any younger and you have kids who love you.’”

Alex stayed sober through that prison stint, which was his second strike. “That was a big wake up call for me,” he said. “I got four years. I knew I didn’t want to get busted again and become a lifer.”

During the peak of COVID, Alex was in a cell by himself on a 24-hour lockdown. “I got a hold of a study bible and got right into it,” he said. “Before, I would read the Bible and I couldn’t comprehend one word of it, so I would get frustrated and discouraged. I figured it wasn’t for me because I couldn’t even read it and understand it. The study bible helped out. And this time I prayed for understanding.

“I had been a Christian before but I was just going through the motions and not really walking in faith. While in prison I also surrounded myself with other Christian men. We couldn’t gather because of the COVID rules, so we would make our own little prayer calls every morning at 7 a.m. I started to understand it more. That study bible was a great blessing to me. I still have it. It’s all beat up but I still read it. “

Alex said he knew he needed to get into a program when he got out of jail. His nephew had been at the Mission several years ago, and Alex had visited. “I saw that he was happy here,” he said. “I saw the atmosphere and the structure, and I saw my nephew clean up. I knew that this Mission could do that for me. In my heart I knew I wanted to be at this Mission.”

Alex said his time is going well so far. “The staff is very helpful,” he said. “They are keeping their word with everything here at the Mission. They got me enrolled into college. They are helping me prepare to live a productive life. They are even helping me get my welding certificate. The recovery program is solid and truthful. I couldn’t do this myself.”

Alex has a 15-year-old son who lives a few blocks from the Mission. On Saturdays he walks to the Mission to spend time with his dad. “He is my little sidekick,” Alex said. “We have a great relationship. While I was in jail I prayed that God would soften his mother’s heart and for her to be open to allowing me to have a relationship with my son. It’s a blessing.”

Alex is planning to enter the Transitional Living Program after graduation. He’d like to become a welder and is looking forward to “getting my life on track.”

“This program doesn’t ask anything of you. They just say, ‘Come and cleanup and be sober and get off the streets and we’ll take care of the rest.’ You don’t have to worry about rent or how you are going to eat. It’s almost unreal that this program is run on donations. It’s saving lives."