“They helped me become a better man.”
Because of his family’s history Rudy grew up thinking he’d eventually wind up in a gang and go to prison for gang activity. His dad, who died before Rudy was born, and most of his uncles were all gang bangers so Rudy thought his fate was sealed to be “in the family business.”
Thankfully Rudy never joined a gang. Raised by his mother and grandmother he managed to stay in school and “just be a kid” even though he lived in a heavily gang infested area. Rudy did however start smoking pot when he was just 10 years old, “cause out there in California, a lot of kids were doing it so I just started doing it too. I wasn’t a heavy user it was just something kids did after school for fun.”
Years later when he was 25 his girlfriend at the time introduced him to prescription opiates like oxycodone and Roxies. Together they were doing and selling pills pretty much all the time. Rudy tried quitting once but the withdrawals made his so sick he went back to using again. Eventually the pills weren’t giving him “that feeling” he was always chasing so he started doing heroin and very quickly became a full-blown addict.
“I had five overdoses. Once I went into cardiac arrest and my heart stopped beating. I was at a friend’s house in a room by myself. He told me later he found me there unconscious because his cat wouldn’t stop scratching at the door, which it never did. So he opened the door to make the cat stop and found me and called the ambulance.” Thank God for cats! During this time Rudy became homeless living in his car which he says he actually got comfortable doing because to him it was better than going home in his condition.
Rudy, who now had three children eventually moved to Georgia and turned to crime to support them and his growing habit. He was arrested numerous times and had several outstanding warrants. “I was tired of running from the police. I had warrants out for me, and I was just so tired of the way I was living.” Because of his crimes and lifestyle his children were removed from his care. “I felt my purpose as a man was to take care of my kids and make sure they’re safe so for me this was rock bottom AND the walk-up call I needed to change the way I was living.”
Rudy wanted to do the right thing, so he turned himself in to the police and did his time. Two days after leaving jail he came to the Rescue Mission seeking help. “I was so nervous, but everyone was so kind. They asked if I needed anything and really welcomed me with open arms. Since I’ve been here I’ve healed so much from things I didn’t allow myself to think about in the past, like not having a father growing up. I’ve learned to forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made, especially where my kids are concerned. I always believed in God growing up but now I KNOW God. I’m not afraid all the time anymore, I trust people more, and I’m making better decisions.”
Best of all I’m reunited with my kids and other family members, and I now have the tools and relationship with God and others that I need to live a sober, productive life. I’m looking forward to graduating the Mission’s life-recovery program, getting a job, and a home so I can be with my kids again and be the father they need and deserve. I am so grateful to God and the Rescue Mission they’ve helped me be a better man!”