Andre Patterson choked back tears as he told his story to the roomful of people at the Manteca Transit Center Thursday night.
He was a drug dealer who was addicted to meth and after an argument with his wife landed him in jail on a variety of charges, he was looking at 15 years in prison for the mistakes that he made when was out running the streets.
But it was when he learned that his wife and children had gone to live at a homeless shelter that he really broke down in tears – himself, at the time, undergoing a year-long stint at a Salvation Army recovery program that he agreed to in lieu of going to prison.
The story, however, has a happy ending.
That homeless shelter was ran by Hope Ministries – a which operates a pair of homeless shelters in Manteca for women and their children and families who don’t have anywhere else to go as well as a transitional living facility – and when Patterson finally did complete his year in rehab, he moved with his family to the Hope Family Shelter on Yosemite Avenue and began the long, slow road to getting his life back on track.
And he did.
With his wife by his side telling the story alongside him, Patterson stood in front of a roomful of donors at the organization’s first annual Donor Appreciation Night presented by Phil Waterford and Hope Family Shelters and talked not only about his struggles, but his redemption as well – the long streak that he’s been able to put together without drugs and how his time with the guidance of Hope Family Shelters and their allowing him to extend his family’s stay through a transitional housing program has allowed him to get things back on track.
The presentation drew a standing ovation from the crowd of local residents, volunteers, supporters, civic leaders and business owners who see value in the work that the organization provides to the less fortunate in the community and those struggling to get back on their feet after circumstances have left them nowhere else to turn.
It’s taking care of the least among us, according to Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers Team Chaplain Earl Smith that puts us in step with the way that we should be living our lives.
And during his comments to the crowd, Smith – who penned a book about being a chaplain to death row inmates at San Quentin – spoke about his own struggles and how he was one of the least among the population before he finally decided to turn his life around and dedicate it to the work of God.
Those in attendance, he said, were to there to change lives and noted that their support of faith-based programs like Hope Ministries and their outreach efforts will do just that.
“The thing about organizations like Hope Shelters is that while they can’t do everything, what they can do is more than significant,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, if you can say that you’ve had a part in something significant, you can rest a little bit better.
“When you come together for a cause like this the championship trophy that you have are the lives that you’re changing, so thank you for the championship trophies that you’re making tonight.”