“Jail is a terrible place,” says Wayne, as the sadness in his eyes reveals the awful details from his past rushing to his mind as he speaks those words.
To say that Wayne (48) has had a rough life is an understatement. His biological father vanished from his life when he was very young and he was raised by his mother and step father: a man who introduced him to drugs when he was only 12 years old. At around the same time, the family moved from a quiet family neighborhood to another neighborhood with an abundance of gangs. Slowly, Wayne became an addict and in just a few years, marijuana turned into crystal meth, and crystal meth into heroine.
“Early in my addiction,” Wayne recalls, “I could still somehow function. I worked as a security guard or as a driver. I didn’t know I had a problem. I just wanted to feel part of the group and did what everyone was doing. When my addiction got out of control I could no longer keep a job. Then I turned to collecting cans and bottles on the streets for recycling money.”
Everything about that time is a blur. There are things that Wayne remembers, but there are also many blanks that he struggles to fill in. “It may sound odd,” he says, “but I remember looking down at my feet one day and thinking…where did these shoes come from? All the sudden I realized that I couldn’t even recognize my own shoes! I was lost.”
But worst of all, he admits, was that he didn’t realize that his actions could affect others. “Drugs got me into trouble, and trouble got me in jail,” says Wayne with regret.
We would love to say that Wayne felt happy after being released from jail, but the truth is that he became deeply depressed and felt helpless. “I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t know how to interact with people. I was in bed and lonely most of the day while in jail so I just kept on doing the same thing at home. But one day, all of that changed when Gardner reached out to me and came, literally, knocking on my front door.
The road to recovery
At Gardner, we know that dealing with stress, depression, anxiety, or a chronic medical illness can be very difficult. Thanks to the generous support from our donors, we can offer quality services through our Integrated Behavioral Health team of Counselors, Peer Partners, and Psychiatrists working together to improve people’s life.
These services have a huge impact on people like Wayne because they aim to address complex issues and put people on the right path feeling healthy again. Wayne recalls, “Gardner got me out of bed and into the support groups. They even taught me how to take the bus to get to the clinic and paired me with a buddy who would always come with me to meetings.”
No change is ever easy, especially when a person has had many setbacks. For Wayne, going to the groups was hard at first since he felt anxious around people, but he went every week nonetheless. Ultimately, this group transformed Wayne’s life! “The more I heard my counselors and peers talk the more I realized that even though I had made a lot of mistakes in the past, I had the power to make whatever I wanted of my future.”
What does that future look like? Wayne smiles softly now and his excitement about what he’s about to reveal is visible.
“I have been clean for 4 years now” he says proudly. I see my doctor regularly and haven’t had even a cold in the last few years” I feel great and I can’t thank Gardner enough for all the support!
Helping others thrive
In the midst of his own recovery, something amazing happened to Wayne: He discovered his passion and talent for helping others.
Wayne now works full time at Gardner as a mentor and he loves his job so much that his family now calls him a workaholic.
“This job makes me thrive as a person, it energizes me. I can relate well to what others are going through because I’ve been there.”
Wayne is now on a mission to became the ‘best version of himself,’ and, encouraged by other Gardner employees, is now enrolled at San Jose City College Alcohol and Drug Studies program. This will prepare him further to work as a counselor with the alcohol and other drug dependent population. “This,” says Wayne, “is my dream job!”
It’s our hope to keep knocking on more doors like Wayne’s. Your financial support will help us do it!
Please consider donating to Gardner today!
By Mail: Fund Development 160 E. Virginia St. Suite 100 San Jose, CA 95112
Or Contact: Jumay Hipolito 408.579.6190