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JOE VASQUEZ
PASTOR/PROGRAM DIRECTOR

My experience with drug use began in 1959 at the age of 13, when I was introduced to marijuana, barbiturates, and drinking. I really liked getting high and going to school and parties. I came from a large family of ten (10) siblings. I loved playing sports, singing and learning to play the guitar. My drug usage began to get out of control, but I was barely able to graduate in 1963, that summer I was sentenced to juvenile camp. I was making bad choices and continued being arrested for alcohol and marijuana and being sentenced to short stays in the county jail.

One year I was able to complete probation and soon after picked up some felonies of possessions, but I had also been drafted by the Army. At this time I had already started crossing the border and bringing drugs to sell and began to use heroin and really didn't want to go anywhere. I finally decided to allow myself to go to the Army in 1966. I was married in 1967 of July. I was in Germany, so I had to take leave to the states to get married. After the Army I continued where I left off.  Six days later my wife gave me another son.

I was eventually sentenced to fight fires as I did as an juvenile. Not long after I was eventually arrested for burglaries and sentenced to California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) where I was in and out for nearly all of the 1970s. After five (5) times there, I was excluded for using drugs inside CRC and was sent to finish my time through the County Jail and was released in 1978.

During this time my wife had divorced me. I had ruined her life, even to the point that got her addicted and in 1976 after 9 years of marriage she filed for divorced me, which needless to say, crushed me. I had to act tough like nothing could hurt me, because I had a reputation to uphold. I eventually was arrested for armed robbery and plea bargained for 4 years plus 1 year for the use of a fire arm while committing a felony. During my state time I would go to chapel services to make drug transaction or to see the females that would come to minister to the inmates. I now realize that some of the things I heard in these services caused me to begin thinking and to look at my life for what it was and all the wrong decisions I had made. Most of all I had to admit that I was not the man I pretended to be, because if I was a real man why was some other man with my wife and raising my 3 sons whom I loved, while I was caged up like an animal. I asked God if he could change my life, I would give it to him.

My life changed that last year in prison. I was released October 1, 1980, I found a job, but slowly went back to drugs since I had no support team and I thought having one drink wouldn't hurt me. I found that all the people around me (family included) drank or used cocaine. I went back into drug use, minus the heroin, and the party life. I was arrested on misdemeanors, but manage to keep my job for 8 years and stay out of prison. I had even tried to reunite my family and once again, my drug use chased them away. In July 6, 1991 I was honest with myself, admitting I needed help. I was accepted into a recovery men's home, here in San Diego and began to get my life back. This home was a home that was based on having a relationship with God through Jesus. I began to grow as a man and take on responsibilities that normally I would run from. I graduated and went to work right away.

After 6 months of work I was asked if I would be willing to quit my job and become the home director. As the years went by my sons also surrendered their lives as I did and lastly my ex wife did the same. In 1997 we were married and have been for 16 years. Today I am the Program Director since 2006 /ordained pastor and my wife helps by making sure our kitchen runs in accordance with state regulations. I have been a voluntary chaplain for around 12 years, but due to health problems I haven't been going for a year and a half. There were times my wife would also go in with me to minister to the many men that need to find out that hope is there for anyone that wants it.

I recently went to Superior Court and was granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation. My next step is the actual pardon. In ending, I just want it to be known , that all the glory goes to God through Jesus. My wife and I are home owners and vote on every election we have. We are leaving a positive legacy filled with true life, purpose and direction. When I lost hope, my heart became sick and sorrowful, but when the desire to live came gushing in, my life and my attitude towards authority and learning took a turn to being able to receive from others.