Carlos Meets Carlos


The moment I saw Carlos coming across the Wear Gloves campus I thought, now here’s a cool guy.  His confident stride was succinct with a humble and kind demeanor.  As Carlos introduced himself, there was an immediate relaxed flow in our conversation; though I could sense he was uncertain what exactly to share.  We simply started with speaking about his time here at Wear Gloves.  Carlos began his journey at Wear Gloves working 1 day a week in the Dignity Center.  He eventually worked his way to litter crew, working part-time 5 days a week.  As his hard work was noticed and more hours were available, he was able to increase his time.
Carlos has battled with anxiety over the years. 
His sobriety journey started with the loss of his brother-in-law.  It was only about a month after his brother-in-law’s passing from a drug overdose that Carlos decided he was ready for change. 
It was a struggle, but once sober, Carlos began to realize he didn’t really know who he was.  He secluded himself to break bonds with people from his old life and past habits.  He recalled spending so much time “getting high my whole life, I never thought about anything else.”  Being sober gave him some clarity and space to begin thinking about, in his words, “what I wanted to be.”  The 2 years he spent alone gave him a chance to find himself.  To grow.  To read.  To find some hobbies; gardening and surfing are at the top of his list.   His sobriety has given him the opportunity to find himself.  “Being sober allowed me to focus on myself and do stuff I needed to do. I have insurance now, and Mr. Ken gave me his old van.  I haven’t had a vehicle in years.”
Carlos is excited about his plans to renovate the van into a camper van.  I can see him now with his surf board on top his camper van enjoying the life he is working so diligently and humbly to build.

He recalled a turning point after about a year and half, when everything was going well, but he was still battling with anxiety, “I wasn’t comfortable with myself.”  It was around that time Mr. Ken came to him with an opportunity.  “He came to me to ask if I could be a supervisor”, as Carlos paused and then continued, “I thought there was no possible way I could do it…the talking to people and being myself.  I knew I could do the job.  I was just worried about being myself.”
He felt like he still had not found himself without his addiction.  Turns out, that was the best thing for Carlos. 
“The more I push myself out of my comfort zone the better it gets….I just seem to adapt.  I really enjoy it”, he said with slight surprise.  “Every day I feel better and better.  I thought I was already better.  But every day I feel better and better.”  

Carlos doubted he would ever be where he is today. “I never thought I was going to get better because I was in a hole for such a long time.”  Leading a team and having people look to him for direction boosts his confidence a little more each day.  The trust that has been placed in him has enabled him to drive past some of his insecurities and see his true potential.  “It’s amazing for me”, he stated, “I trust Ken and Wendy, they are good people.”
Carlos has some big goals.  He’s exploring opportunities as a lineman or electrician.  He admits his journey has been a long one, but he feels confident in his future.  He can lend a hand and help others that come to Wear Gloves, uncertain and uneasy about making a change.  He recognizes one of his main jobs now is being there for new people taking brave steps.  He can relate to walking into the unknown, feeling unknown to others and to oneself.

I’m still not certain Carlos recognizes it yet or not, but his greatest impact on campus just might be the new faces that see his journey and glean hope that restoration is possible.  He’s making ripples with each step towards better.

Tiffany TuckerCarlos Meets Carlos
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Nick – My Story is My Strength


Not all broken roads come from rocky starts.  Nick comes from a beautiful family and experienced a childhood lacking very little.  He recalls quite fondly the love and security he felt as a child.  It wasn’t until his teen years that he began looking to bad influences for a mold to build his identity around.  As involved as his parents were in trying to redirect and encourage him to make better choices, Nick found himself  choosing life with his buddies. A life laying on the streets over the comforts of his own bed in a loving environment.  A life with role models living up to a Scarface persona in an era where having a street hustle was a measurement of manhood. Nick found himself fitting in well on the streets and making friends easily.  Though maybe not with the right connections, his likeable personality made  it easy to find jobs.  He did however find it was difficult to keep legitimate employment due to his drug use.  It was in his teen years that he first began playing around with marijuana.  “It started out as a joke”, he sighed, recalling how quickly it led to so many other very serious addictions and realities.
Nick very soberly admits, “the choices I made were mine, nobody else chose for me.”  He recalled, “I thought that I had to act a certain way to be the person I thought I wanted to be….I didn’t know what truth was”.
When he was 26 he decided to take his chances with a brick wall going 105 mph, assuming he would lose the battle.  Something or someone must have known “his story would be his strength” all these years later.  Though it took him to his mid 40s, as he states, “to be sick and tired of being sick and tired”, Nick has turned the years of bad choices and repeated broken cycles into a true testament of what can happen when you grasp hold of the true identity you have in Christ.
At 51 when he was diagnosed with throat cancer, he didn’t realize everything that was still in store for him.  Losing the ability to speak was never where he would have imagined himself. 
But, it wasn’t until just a couple years ago, when a simple request from one of his physicians changed everything.  His doctor asked if he’d like to pray with him and though nothing about Nick’s outer circumstances changed something inside him has forever been changed.  “It woke me up to everything and how blessed I really was”, he said.  A short six months after he was presented with an opportunity to undergo a special procedure that could give him a chance to speak again.  As he jokingly shared, “and I haven’t shut up since.”
Today, Nick works in the parts warehouse at the Dignity Center.  He recalls that since the day he came in and Mrs. Sandy prayed with him, “My day starts and ends with a prayer.”  Coming up on 2 years of sobriety, he remains grateful for, “being given lots of chances” and the ability to learn things along the way.  “It’s not easy, but I’m blessed.  I get to share life with my mother”, he said with gratitude in his voice.  “Walking in these doors was a miracle”, he recalled.  There is support around him and opportunity to work and help support others in his life.  He boasts about being able to have a bank account and having the ability to help his mother.  Recently he lost his brother, but even through that loss he found comfort in being able to be there for his mom like she always was for him.  He planted a tree in her front yard as a memory to his brother.
 “I can’t complain, I have my own place, vehicle, best friends and this community,” he stated humbly but with confidence, “I just can’t believe where I am today.”  When asked why he stays at Wear Gloves, “This place is amazing…they’ll give you a chance.  I haven’t had a single limitation based on my medical condition.  Not everyone was willing to give me a chance you know, like I’ve been around a while and don’t know any places like this.”  Thoughtfully he stated, “The church services are just icing on the cake.  They broke the mold with Mr. Ken too.” 

If you ever visit Wear Gloves and have the opportunity, go meet Nick.  His story truly is his strength, and meeting him will revive your hope in second chances and God’s ability to meet you where you are.
However, just remember that if its lunchtime, you’ll find him at the table not the warehouse.  Nick is quick to admit he’s at his best when he’s fed.  If only all of us would come to the table with as much honesty and openness as Nick, we may all find ourselves a little closer to our best.

Tiffany TuckerNick – My Story is My Strength
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