Our Needs During COVID-19. Learn More

Close this search box.

Trading Drug Deals For Devotion

Finding peace and purpose at Mission Academy

At just 11 years old, Jarred’s world came crashing down. Raised in a single parent home in New York, Jarred’s mom was his best friend, his rock. Then, she suddenly passed away. Her death left him feeling lost and heartbroken. Seeking to belong and craving security, Jarred followed the influence of an older friend and began selling drugs at age 16.

He knew dealing drugs was wrong, but it gave him the financial security he wanted. He told himself that after all he’d been through, he deserved to be happy, even if what he did hurt family and friends.

By his 30s, Jarred had everything he thought he needed to be whole. Dealing drugs was simply a means to an end, so he didn’t understand why he felt so empty.

Desperate for a change, Jarred came to California in 2020. But the change of scenery brought no relief. A deep depression overwhelmed him.

After nearly being shot while dealing drugs and separating from his girlfriend, Jarred felt he had nothing worth living for. Hopeless and unable to shake the darkness, he was about to take his life and end the pain. “But before I pulled the trigger, I heard my mother’s voice ‘I love you, son.’” Jarred decided then he wanted to live.

Determined to become a better man, Jarred came to Mission Academy in September 2022 for a fresh start. “The first night I slept at the Mission was the best night’s sleep I had in over 16 years. There was something about this place that brought me such peace.

Going to chapel and developing a tight bond with his case manager, he finally felt loved and accepted. Jarred has overcome his depression and now has a joy for life and his walk with Jesus. It was his relationship with Ernie, a Mission chef, that significantly influenced his spiritual growth. Working in the kitchen, they shared Bible verses and prayed for one another. Jarred is grateful for the laughter and happiness he’s experienced. “I serve in the kitchen to give back to this place that has done so much for me.”

Jarred has been working full-time for a year as a Public Safety Ambassador, often helping those living on the streets. He’s involved in his church and is pursuing a career in law enforcement. He graduated at our Fall Graduation and moved into his own place.

What’s the biggest change he’s experienced? Jarred beams, “Now I’m living my life in service of helping people, not to make money.”

Thank you for being a lifesaver. You gave Jarred a second chance. To see your impact and read more uplifting stories, click to download our full 2023 Impact Report.

Jarred and the kitchen staff serve 900 meals daily at the Mission.

Help Other People Like Jarred…

Inspired by this story? Support men, women and children in their long-term recovery and help them find healing.