September 1, 2016

Week 6 – after a few bumpy weeks adjusting to the daily responsibilities at Bread of Life -- such as following directions, mopping floors, doing dishes and serving meals Harrison is finally in his element. He is settled at Bread of Life as one of our Resident Volunteers and is also working as an entrepreneur.

Harrison has found employment as a seller of the weekly paper, Real Change. After completing his daily chores at The Mission, Harrison takes his place on a busy street corner for a few hours in Pioneer Square. During his first week he sold 10 newspapers! This week has been a little slower, but Harrison is optimistic, and believes that his best days are ahead of him!

Congratulations, Harrison. We are all very proud of you!

If you see Harrison in Pioneer Square - please say "hello."




This is where Harrison's story began....

July 15th, 2016

Week 2 - Good Morning…. a can of Sprite and a chocolate chip cookie because Harrison does not like “cardboard” cereal.

“Life sucks, I messed up.” “Badly.” “Let my family down.” Harrison says quietly.

22-year old Harrison arrived at Bread of Life as a Resident Volunteer thanks to his mother – as an adult he needed to learn about responsibility and finding a path. Harrison is originally from Chicago, and has lived in Seattle for 8 years. He has attended many different high schools, however, without graduating. “I hate school,” he says.

When Harrison was three years old, the doctors discovered a brain tumor during a routine treatment for an eye infection. Following his surgery, he lost his depth perception, peripheral vision, and can only identify a limited range of colors.

“Isn’t it weird, that I love art and colors,” he says, while filling the lines of a candy cane lollipop drawing with bright colors.

Here we have a young man, completely out of his element, surrounded by grown men who have decades of harsh street life experience. And yet they have taken him under their wing.

On the bright side, this is Harrison’s opportunity to learn in the school of life. He only needs to take ownership of his destiny.

Rest assured that Harrison is safe at the Bread of Life Mission!

The Breaking Point

One gentleman who graduated from our Life Change Recovery program had his innocence taken from him at the tender age of 6. James grew up in a home with no father. Not only that, his mother worked three jobs and was rarely home to take care of him and his siblings. He spent most of his free time at his aunt’s house but she was usually “passed out drunk.” He didn’t know anything different than the adults in his life abusing alcohol or being absent. As a result, James started drinking alcohol when he was six years old…and things went downhill from there.

By eight years old James was already hanging out on the streets. His role model was a nineteen year old drug addict and gang member. Young people are always looking for someone to admire and look up to. In healthy homes, a child can look up to a parent or guardian…but James couldn’t. With no father around, that troubled young teen was all he had and James eventually joined a gang when he was twelve.

James felt the pain of rejection not only from his father, but his mother and grandmother too. His mother would tell him that she wanted to get rid of him when he disobeyed or got into trouble. James buried and masked that pain by experimenting with drugs and continuing to drink. He started smoking marijuana in middle school and by age thirteen he was selling it.

After high school, James got a girl pregnant. That little baby would evoke something powerful in James’ life in the future. But not until he had been in jail two hundred times and convicted of multiple crimes. James’ life was moving very quickly on the road to destruction and spinning out of control. He tried to go through multiple recovery programs but nothing ever really stuck.

James’ breaking point came not too long ago when his wife decided to leave him and his mother stopped talking to him. He became so depressed that he would drink all day and didn’t want to live anymore. He didn’t love himself and didn’t feel like anyone loved him, even God. James was ready to give up…but something amazing happened. A friend of James’ older brother had come to Bread of Life and told James he should go there to get help.

In the past he had entered programs but always with the plan to keep on drinking and not really change. This time was different though, he knew that he couldn’t continue living with all his pain.

The first night here at the mission, James lay on the bed and God put a thought in his head. If he was going to change on the inside, he would need God to change his surroundings. He prayed and asked God to help him make those changes. He also remembered his son, who was now ten years old. He didn’t want him to be ashamed of his father or not want contact with him…James wanted to stop the cycle that he had experienced in his own life.

It was over eight months ago that James walked through our doors and entered the LifeChange program. Since then, God has begun to do something beautiful in his life. He has a growing relationship with his healer, Jesus Christ. While in our Recovery Program he worked with our catering company Heroes and got beneficial on-the- job training too. He graduated in May of this year and is pursuing higher education now. James “feels alive” again and has a hope for his future.

“te quiero”

Imagine a beautiful young family…full of life and purpose. Four adoring children, a loving mother and father and a home built on respect and values. That is the life Jose knew as a young boy in the country of El Salvador. 

However, all that came crashing down one day when Jose’s father passed away. Jose would never know what it felt like to be held in a father’s embrace or hear his father say, “te quiero” (I love you). Jose was only a little boy when life started to feel like it was falling apart. 

With 3 older siblings, Jose was searching for someone to look up to. Sadly, he started following his brother who had already developed a habit of smoking weed. By 14, Jose was using the drug too. Smoking felt good, made him happy and was the “teenager” thing to do.

After High school Jose moved to the U.S. and got a job in the restaurant industry. With one drug already under his belt, Jose decided to start experimenting with cocaine. Soon he became addicted and one day he sold drugs to an undercover cop and was sent to jail. 

While serving his time, Jose was introduced to the Bible. He had grown up in a Catholic home but it was in jail that he learned more about God. Even so, when recounting that season of his life, Jose quotes Matthew 13:5, that describes the seed falling on rocky soil. What he learned about God didn’t take root…it would be some time before his foundation in Christ became sturdy.

Jose eventually got out of jail and went to a recovery program. While there he accepted Christ as his savior and even graduated. He went on to get married and was living quite happily with his new family. After sometime though, Jose found out some painful details about his wife’s past that made it difficult for him to trust her. They ended up getting a divorce and Jose moved on to the next chapter in his life. 
A year and a half after his divorce, Jose got romantically involved with a recovering heroin addict. Despite his efforts to stay clean, he eventually succumbed to the powerful gravity of the drug. Life became a whirlwind of buying, selling, and using and Jose couldn’t break the cycle. 

After another recovery program, God convicted Jose about his addiction and he was able to break free for some time. However, he had become addicted to pain medication from a knee injury and didn’t even realize it. Addiction was squeezing the life out of Jose and stealing the plans and purposes out from under him. In Jose’s words, his addiction to drugs was, “evil and a spiritual battle.”

Jose’s breaking point came last Thanksgiving when he wound up eating Top Ramen and pumpkin pie out of a can. He had spent all his money on drugs and couldn’t pay rent or barely buy food. A good friend of his told him it was time to surrender all to God and to let Him do the miracle and transformation instead of trying to overcome the addictions on his own. 

After that powerful conversation with his buddy, Jose decided to call Bread of Life Mission. He had heard about us years ago when his church would pick up food donations here. Jose decided to join our Life Change Recovery Program and since then he has been DRUG FREE!

Not only that, he started attending Bible studies that are a part of the program and that is when God spoke to him about the purposes and plans He had for Jose’s life. “I felt like God was picking me up and I felt his arms around me.” Jose had a past full of mistakes and failures but what he has learned here at the Bread of Life has wiped all that away.

“I’m gonna go find myself.”

“I’m gonna go find myself.”

Bernard came from a large and very poor family. He was the second youngest of ten children and he grew up knowing what it meant to do without. Meals in his home were peanut butter and jelly or macaroni. When he was seven years old, Bernard’s mom and dad got divorced. Bernard’s father was an alcoholic and Bernard never had contact with him again after his parent’s marriage ended.