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Ernie Finds His Calling At The Mission

Ernie Avila, portrait

You might remember Ernie. He was on his third stay at the mission and nearing graduation when we shared his story in March of last year. He not only graduated the Life Recovery Program, but he also completed the mission’s transitional living program and is currently serving as the house manager at the mission.

Ernie has overcome a difficult past. “I’ve been in gangs, gotten into trouble” he said. After his wife divorced him, he turned to alcohol to numb the pain. “I was just medicating myself to deal with it. I just didn’t want to do anything anymore. I lost hope.”

Ernie bounced around from place to place, in and out of recovery programs, would get sober for a while, but then fall back into his addiction. “My daughter was worried about me. She said, ‘Dad, you need to go back to the rescue mission.’ She didn’t want to see me keep drinking.”

Ernie’s granddaughter overheard the conversation, and the 14-year-old was forceful with her words. “She got mad,” Ernie said. “She told me, ‘Get back there, Papa.’ So I did. I knew it was time. I just had this feeling, if I would’ve kept on, who knows what would’ve happened.” Ernie recalls.

Today, Ernie is filled with gratitude. “If I never found out about this place, I don’t know where I would be.” Ernie’s granddaughter is 16 years old now. “She is growing up so fast. She comes and visits me. She sees what I’m doing and how far I’ve come. My family is happy.”

Ernie’s early days of racing motorcycles and BMX finally caught up with him. After multiple crashes, Ernie’s ankle was causing him more pain as he got older, eventually requiring surgery. He has been unable to work for five months during his recovery and is anxious to get back to doing what he enjoys the most – helping the men in recovery at the mission succeed.

Ernie has been sober for two years now. “Yeah, it took me a few times, but this is it. I talk to the guys, let them know, ‘I’ve been there and now I’m doing great. I’m still with the Lord. Just listen to him, and he’ll guide you.”’

As the mission’s house manager, Ernie is firm but fair. “I’m strict on the rules here. They respect me and I give them a lot of respect. I tell them, I’m here for you guys.” Ernie had an opportunity to go back to work for his former landscaping boss after his graduation, but he has found his calling right here at the mission.

Ernie promised his granddaughter when he came to the mission “Next time you see me; I’m going to be a whole different Papa.” He has kept his promise and his family is amazed by the change they see in him. Your faithful support of the mission is changing lives like Ernie’s for good.

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