Steve grew up in Santa Barbara in a loving home with two parents and two younger siblings. His father, however, was an alcoholic. “A lot of family on my dad’s side has issues with alcohol,” Steve said. “A lot of them are either in recovery, in active addiction, or have died because of it. My dad is eight years sober now, and my grandma is 12 years sober. It plays a big part in my family.”
Because of his addiction, Steve’s dad was around “physically, but not emotionally” when he was a kid, he said. “My mom had to work multiple jobs. I came home from school and had to take care of my siblings. I feel like at a very young age a lot of responsibility was placed on my shoulders.”
When Steve got to high school, he started experiencing some freedom. “I started going to parties, and that’s where I found drinking,” he said.
Steve was working full time and he got his own apartment. “It was a party scene, and that’s what my late teens and early 20s were about,” he said.
Steve finished school and kept working, eventually enrolling at Santa Barbara City College. “But drinking became my passion,” he said. “It started taking over my life. That was my priority. I was doing it all throughout the day, every chance I had, when I woke up, until
I went to bed.”
But Steve started noticing those around him were moving on. “The parties started ending for all those around me,” he said. “People were starting families, settling down, getting into their careers, and I was still holding on to that party scene, neglecting responsibilities. Along the road, I ended up hurting all my loved ones because of my lifestyle choices. Eventually, I ended up alone.
“It was a very dark time. And it led to a couple different attempts of recovery, and a couple different attempts at suicide. It was just a very dark road of self-destruction.”
Steve tried the mission’s program, but had a relapse after three months. “I had to leave for two weeks,” he said. “I thought (my family) would notice that I put a good effort and take me back with open arms. It wasn’t like that. It was very hard. But God has a perfect timing for everything. I realized how important this place was, not just for my recovery, but for my connection with God. When I returned, it was the first time someone didn’t bring me and drop me off. I came with my eyes opened, my heart opened, and through prayer, God kept pointing me here. I made my way back and I feel great.
“I’m doing things differently this time,” Steve added. “I’m putting my pride and my ego away. I’m surrendering, and asking God to guide my footsteps every day. I was talking to my mom on the phone and she said, ‘I hear something different in your voice this time.’ I teared up. I feel a sense of peace. I’m exactly where God wants me to be.”
Steve coordinates volunteers when they come to serve meals and helps out in the call center. “When I’m talking to people on the phone, I get to share with the donors that I’m in the program. I get to tell them that, because of their donations, I’m able to rebuild my connection with my family. It’s still a work in progress, and it’s going to be a long road, but I know with God that anything is possible. I’m just excited about what the future holds.”
Steve said he had a message for anyone considering coming to the mission: “God can heal anything,” he said. “I remember feeling like I didn’t deserve his love or his grace or his mercy. Now, I’m not in that dark, dark space anymore. Living in the light is a wonderful thing. It’s nice to be able to see.”