View a video of William’s testimony here.
“My name is William. I was born and raised in Modesto, California. I graduated eighth grade, never been to a high school. I hit the streets young, dealing drugs, doing drugs, and stealing. At the age of 19 I was sentenced to 10 years in prison and served every day of that 10 years. I came out and I was a different person and I did every day of 10 years. Then I was in and out of prison for the next 10 years. I’ve done a total of 16 years and 10 months in prison.
In 2014, I was back in the streets, back doing the same thing I know – robbing, stealing, cheating and I was strung out on heroine. I kept trying to get my dad to help me. He would bring me to his house, I would clean up for 5-10 days and as soon as I got a little bit healthy, BOOM I would take off back to the streets. The fifth time, he brought me into his garage and told me, ‘You know I’m going to help you one last time because you’re my son, but you’re going to do this.’ And I said, ‘Well, what is it?’ My dad continued, ‘Your stepbrother Marky is down in Merced Rescue Mission. He’s been there about 18 months, graduated, is working and still living in one of their Sober Living homes.’ I said, ‘Ok call them and let’s see what they say.’ The whole time I was hoping they were going to say no, because I didn’t really want to go. As it turns out, Tim told my dad to bring me down.
I sat down with Tim and Anthony, I told them the whole story - I’m in the streets, I’m homeless, I’m strung out on heroine and I’m going to be sick if you even let me in. For some reason, they decided to let me in. The condition was I had to get my clothes out of the car and come in, right then. At the time I was just manipulating another system in my life. I thought I’ll just do this because I’m homeless, I’m doing bad and they’ll help me. Over time, I started changing. Anthony was rough on me, but in a good way. I’m thankful for him today because he’s been where I’ve been, and he knows all the little cons and ins and outs, so he was rough on me, but it was for the better.
When I entered the Mission, I was out on bail for selling drugs and they wanted to give me another five years and eight months in prison or they would take me to trial and give me 18 years due to my prison history and my gang affiliation. I graduated from the Mission and went back to court with my lawyer and my certificate from the Rescue Mission, a letter from Pastor Bruce, and a letter from Tim. The judge dismissed the charges, and I got three years of probation in Merced County.
Eight months later, my probation officer could see that I was doing well, working odd jobs, trying to do something with myself. He told me one day, ‘We got funding for this new project, the Phoenix Project, and what would you say if we paid to send you through school?’ You know what? I graduated from that school and am now employed by Foster Farms.
As I said at the beginning of my story, it was by happenstance that I ended up at the Mission but thank God that I did because that’s where everything changed for me. I ended up here by the grace of God. If there are people out there that don’t want to come to the Mission because they don't like rules, I was that person. I was faking it to make it for a long time, but life has rules. If you want to change something in your life, you must change everything. In the program you’re going to get disciplined, get up early every morning, make your bed, do your chores, do your devotion, you’re going to do what’s asked of you. I’ve been sent out for Love Inc., picking up furniture and I used to hate that – Tim and Anthony knew I hated that, so they used to send me every day. I started to appreciate it. It starts to feel good helping people and giving back instead of being a taker. Today I’m a giver.
I’ve been in and out of prison all my life, then I came here. I got right with the Lord, I went back to school, I put in the foot work and it paid off. You can’t look at all the failures from the program because those are people who didn’t try to put in the work. Look at the success stories, look at Anthony, look at David, look at Tim. We all came through here and we’re successful people today.
People from the community that give to the Mission are a blessing. The moral of the story is, if you come into this program with the honesty of wanting to change your life and better your life, this is the place to do it. And don’t look at the bad apples and think the program doesn’t work - no, the program very much works, 100% and I’m proof. I am grateful for everyone involved with the Mission because it changed my life.”
- William, MCRM Graduate 2015