We’d like to share a piece about not letting your past define your future by Fernando, a participant in our Substance Use Disorder Treatment (SUDT) program and an inmate at the Sierra Conservation Center (SCC).
“Hello ladies and gentleman,
Thank you for this opportunity to share my story. My name is Fernando. I’m 28 years old and have been incarcerated for the last seven years. Sadly, as most of us have experienced growing up, this type of environment is not new to me. Being raised in a broken home, I found comfort and love in the wrong places. I quickly gravitated towards a Sureno gang out of the County of Merced and soon found myself on this destructive path.
I now find myself truly growing up and making valuable changes for my future. I’ve since denounced my gang affiliation that once manipulated everything about me, but most importantly – I’ve taken back control of my life. That’s why I’ve decided to become a member of the SUDT program and am hopeful to obtain a new perspective and useful tools to improve my life. I’ll soon, in the near future, be fortunate to rejoin my community and with that, I have a responsibility to make sure this transformation is a success so I can become a productive citizen and an engaged father to my gorgeous daughters in every aspect of their lives because they are my everything.
As I’ve said previously, growing up in that broken home, I was deprived of the essential role models I needed to ensure a healthy childhood. I think about the relationship I had with my own father. He left me when I was five years old and I never truly got to know him. It is sad because I feel that every boy deserves to have a father in their life. So, it is no secret that I didn’t cry when I found out that he died. It’s not that I wasn’t sad; I just didn’t have it in me to cry for a stranger. My mom wasn’t much different than my dad. She often left me alone to fend for myself when she went out and partied with her friends. Because of this, I had to grow up really fast, which didn’t allow me to get the necessary tools to be successful in the real world. It’s fair to say that the abandonment I experienced from both of my parents affected my parenting skills because I’m here before you instead of attending parent/teacher conferences.
It’s hard to say, but I’ve continued the cycle. It’s a sad feeling when your own children see you in the same light. Although my princesses do know me, in a sense, I’m a stranger to them. It’s for these reasons as well as wanting to become a better man that I’ve taken steps to change and make a commitment that will bring a new meaning to my life.
I have a way to go, but anything worth having is worth working for. Education is at the top of the list. I will be working towards my GED. I would also like to obtain some job skills and trades so I’ll have several options for employment. I never held a job out there for any significant amount of time. Selling drugs and stealing were more lucrative, which in turn would cause me to be in and out of jail.
My story is not unique outside of it being about me, but many of you hearing this have experienced similar situations, It’s what we do in the end that counts. Before I end, I would like to leave you with this quote that gives me encouragement and hope:
‘Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.’ – Carl Bard
I would also like to thank WestCare for giving me this opportunity to share my story and for the staff who took their time to deal with and heal my broken pieces. Also with the help of my friends who supported and helped me through this: Jonathan, Luis, Freddy and my girlfriend, Karen. WestCare is giving us the opportunity to start something new only if you want that change.”
For over 40 years, WestCare California has been providing an opportunity for individuals to lead fuller, richer lives. Our team of multi-cultural, experienced and credentialed staff is dedicated to providing the best care to everyone who enters our doors. Our goal is to uplift the human spirit by providing the skills and support necessary for individuals to achieve their dreams and transform their lives.
WestCare provides a wide spectrum of health and human services in both residential and outpatient environments. Our service domains include mental health & wellness, substance abuse and addiction treatment, housing opportunities, education & prevention, criminal justice and veterans programs. These services are available to adults, children, adolescents and families.