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I grew up in Fresno on a dairy farm – a great place to grow up, and a great way to grow up. On a dairy farm, as soon as you are old enough, you work day and night, and that’s what I did. After high school it became my line of work. However, there were other things going on in high school as well. As is the case with far too many kids, I started drinking, and very quickly it was a daily thing. And speed became a regular thing as well. By age 19 I was shooting meth.
I got married in high school, and quickly had 2 kids. That did not deter my habits, which were now addiction. My marriage was never stable, although it lasted 16 years. It was on again and off again due to my addiction. I did my first sobriety program at 28, a 16 month stay, but it didn’t work. I stayed sober for a while, then back to the usual pattern. The one fortunate thing was that my kids’ mom stayed sober for a number of years; but eventually even she started using meth and the kids ended up with my parents. My wife’s parents finished raising them, and thankfully they have turned out fine.
A while into my marriage I had gone into construction as my long term trade. After my first marriage ended, I remarried, this time for 5 years. During this time, I went further down the spiral. I had saved enough money to actually buy a house, but shortly thereafter, I was arrested and convicted of burglary. Upon release I once again entered a year long program, then stayed sober for a while, then returned to drugs and alcohol. Soon that marriage dissolved and I headed toward the bottom.
For the next several years I had no job, no income, no shelter, nothing. I was indigent. I lived in the creek in San Luis, and then I lived on the streets in San Diego. Then back to the creek in San Luis.
Finally, I hit the firm complete bottom and I came to the conclusion that I had had enough. I had to get help. I saw Dan’s name on a bulletin board along with his phone number. I placed my call for help to Dan.
Dan came to the creek and got me. We did the interview, I was given admission into Sunny Acres. We went back to the creek to pick up my belongings and I have been here ever since.
When I first arrived, we were in the stucco building – the one the county shut down – and I was one of the many who moved out to the tents. A lot of people left, but I stayed based on my firm believe that things would get better. And while people are still in tents, I am better – vastly better. I am clean and sober and I will stay here and continue to work on my sobriety until I feel I am ready to re-enter the world outside of Sunny Acres in a permanent sober state. I owe all this to Dan. I love and respect him. He is a kind, compassionate man, and I believe he is misunderstood by many people.
I am the head cook here at Sunny Acres. I have always enjoyed cooking, and it became one of my survival skills. When I came here, my only goal was sobriety, but a cooking opportunity came up and now that’s one of the ways I can contribute here.
Sunny Acres has helped me get my life back. In the past, with my two prior year-long programs, I would come out of them sober, but would sabotage my sobriety – just like addicts are prone to do. Here at Sunny Acres you continue to work on sobriety until YOU are ready. You are the one who determines when you are ready to return to society. That’s what Sunny Acres offers, and that’s why I love it here.