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Our mission here at Weld Seattle is to offer a path out for those who have been
long involved with the justice system. We offer vital support through community,
resources, and access to housing and employment—giving people a leg up and
stepping stone to a new life, free from the cycle of release and re-arrest, or brief
recovery and relapse. Gabe’s story is a powerful example of how support,
housing, and friendship can make the difference between life and death, prison
and freedom, and addiction and recovery.
Read on for more, as Gabe tells it:
“I’m going to start all the way back, cause it is pretty important.
Weld has really saved my life. I’ve just got so much gratitude for this program
and the people that are working in it. I would say that I’m a product of the
system, all the way. I was in foster care from really early age, from eight years
old. Bounced around. And of course, doing that – by the time I was old enough
to juvenile hall, I went there. And you know, going to places like that really
early on just sets you up for more.
Throughout those teen years is when all my family passed away. My little sister,
my mom, and then my uncle. By the time I was 19, they were gone. Of course,
that gave me every excuse in the book to try to fill the hole inside of me with
every drug I could find. I guess it seemed like it was real fun earlier on, because I
was trying to escape. I always found myself being the guy who wanted to keep
partying when everyone else was ready to go home. Well, there was no home for
me to go to. The hard drugs started right around 19, right after my mom died.
When I was introduced to meth, it became a different story. It became
I had already gone to jail a few times and became really resentful of the system.
So I made it a mission to beat the system. I began to get heavily involved with
manufacturing counterfeit money. That led me to a whole new level of bad stuff.
Real bad stuff, real bad people. Got myself in over my head with different kinds of
criminals. I was kind of like the nerd criminal, the white-collar criminal – thought
I was real smart. But I got a lot of hard lessons out there, really hard lessons. And
I kind of accepted that I was eventually going to go to prison. Which I did – I did
my first state prison sentence when I was 23, for possession of fictitious bills.
In California, where I am from, prison is a right of passage – everybody goes
to prison. So I kind of wore it like a badge of honor, that I made it through it, and
early on accepted that eventually I was going make it to the feds [federal prison].
Having that in the back of my head, I pretty much just led myself there. I know it
sounds weird, but I wanted to go. I ran as hard as I could and did as much as I
could to and tried to prove I could find someone out there who cared enough
about me to make it stop, but I never found it.
Eventually, I went to federal prison. The secret service and the FBI handled my
case. I was looking at some really serious time—like, 20 years. I ended up getting
five. I had a lot of time to reflect on why I did what I did. So of course, when I got
out, I still hadn’t really found an answer for that, so I played the part for
and went back out.
Over all this time, being in the system, and being against it, I became a real liar
about my addiction. Getting away with it. I told myself if I was going to use, I was
going to moderate. And I finally realized how much of a liar I was. And I was still
alone. Eventually, I got ahold of a bad batch [of drugs], and it gave me a stroke at
33 years old. A week out of the ICU, I was using again. I knew something needed
Before I’d gone to prison, I had gotten a girl pregnant. She had left and come up
to Seattle. And at that point, I thought the only thing I really needed to do was
give myself a goal, so I decided to check myself into rehab up here at the
Salvation Army, and try to be a dad. That didn’t pan out, because I had done a lot
of damage, but I did complete the program, at the Salvation Army.
Then I went back out again. It was real insanity. And somehow through the
grapevine, I got Ron’s number [Weld house manager].
And I’ll tell you what, man. It was the first time that somebody—not just Ron,
but everybody at Weld—proved that they were going to see me through. No
matter what it was, they were going to work with me; they were going to help
me find myself. Which is what’s been happening! Since I’ve been here…I don’t
even know how to explain it. I’ve been learning more about myself and who I am,
more than I ever have, because I’ve got people around me who aren’t just quick
to throw you away.
In a lot of situations in life, people are quick to throw you away, if you relapse, if
you mess up, you’re kicked out. But here, they want to work with you, they want
to help you. This is the most difficult thing a person can do. So, out of
everything I’ve been through, it’s landed me here, and for the first time in my life,
I can finally see myself and where I’m at. And really, I’m done lying to myself.
Through this program, and seeing me through, and not just throwing me away,
things have been happening. Good things, too. Cause we all have fun here. I feel
like I finally found my family. I really do.
Recovery is a weird thing. There’s like a business to it, in a lot of places. But
coming here, it’s not that. They are really trying to help save lives here. Cause I
been through it, and I’ve seen a lot of different aspects of recovery – no place has
done me as good as Weld has, hands down. I’m just grateful to get to share this,
because this is a program that needs to be promoted. It’s really difficult to find
sincerity, anymore, in anything these days. Especially with what’s going on –
people in the world are just getting pushed further and further apart. And you
come here and you find a family.”
Thanks for sharing your journey, Gabe. We love getting to be part of such
powerful stories of healing and hope.