Stories of Transformation: Alex

A quick bite changed Alex’s life when nothing else would

Over the last eight years, Alex has survived severe car accidents, the wrath of the cartel, and multiple overdoses. His friends and family all cut ties. He’s lost job after job, and he even spent six months on the streets. None of it served as a wake-up call for Alex.

“The last time I overdosed, I was at a Circle K. These random people picked me up. I was smoking fentanyl powder when it happened. Luckily, they pushed me out of the car in front of the hospital. When I woke up, the doctors said I was lucky it was cold that night, and the nurse found me when she did. I guess my heart stopped. I called somebody to come pick me up and started getting high again on the way back home.

In my mind, I’m thinking, ‘Dude, this is the third time, and I’m still not dead. Nothing can stop me. Obviously, I’m not meant to die, so I’m going to keep doing it.’”

Despite the setback, God wasn’t ready to give up on Alex. He had something special in mind to finally get his attention.

It was a burrito.

“I was walking home at like 1:00 in the morning. Well, not home, but to one of the abandoned houses I was staying at. A group of people I know would hang out by this office complex and they always had food. So I stopped there, grabbed a burrito, and as I was walking away the cops pulled up and said we were trespassing. They pulled my name, found I had a warrant, and I got arrested. If I hadn’t stopped for that burrito, I would have been high and overdosing again in no time.”

In jail, Alex reached out to everyone he could think of for help.

“I tried calling my son’s mom, and she said she couldn’t help me anymore. That she was done. I called my mom but she wasn’t interested in talking with me. My dad said he wanted nothing to do with me ever again. Then mom said, ‘We love you, but obviously we’re not helping you. You’ve just got to be in jail.’”

Then help came from an unexpected place – you.

“My public defender told me he knew of some program that I could get in, and I’d probably get early release if I was willing to do it. In my head, I’m like, ‘You’re just a public defender. You’re not going to do anything.’ He gave me the number to Jussane [Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Director of Community Engagement].”

Alex’s plan was to show up at the Mission and then leave.

“When I got here, I wanted nothing to do with this place. I was like, ‘These are some weirdo people. This has to be a cult or something. They’re happy for no reason. Everyone keeps asking me what I want, or if they can get me something.’ I was sure they wanted something from me.”

Despite the culture shock, Alex found himself sticking around – and God went to work.

While in Phoenix Rescue Mission’s recovery program, Alex “gave that whole God thing a chance” and joy began to return to his life. As his life was transformed, Alex was reunited with his son, and he’s been in his life ever since.

“I just remember one night I was sitting in chapel, and they were playing this song. And I don’t know why, but I just started crying. It was the first time I cried in, I think, three years. I was like, ‘God, if this is you trying to tell me something, I don’t understand. I don’t get it.’ Then I got this weird feeling. Everything felt like it was gone. Like a weight was gone. It was easier to breathe… I don’t know how to explain it. Everything just felt different.”

That’s when Alex’s life took a different direction.

“I don’t know, it’s like I just finally caught myself being one of those weird people. I started getting happy. I actually wanted to be here. I started giving that whole God thing a chance and things started changing right away. Like everything started working out.”

But it wasn’t just Alex. While God was hard at work on his heart through peer counseling sessions and classes in our recovery program, He was also mending the hearts of those who cared for Alex.

“I ended up talking to my son’s mom, which was a surprise, because she wanted nothing to do with me. She sent me pictures of my son and things just started working out. When I was able to start making phone calls in Inner Healing [the second phase of Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Recovery Program] I was able to call my son and talk to him for the first time in about a year and a half. Then she let me see him again. I’ve been in my son’s life ever since then.”

And as Alex continued to improve, he saw his relationships with his mom and dad heal, court charges were easier to pay back or were dismissed entirely through Homeless Court, and he started to make friends with the weirdos who helped him through it all.

“I’ve always heard so much stuff about rehabs, and that’s why I was like, “I’m never going. They don’t care.” But the staff actually cares here, like Richard Heitz [Lead Street Outreach Case Manager], he’s the one that picked me up from jail. Jussane, she didn’t even know me, and we spent a week on the phone, talking. And she talked to my mom for me, while I was in jail. She’s the reason why I got in here. And then, Richard Jones [Recovery Coach], he’s been amazing.”

Today, Alex is transformed. He’s sober, a graduate of our recovery program, and soon to be married to the mother of his son, Zander. He’s got a great job that he loves, he’s working on earning his CDL and has just bought the first car he’s ever owned. For the first time in a long time, Alex has a bright future ahead of him.

“I was nervous about being on my own again. But I realized, maybe like a weekend into it, that I’m set. I know what I’m supposed to do. I know how I’m supposed to be. And I know what I need to do if I need help. It’s kind of like school, everything they taught you there [at the Mission], was for a reason. You don’t realize how much you need it until you leave. The leadership stuff, the parenting classes – it helped me a lot, especially in having patience with this little guy,” Alex says, hugging Zander.

Alex still can’t believe God started it all with a burrito. And of course, he’s grateful to you for making everything, post-burrito, possible.

“Because of you, you gave me a chance at a life that everybody gave up on me for. Because of you, I have my kid. Because of you, I know how to be a man now. And because of you and this place, I’m alive. If I hadn’t come here, I probably would have been dead. It’s just crazy because I wouldn’t have all this if it wasn’t for the Mission and for God and you. I’m grateful for everything.

As a graduate of our recovery program, Alex now has the tools to navigate life successfully. He has a job he loves and will soon be married to his son’s mother.