Ron Laments Years Of Missed Opportunities

Despite growing up without a father, and moving around often with his mom, Ron had opportunities to excel in life. “I started playing baseball, and scouts were watching me in high school,” he said. “But I just went down the wrong road. I became an alcoholic at a young age.”

Ron dropped out of high school his junior year. “Later, I had the chance to go into the Navy, but I blew that too,” Ron said. “When you’re younger you just think, ‘OK, what’s the next opportunity?’ But now I’m 51 … I realize I don’t have unlimited opportunities.”

Ron got into the roofing trade and started his own business when he was 23. A couple years later though, a physical altercation resulted in a five-year prison stay. “That changed my life. I found God there. People say I just turned to him because I was weak, but it was actually my strength. He protected me.”

But when Ron was released, he went back to drinking. “I put the bible down, and stopped going to church. I basically just walked away from God. Years started just passing by. I basically just drank everything away. Not just my work, but it started to put distance between me and my family.”

Ron hasn’t seen his mom in 13 years, although they do keep in touch on the phone now, and he hopes to see her after he graduates. “She has 20 years sober now,” he said. “She’s my role model.”

Ron has been in Santa Barbara for the last four years. “I found myself, for the first time, being totally homeless on the streets. I had nothing. I guess it’s what people talk about, hitting rock bottom. I was physically, mentally, and spiritually stripped.”

Ron made a call to his mother. “She was crying—I’d never heard her cry like that before,” he said. “She asked me, ‘How are you surviving?’ I just knew something had to change.”

“God was telling me there are tools I needed to acquire at the Mission that I wasn’t going to find stumbling around the streets. This time I knew what I had to do. And I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be at the Mission. I wanted to get the help I knew they could give me.”

Ron, now several months into the program, is feeling grateful. “I thank God, I thank the donors, the volunteers, the staff… This place, it’s amazing. I still can’t figure out how they do it. People lose hope because they think no one cares. People do care out there.”