“Right now,” Michael Sepulveda said, “I’m drinking a lot of water.” Laughing as he heard himself say that, he added, “I never would have thought I’d care at all about water. But it is really important to me now. I stay hydrated. And I make sure that the water I drink is pure and clean. I can’t just drink any tap water. What I put inside myself now really matters to me. Before, I couldn’t have cared less.”
Michael, who grew up in Jesey City, came to The Mission through Recovery Court. “I’d been in three programs before. None of them clicked. But this was the right place, at the right time. The counselors were all very open and compassionate. And they helped me to open up. And to dig deeper inside myself. And to share what I was discovering about myself. I never did that before.”
He added, “They literally helped me to get my life in order – including getting my birth certificate, social security, a driver’s license, health care, dental work, new glasses, vocational development, building credit and develop a plan for making payments on debts and bills I owe.”
Michael was also accepted into The New Direction Program, a transformative course developed at The Mission to prepare formerly incarcerated individuals to see their real potential, and to create a plan for their future – with an emphasis on training, educational and career opportunities. Inspired by a talented faculty, including formerly incarcerated individuals who have gone on to succeed, Michael said, “I learned to believe in myself in this program, and to connect more deeply with others who were in recovery.” In addition to working on air conditioning and heating units at Trane, Michael is now studying to get his CDL license.
“I was shown that I am much better than I ever thought I was,” Michael said. “I learned about goal setting and time management, which was huge for me. So, my life is no longer chaos and avoidance.”
Having completed his recovery program at The Mission, Michael is now living with four other graduates of The New Direction Program in a house owned by The Mission. “We all have our own peace of mind,” he said. “Everybody is there for each other. While we’re all on different schedules, we all know each other’s schedules and work situations. What we have in common is that we all want positive change. Permanent change. The main rule was that we all had to agree on why we were there – which is to be there for each other in our recovery.”
In addition to following his recovery plan, working his full-time job, going to school, spending time with his children, going to the gym, then just eating and sleeping, “the only other thing I have time for now is making sure I drink enough water that is pure and clean,” he said, taking a sip from a huge bottle that he now carries around with him all the time.