StandUp for Kids - Orange County
RJ in his new home
RJ was taken from his birth mother and placed into foster care at a young age. Although he was adopted by two parents with other adopted siblings, it was not a loving environment to grow up in – his home never felt like a home, and feelings of isolation and loneliness were pervasive.
At 17, RJ was failing his senior year of high school; so he left Arizona for California. He put himself back into high school in Huntington Beach, determined to push through to achieve his high school diploma. He lived with a friend while attending high school; but it wasn’t a good place for him, and as his substance abuse worsened, he resorted to living on the streets. He managed to enroll at Golden West College, but his homelessness still presented an obstacle.
RJ started turning his life around when he found StandUp for Kids through a counselor at Golden West College. He'd been sleeping outside a friend's house and showering on campus. StandUp for Kids housed RJ in a sober transitional facility, where he was held accountable and taught about the importance of sobriety. He learned to use meditation when he felt like escaping with drugs. Finally, RJ was getting the help he craved and knew he needed.
Talking with RJ, it is undeniable that he is focusing only on the positive. He currently maintains a stable job caring for animals with disabilities. With his future in mind, he started attending school again in hopes of graduating with a music degree. One of his short-term goals is to start a small clothing brand called "YNG," short for "You and Greatness." RJ is heading for stability and self-sufficiency.
Since joining StandUp for Kids in March, RJ feels his mentors give him patience, love, guidance, and the attention he has lived his whole life without. "Before I would use and think I'm okay when I used. I didn't trust people and looked at them as enemies. StandUp for Kids was able to help me build back my character traits and a sense of trust. They help me feel better and help me remove many of the negative actions I used to do. It's like a new life," RJ explained.
RJ receiving food and housing supplies from Denise through the We Deliver program
RJ has been sober for a little over five months. He has many goals in life, and is taking steps in the right direction to achieve those goals. He believes that if he can get through adversity, others can too. RJ's purpose in life is to leave something behind. With his positive attitude and his perseverance, there is no doubt that he will do just that.