When Bryce was 2 years old, he was adopted, and grew up in Ventura. “My parents were well off and gave me everything I ever wanted,” he said. Despite being active in sports, playing football, baseball and soccer, he got into drinking and drugs, and his parents kicked him out. “I graduated from high school when I was 17, and from there, I started doing my own thing,” he said.
Bryce became homeless, sleeping mostly on school roofs, and only occasionally staying on a friend’s couch. “I was on the streets,” he said. “It was scary at first, but you become accustomed to it. And the drugs and alcohol were what I used to cope with that.”
Life on the streets was hard, and when he was 18, Bryce’s dad encouraged him to try the Mission to get help. He was in the program for eight months, but after getting into the Air Force, Bryce left early and enlisted. He headed to boot camp in San Antonio, Texas, became a military policeman, and then deployed to Adana, Turkey. “I was there for eight months,” Bryce said. “I started drinking on the time I had off, and that led to drinking every day and not being able to do my job because I was hungover. Or I was fighting on my time off. My addiction led me to getting kicked out.”
Bryce was sent home, returning to Ventura when he was 19. He started getting into trouble, and was arrested for burglary and assault. He moved to Arizona for a bit, and later stayed with some friends in Sacramento. He spent time in jail, and when he got out, had no money and nowhere to go. On Christmas Eve, Bryce returned to the Mission.
“I felt like something was unfinished here,” Bryce said. “I knew it was a good program from being here before. I just need God in my life. I tried to do it my way, but my way didn’t work. I knew what they offered here and knew I wanted to come back.”
Bryce said he isn’t on speaking terms yet with his parents. “I’m trying to get that restoration while I’m here,” he said. “But I feel healthy and my faith is restored. When I was out there doing my thing, it was like I didn’t need God. Then I lost everything and then I would blame him. Now I know everything happens for a reason.”
The chaplains at the Mission have helped counsel Bryce, who is now 20. “Just being able to talk to them, and since they’ve known me before, has helped. They motivate me to keep going. I’m young and I have my whole life ahead of me, but at the same time, it can go by fast. That’s what they remind me.”