Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a series. Each one has intentionally been left in its original, unedited state to preserve the tone and voice of its author.
My name is Ricky, I grew up in the state of Washington in a house where drugs and alcohol were part of my everyday life, my parents where habitual users as well as dealers. I was the oldest of four children. Most of my life, I was raised by grandmother.
I went to school most of the time, but never invested the time to learn. I dropped out of high school during my junior year.
At the age of 18, I was sentenced to one year in jail for an assault I committed. In the end, I served only 8 months and was released early for good behavior. While in jail, I picked up the Bible, the very first book I read was Job. The book of Job is about the justice of God when it comes to human suffering. As I read the book, I found myself being able to relate to Job. Reading the Bible, I was intrigued by God’s words and His love for me. I spent most of my time reading the Bible, memorizing it and applying it to my life. I turned my life over the God, and I am so thankful that I know Him as my heavenly Father.
Ever since I was young, I had an adventurous life, I always loved going to new places and meeting new people. This kind of a life style played a lot into my drug and alcohol addictions. After dropping out of high school, I ended up leaving home and began to travel around, never did I have a place in mind to go, I just went. Along the way I would meet new people, sleep wherever I could, and try to make some money from time to time, however the money would be spent as fast as I could earn it. I traveled for about a year and a half before I made my way to Portland. While in Portland, I began to hang out with the wrong crowds that took me further away from where I thought I wanted to go. One night, I was trying to protect someone from a bad situation, only to have a large knife pulled on me. fortunately I was not stabbed. I knew I had to do something to get my life on a better path. While on the streets, I heard about “street church,“ Transitional Youth. I went one Thursday night to get some food, and that is where I found out more about their program. I decided that night that I wanted to try out the program. I moved into the Beaverton House a couple days later. I was there for a few weeks and then moved to the Ritz Family Ranch, I thought I would like that type of environment better. I just could not settle in very well and it seemed like the adventurous lifestyle was calling my name again. I ended up leaving the program a few weeks later and headed down to California. I was on the road again, meeting new people, sleeping wherever and started using drugs and alcohol again. I spent the next 8 months on the road only to work my way back to Oregon. I hooked up with some friends in Eugene, but quickly realized my life was not going anywhere.
After a few weeks in Eugene, I ended up calling Jason, the Beaverton House Director and asked him if I could rejoin the Transitional Youth program. After talking with him on the phone for a while, he told me to come home. He purchased a one way ticket on a Bolt bus to get me back up to Portland. He picked me up from the station and I got situated back into the Beaverton House. At first, it was hard for me to think about living in the same place for a year. However, I got a job working full time for Beaverton Foursquare Church as a landscaper.
I have been at the Beaverton House for a year now, and I am still employed at Beaverton Foursquare Church. I love what I do and I am so thankful for the opportunity. There are still things that I want to do, like finish my GED and get my driver’s license, and in time I know I will get them. I have passed 3 out of 4 tests to get my GED; I only have the math section left to do. I have taken the math test, and missed passing by only 4 points. I have been studying and I plan on taking the test again soon! As soon as I get my GED, I will start to learn how to drive.
As I begin my second year working for the church and moving into another house, I cannot stop from thinking how blessed I am and how much Transitional Youth has taught me which has given me a new foundation in life that has allowed me to grow in my faith with the Lord and given me a new community of support.