“Without the care and support I received from the Food Bank’s member agencies, I wouldn’t be here today. Thank you for the food, for my body and my spirit.”
Jamie grew up in South Central Los Angeles. With his mother, a single parent, working several jobs to make ends meet, and undiagnosed mental illness, Jamie turned to the only available companions: drug dealers and gang members in his neighborhood. He started using and selling drugs as a teenager and spent several years going in and out of jail. He became homeless. To make ends meet and support his drug and alcohol habits, Jamie panhandled and committed petty crimes.
After being treated at a hospital for a near fatal stab wound, Jamie spent several weeks struggling to survive on the streets. “I was so weak, and so hungry that I was willing to do anything for a hot meal and a warm bed.” He stumbled into a meal program at one of Westside Food Bank’s member agencies. “I came to a realization. I knew I was going to die, sick and alone unless I got some help.”
The staff helped Jamie check in to a recovery program where he was given nutritious foods to bring his body back to health and treatment to overcome his addictions. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began to receive treatment through a dual diagnosis program. Jamie spent 2 years at a sober living facility where he earned his GED, learned valuable job skills and enjoyed three square meals each day. He continues to receive treatment for his mental illness and is studying social work so that he can help others from his community lift themselves out of desperation and addiction. “Without the care and support I received from the Food Bank’s member agencies, I wouldn’t be here today. Thank you for the food, for my body and my spirit.”