Jerry grew up in Orange County with a “pretty normal family life” until the age of 14 when his parents divorced and his father disappeared. His mother, while physically present, was a full-blown alcoholic, which meant that Jerry and his brother had to fend for themselves. Aside from an occasional phone call from his dad, Jerry was on his own at 14-years-old. He started a handyman business to support himself, but gradually slipped into using and abusing drugs. Jerry was a “functional” meth user until the age of 35 when he was caught for drug possession. By the time the system and his parole violations caught up to him, he was 37 and on his way to prison for four years.
When Jerry was released from prison at the age of 42, he had nowhere to go. He was homeless for 7 months living in an abandoned building. He would go to the library and read books at night. He heard through the grapevine that he could get a hot meal at COA. He eventually started doing volunteer work at COA and was soon accepted into the Men’s COA Program, but relapsed after nine months. He went back to a six month rehabilitation program and after completion of that, COA welcomed him back into the Men’s Program.
Jerry has been back at COA six months, this time, and has 363 days of sobriety. What’s different this time around? Jerry attends 8-9 meetings every week. He has service commitments in AA. He tutors one day per week at Covenant Presbyterian Church. He is enrolled in TV Broadcasting at Long Beach College Liberal Arts Program. He is working hard to clean up the wreckage of his past. After a lot of hard work and stiff fines, Jerry now has his California Driver’s License. After years of estrangement, he has mended relationships with his daughter, brother and father and beams when he talks about how grateful he is to have them all back in his life.
Jerry is a positive influence on the other men in the COA Program. His great sense of humor, positive attitude and passion for sobriety and recovery helps drive other men in the COA Program to stay on track. “He is genuine and his progress here helps me to stay sober,” recounts one roommate. “During tense situations, he reminds others to stay positive.”
Jerry’s goals are continued sobriety, service work, positive relationships, and finishing the TV Press and Broadcasting Program. Once he has his certificate he is thinking that he might want to work on production sets. “It’s different this time around,” Jerry says. “I can see the red flags that pop up now, things that used to get in the way of my recovery. I know what I’m spotting because I am invested in my recovery.”