Miguel remembers his uncles blowing marijuana smoke in his face when he was as young as 4. Desarae’s parents were only 15 when she was born. They struggled with their own addictions.
Growing up around drugs, both Miguel and Desarae easily fell into the lifestyle.
They were each deep in their addictions when they met. Over the course of 14 years, they became parents, even as they struggled to find stability.
One day, Miguel was driving when he was pulled over by the police. He had drugs — and his son — in the car. Desarae had to come and get their son.
As for Miguel, he was handcuffed and taken away. But what he remembers is, “They took my son away from me. I didn’t know where he was. It devastated me.”
At this time, Desarae was homeless, living in the riverbed. Their son lived with his grandma, so he would be safe.
“We had to shower in public restrooms,” she remembers. “We lived in tents in the riverbed.”
This was rock bottom for Desarae. “I finally broke down,” she says. “I didn’t want my son to grow up hating me…I wanted to be a normal family.”
Desarae got into a three-month program. Then she interviewed at Orange County Rescue Mission.
When Miguel got out of jail, Desarae told him what was happening. Soon, the whole family was at the Village of Hope.
Today, both Miguel and Desarae are clean and thankful to be together as a family. While at the Mission, they also welcomed a baby girl.
Desarae has worked hard, even while pregnant, learning how to be a good mom for their son and baby daughter.
“I’ve become someone dependable today,” Miguel says. “We both struggled through school. We both got our GEDs since we’ve been here. We’ve accomplished a lot of goals.”
But what Miguel enjoys most is his job doing outreach. He goes to shelters and camps with the team, and he loves praying with people…because it was God who changed his life.
“Without God, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today,” he shares. “He allows me to be a good husband and father.”
Desarae remembers what it was like to be homeless and is grateful for the smallest things. “When people come from having nothing, every little thing counts,” she says. “A piece of clothing. A bottle of shampoo…”
Miguel and Desarae now have so much hope for the future.
“My education was the biggest thing,” Desarae shares. “Now, I’m trying to further my education and get into school for medical assisting.”
At the Mission, Miguel has found role models for the kind of man he wants to become.
Speaking about a special case manager, Miguel says, “When I first came in, he would always tell me, ‘You’re not in the yard anymore, homeboy. You’re not in prison no more. You gotta stop.’ He got me thinking differently. He got me into the Word. He’s had a rough past like myself. I really connected with him. I saw him genuinely care for me when he had no reason to.”
To the donors, Miguel says, “Thank you for all the support. It’s a tough program, but it’s worth it.”
Your generosity helps families, like Miguel and Desarae’s, find their way out of darkness to begin a new life of hope. Thank you for your support!