After Years of Homelessness, Doug Commits to Changing His Life

For 16 years, Doug hasn’t had a place to call home. He’s been homeless, going from town to town, before settling in the Ventura Riverbed for the last five years. “I’ve been doing the wrong thing with drugs, with everything in my life, for the last 30 years,” he said. “I’m just tired of living that lifestyle. I needed help to change my life.”

Doug, 48, has spent his years doing time for drug charges and taking odd jobs to survive. “I’ve had nothing stable, nothing secure,” he said. “I’ve made a mess with court stuff, relationships. That’s what you attract because you’re on that level. It’s all chaos, turmoil, dysfunction—I want to get rid of all that. My mind has been so cloudy for so long. I just don’t want to live like that anymore. It’s so much easier for me now to get up and do what I need to do without that bondage of being on drugs.”

Doug came to the Mission for a meal, and while he was there, someone talked to him about the program. He came in, but left after 10 days. “When you’re out there on the streets, you get comfortable—I know that’s awful to say,” Doug said. “But I could go to the riverbed and I feel like that’s the safest spot in the world for me. Nobody is going to go down there because they don’t want to go down there. And everyone there has the same issues: they are all either on drugs or have family issues.”

But two weeks later, Doug returned to the Mission. “Obviously the way I was doing my life wasn’t working. That’s why I came here, so they can guide me. I need the structure to get my life together. Being able to have my own spot, my own little bed, my own little closet—it’s a lot. I love this place. I’m glad I went through all that I did to get to where I’m at. I appreciate everything I have, and I don’t take anything for granted.”

Doug has been active in reaching out to others in need. “We go out in the community and talk to the homeless. I tell them, ‘Look, this is what we can do for you. We have a shelter, we have food, clothing.’ I know everything to say to them because I was just like that for 16 years.”

Doug said he’s learned a lot about God while in the program. “I have to put him first and foremost, before anything, and everything else will fall into place. He’s the one who is going to provide for me.”

After graduation, Doug plans to intern at the Mission, and go to school for his truck driving license. “The years I have left, I want to live a good clean life, a healthy life. I’ve totally submitted my life to Jesus Christ. I’m not here to sugarcoat anything. I’ve had a really rough time in my past. And this place has saved my life.”