“I’m not going to let your donations go to waste.”-Tony

Tony readily admits he’s been in and out of trouble—and in and out of jail—for most of his 52 years of life.  But until last year, when he came to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, he didn’t know why.

A Santa Barbara native, Tony had come home to live with his mother, a few years earlier.  His addictions were completely out of control, and then, “I was the cause of her almost getting thrown out of where she was living.  I’d never taken any responsibility until then, but I had to straighten that problem out.  As a result of that, I had to leave the home, and I became instantly homeless.”

Out on the streets and in the grip of drugs and alcohol, Tony was helpless to protect himself from the violence that threatens the whole homeless community.  “I’d have blackouts and wake up cut up or beat up,” he remembers.  Every year, some of our homeless die from exposure, violence, and other dangers of the streets.  It looked like Tony would be next.

Then Tony got arrested, and seeing that jail had never helped him before, the courts sent him to us.  Here, for the first time, Tony explored the feelings he used to cover up with the drugs—the abuse he suffered from his mother as a child.  “She did crazy things,” he says sadly, but at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission he’s learned the skills to work through those memories to healing.

If you met Tony today, you’d never believe he was the same man!  He’s an avid student at our Learning Center, and his family is amazed at his new life.  One brother, struggling with addiction himself, is even following in his footsteps!  “Not only do I want to be a productive citizen out there,” he says now, “I want to give back the way they gave to me.”