Born in Spiro, Oklahoma, Paul Ray came from a large family and was the youngest of 7. His Father was the Vice-President for Arco oil & gas and when Paul was 2 years old, he and his family relocated to Santa Barbara, California. Paul was always a good student with a good grade point average but like most curious kids, tried marijuana for the first time when he was around 12 years old. Shortly after smoking his first joint that his friend brought to school, he couldn’t breathe and was rushed to the hospital. It turned out Paul was allergic to marijuana. “I should have known then to stay away from drugs”, he says. Unfortunately, Paul’s drug addiction didn’t stop there.
After High School, Paul got hired on as a Firefighter Paramedic for Santa Barbara County. However, in 1993, his life took a wrong turn. Paul got busted for the distribution and sales of methamphetamine and spent several days in jail. He lost his job and began to sell drugs full time as an income and continued to use drugs & alcohol himself. In 1995, Paul’s Grandfather got really sick. Paul was very close to his Grandfather and remembers the last conversation he had with him. He said, “Paul, you’re going to kill yourself”, and Paul lied and said “Grandpa, I’m clean”, although he had just taken drugs minutes prior. The Grandpa’s last words to Paul were, “Grandparents shouldn’t bury their grand kids.” Two hours later, Paul’s Grandfather passed away.
Paul’s Grandfather’s memorial service was the day that Paul decided to stop using drugs once and for all. However, his past soon caught up with him. While Paul was selling drugs, he messed around with the wrong people and ended up in debt to them. Because he didn’t have the money to pay them back, they ended up shooting at his sister’s house in Bakersfield. That’s when Paul knew he needed a change and moved to Los Angeles. Paul had no family here and became homeless, sleeping behind a shrub at a park in Hollywood. One day, some people were there feeding the community and recommended that he go to a shelter in downtown Los Angeles. Soon after, Paul moved into a shelter close to The Midnight Mission, where he was saving up all his General Relief money orders to try to get ahead. Unfortunately one day someone stole all of his money orders from his belongings at the shelter. When he went to the police to file a report, they said that there was nothing they could do and accused him of being high and spending the money on drugs. This is when Paul decided to look into The Midnight Mission, which he kept hearing great things about.
After being in the Healthy Living Program at The Midnight Mission for a year, Paul was hired on as an HR assistant. However, The Midnight Mission’s President Larry Adamson, believed that Paul could do something greater and sent him to UCLA, where he became an HR specialist. Paul thanks Larry for believing in him. “Staying sober wasn’t a problem for me. It was keeping a roof over my head and The Midnight Mission provided me that and the opportunity to advance in my career path.”
Paul is now a Database administrator for The Midnight Mission and has remained clean and sober for 20 years. He wants addicts who struggle with their recovery to know, “Hope is not lost. Even in the deepest, darkest recesses of your addiction or your problems, there’s always a solution. You just need to ask for help.”
If you or someone you love needs help please visit us at www.midnightmission.org to learn about our programs.
Written by: Rachael Martinez