When Nick was 10 years old, his brother died after a night of extreme alcohol and cocaine use. Two years later, his mother, a lifelong heroin addict, died from congestive heart failure, and complications from hepatitis C and diabetes. “I lost so much of my family at an early age,” he said. “My father was an abusive alcoholic. I wasn’t getting any attention at home and I wanted that. I turned to the streets and to the gangs.”
Nick remembers when he was in elementary school, and he’d watch the local gang members play handball through the fence. “They were always together, and they seemed happy. I’d do anything to get noticed by them, and to fit in and get their approval. I’d fetch the handball. I’d repeat the ‘cool words’ they were saying.”
Nick said he started dressing differently and shaved his head. At 11, he had already tried marijuana and was sneaking beers from his dad. “The cops had always been at my house. I’d always been around drugs and guns and violence and partying. It was just an everyday thing.”
After his beloved grandmother passed away, Nick hit rock bottom. “Everything just hit me,” he said. “I got to a point where it overtook me. I didn’t have God in my life and
I didn’t want him. I couldn’t understand how he could let things like that happen to me. I was left with nobody.
“I ended up doing a lot of time because of my gang involvement,” added Nick, who has spent half of his 32 years in jail. And the jail time just increased his hopelessness. “No one was there for me on the outside, telling me they loved me, hoping I would get out. I just settled on making that my new life. I didn’t care if I got a life sentence while I was in there. I was always looking for a reason to lash out.”
When Nick found out he was expecting a daughter, he entered a program at Central Coast Rescue Mission. He started building a relationship with God and graduated. But when he and his girlfriend broke up, he relapsed. “I always go back to my comfort zone,” Nick said. “I started doing drugs again. After more trouble with the law, Nick found himself in jail once again. “When I finally woke up after being on so many drugs, I just cried in that shower, alone, by myself. Something told me in my heart to call on the Lord, so I did. … By the grace and mercy of God, I got to come to this place.”
During his time at the Mission, Nick has graduated from the Malachi Dads group, focusing on being a better father, and leading his child to Christ. “I know cutting all ties with everyone, and really coming in broken this time, it’s helped me so much,” Nick said. “Everything I’ve been through, it broke me. But now, I’m building a relationship with my 5 year old. She’s happy and she’s stable, and I’m on the right road to getting her in a place with me.”