StandUp for Kids – Orange County
Born in Santa Ana and raised in Anaheim, Jeffrey’s life has been one of struggle – but also persistence. Growing up, he and his four siblings went from the care of their abusive mother to their abusive stepfather, and were eventually taken in by Jeffrey’s biological father. But far from being a loving home, it was clear that their presence was only valued for the government aid and food stamps they brought the household.
Around this time, Jeffrey began hanging out with local gang members and getting into trouble: his friends introduced him to weed and alcohol at age twelve. Lacking affection and affirmation from his parents, Jeffrey was overwhelmed by insecurity and turned to drugs for the happiness and laughter he saw it bring to others. Without it, he felt like an easy target to other kids; but while high, he was able to escape his worries over what others thought of him. Looking back now, Jeffrey says “It felt like I was living multiple lives in one body.”
Tiring of living with his father, Jeffrey began living on the streets at fourteen, turning to harder drugs to chase those feelings of happiness and self-confidence. But living on the streets took its toll – he was violently attacked twice, and only continued to fall farther into addiction. Cycling between the streets and juvenile detention, Jeffrey got used to living in the system, and even looked forward to juvie – at least there, he knew he would find food, a shower, and a place to sleep. It was there that he met his therapist, who became one of the most important people in his life: someone he could talk to about the best and worst parts of his life.
On July 4th, 2020, Jeffrey made the decision to become sober. Reflecting on himself and his motivations, he came to the realization that drugs were no longer giving him what he wanted; he was even beginning to fear the impact of the paranoia and hallucinations they caused. So he reached out to his therapist, who recommended multiple programs – including StandUp for Kids.
Knowing that he would need a support system in order to turn his life around, Jeffrey has been with StandUp for Kids ever since. After a quick interview, Jeffrey was able to enter the housing program within a week. Through the mentorship program, he met Diane, who – despite vastly different backgrounds – has become one of the few people he truly trusts. Her mentorship has provided helpful insight and new perspective, as well as simply having someone who understands.
Jeffrey is now in a sober living house in Anaheim, which has given him the stability to work towards the life he is seeking. He’s become a regular attendee and vocal participant at AA meetings, claiming that it’s boring to just sit and listen – so he tells his story and talks about his feelings, hoping others will be helped in their own struggles. Although he’s come a long way, he knows there is still work to be done; he plans to finish the 12 Steps and make his wrongs into rights with those he has hurt in the past. Jeffrey has also found work at Chrysalis, an employment resource center, and is looking forward to getting his driver’s license. He has already saved up enough money for car: an achievement he is very proud of. In the future, he hopes to find a job where he can help at-risk youth like himself persevere through challenges and thrive.