BLOG POSTS

May 2024: Loren

Loren is a Reentry Program member who joined the program in January 2024. We couldn’t be more excited to have Loren’s positive attitude, shop experience, and work ethic in our community! Loren talks about the highs and lows of his sobriety journey and how advanced manufacturing has helped.

Growing up, I didn’t have consistent friends or family around me because I came from a military family, so moving from place to place was the only consistency I had. I found a new family in drugs and gang life when I was about 16 or 17. I’ve been in and out of incarceration from the ages of 18-35 and always ended up going back. Whenever I got out, I would sell drugs, live in hotels and transitional housing, and eventually end up getting arrested again. Back in 2018, I got sober and started my own automotive business building high-end cars, but I relapsed after a few years. I was upset that I kept going back to drugs even when I didn’t want to, but my addiction had a hold on me that wouldn’t let me go.

Things started looking up when I realized life is so much better and easier when you’re clean. I’ve been out of jail and sober since June 2023. I joined Rise Up Industries because I could get support while learning more about what I was already interested in. I’m taking advantage of all I can while I’m here, and I’ve really appreciated everyone I’ve met and everything I’ve learned. 

I love what I’m learning in the classroom and being able to immediately apply it on the shop floor. I’m learning CAD/CAM programming to design parts the right way. I’ve already built a set of Harley handlebars, and a few parts for my car. It’s all going to help me reach my goal of designing automotive parts.

Aside from the job training, Wendy, Rise Up’s case manager, has been a huge support in helping me overcome barriers in other parts of my life so that I can focus in the shop. She’s helped me access gas cards, which has been so helpful because I live about 30 minutes from the shop. She’s also helped me access funding for additional shop tooling and work clothes and get significant legal fees canceled. 

When you’re struggling with addiction, you really need to hit rock bottom on your own, then decide for yourself that you want to make a change. I am doing exactly that. 

 

APRIL 2024: ADRIAN

Adrian is a Reentry Program member who joined the program in October 2023. His shop supervisors and fellow program members describe him as dependable and motivated in his learning. Adrian talks about his journey in finding healing, stability, and a career path he’s excited about. 

I grew up in Mexico with my parents still together. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized my parents had a problem with drinking and drug abuse. As I got older, I started making bad decisions. A lot of it had to do with who I was spending time around. Specific friends and family members. I got into alcohol and drugs to numb the pain of the things I had been through. The times where I most avoided going home was when I was using alcohol or drugs, and ended up sleeping on the streets. I’ve always had somewhere to go, but there have been times in my life where I chose to be on the streets.

When I was arrested in October 2022, I spent time in prison thinking about how I was stuck in this broken cycle. I would start to do well, and get on the straight and narrow and then fall off again. I wasn’t able to stick to being sober and clean on my own. I really considered how much I was letting everyone down. It was a very hard realization.

Being on the street is tough. A lot of crazy things are happening out there. Sometimes there are people who genuinely want to help you, but it can be really hard to discern who to trust and who wants to hurt you.

I heard about Rise Up Industries through the transitional living home I stayed in. When I heard about the schooling involved, I wasn’t too sure. But now I know that I am very blessed to be here. I look forward to coming to work everyday. I love that the work is so hands on. And I love the on-the-job training and being able to make parts for customers. I am grateful to be a part of Rise Up Industries, and I look forward to seeing where a career in CNC machining can take me.

 

March 2024: MIKE

Mike is a Reentry Program member who joined the program in October 2023. Since then, he’s grown personally and professionally. Mike talks about some barriers he has overcome in his reentry experience and the people that have supported him along the way.

I grew up in Southeast San Diego. I was taken care of – we had a safe home, food to eat, enough clothes. My sisters and I were raised by our grandparents. I first got involved with gangs when I was 13 years old – it was shortly after my grandfather passed away. We were the only guys in the family, so maybe I was looking for that connection. One thing led to the next, and I was incarcerated at 17 years old.

My first experience of housing insecurity came 15 years later right after being released. I joined a transitional living facility. The hardest part about the living situation was the restrictions – for the first few weeks I wasn’t able to have a cell phone, all visitors were restricted except for family, and I had to get approval for leaving the home. I was finally in the free world – I didn’t want restrictions. I was encouraged to give myself space to unwind after being locked up. In some ways, it was nice because I didn’t need to worry about paying for housing for six months. This relieved the pressure of needing to find a job right away and gave me time to focus on myself. I needed time to secure basic documents like a birth certificate, social security card, and driver’s license. I didn’t have any of those.

Growing up, I rejected any new experience because I didn’t feel comfortable. This was the easy thing to do, and the thing I was familiar with. As my release date got closer, I made a commitment to myself to embrace new opportunities that came my way, even if they made me feel uncomfortable. Ultimately, that’s why I joined Rise Up Industries.

My parole officer introduced me to Rise Up, and I’ve been here now for five months. I’m so grateful for this supportive environment I’ve found. Wendy, our case manager, has this motherly aura about her. She’s been an amazing support. Darren, the shop supervisor, is on the floor with me in the machine shop, helping me learn the skills. I look up to Mike a lot because he also went through the program and is now on Rise Up’s permanent staff. Like Mike, I’m studying Sociology at SDSU in the evenings and want to invest back into my community’s kids. And finally, Janet, our therapist. Therapy was frowned upon in my community growing up, so this is my first experience with it. It’s great to have the opportunity to connect with Janet weekly and have that support.

 

FEBRUARY 2024: Colin

Colin is a Reentry Program member who joined the program in the Fall of 2022. Since then, he’s grown exponentially. Colin talks about regaining his sense of purpose and forming deep and meaningful relationships with staff and program members alike. Colin is preparing to graduate this April. Before he finishes, he wanted to share part of his story with you.

My parents instilled strong morals and values in me at a young age. Growing up in Point Loma, I was the “popular” surfer guy, very athletic. Everything was smooth sailing until I got into a serious bike accident at 16 years old. The severity of the accident led to me being in a coma for two weeks. 

This accident was a pivotal point in my life. Upon waking from the coma, I had serious brain damage, I lost all of my muscle mass and weighed 113 pounds. I completely lost any sense of who I was. The doctor said that I could have a seizure and die at any moment. This triggered my new life motto of living for the moment regardless of the consequences. As I started to make poor choices, I began to attract negative influences. Eventually, this led to my incarceration. 

Going to jail was one of the best things that could’ve happened to me. This was another pivotal moment in my life. I realized while in prison that I had enough of doing the things I was doing. I got sober while incarcerated. I decided that moving forward, I wanted to be a consistent person. Once released, I had a couple of years of sobriety under my belt but I enrolled in a rehab program anyway at the request of my parole officer. One day another man in the program was going on and on about how cool this program at Rise Up Industries was. I decided that once I finished the rehab program, I was going to join. 

At first, I joined the Reentry Program just as a means to an end. But over time, I’ve realized how much this program has changed my life. Being a part of Rise Up helped me connect back to a piece of myself I thought I had lost in that bike accident. Something unique about Rise Up is that they actually care about your personal wellbeing. Being at Rise Up has built my self-confidence. Since I am going to graduate from the program soon, I have been taking part in job interviews. I feel confident in all that I have learned. This helps me feel good about asking for the wage I deserve instead of just accepting whatever is offered to me.

If you would look back at the person I was before starting this program, I have completely changed. I am in my third semester at City College, I have raised my credit score 200 points, and I already have a full-time job offer before even graduating. I am so thankful to have been a part of this program.