Kalani’s life has been a thrill ride of highs and lows. As a child, he was removed from his home by Child Protective Services due to his parents’ drug and alcohol abuse. Fortunately, he was raised by a kind foster family. As a young man, the world held lots of promise. He had a job he loved, career aspirations and a long-time girlfriend he was about to marry.
But Kalani’s plans went awry when he started stealing cars and was eventually sentenced to prison for 16 months. Upon his release, he began a steep downward spiral with drugs and alcohol. An old work injury kept him in chronic pain. When his relationship grew volatile, they split up and he began living on the streets. Kalani was addicted, demoralized and homeless.
Wandering through the ugly streets of Los Angeles’ Skid Row, he stopped to rest. “I decided to call my sister,” Kalani said. “Not to ask for help – just to hear a friendly voice.”
It turned out that Kalani’s sister had been through Union Station’s programs years earlier and was eager for her brother to have the same experience of finding help and, perhaps, a new life.
Kalani moved into the men’s dorm at the Adult Center. At first, he found it easier to help out in the kitchen and laundry room rather than attend “12-step” recovery meetings. He told his case manager he was just trying to be of service, but she convinced him that he needed to deal with his addiction if he really wanted to change his life.
“She said I had to work on me first, before I had anything to give. I wasn’t happy about it to be honest, but I did start going to those meetings,” said Kalani. There he found a support system and fellowship that made all the difference.
Sober and healthy, Kalani now lives in his own apartment in Pasadena. He is now truly able to give to others.
“Every day I try to help someone who’s in the same situation that I was,” he said. “It’s my turn to help. I feel like this is the beginning of what I want my life to be about.”
Angry and feeling inadequate, John’s early bad judgments and bouts with drugs and alcohol found him at age 33 living in his car.
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