Julio knew that he needed to change his life for his newborn daughter.Now Julio is clean, has custody of his daughter, and has served ONE MILLION meals as the Mission’s Food Service Director! Raised in Puerto Rico, Julio quickly became engulfed in the drug culture. His hardworking nature made him a valuable asset to those around him. He was even sent to America in order to expand the “business.” After two months in Brooklyn, New York, Julio decided that he wanted to get out of this dangerous lifestyle, so he moved to Connecticut to live with his sister.
Unfortunately, addiction took hold of his life. For the next twenty years, Julio struggled with his substance abuse. Although he tried almost thirty rehab programs, they never helped him overcome his addiction. Julio now realizes that they didn’t work because he couldn’t face addiction alone.
After years without a glimmer of hope, things started looking up for Julio. He fell in love and soon had a child on the way. But as his girlfriend’s due date approached, Julio sought relief in the only way he knew: substance abuse. In order to protect his family, Julio left with the conviction that he would conquer his addiction before he met his child.
Months passed but Julio had not made any progress towards recovery. In a hotel room in Florida with only one hundred dollars left to his name, Julio was desperate. He recalls: “Everybody was celebrating with their families and I realized how alone I was. I cried that night and I was thinking ‘I‘ve been in prison, I’ve been in rehab, I’ve been in halfway houses. I tried to do it alone but nothing works. Lord, if you take this from me I promise you I will serve you to the end. I want to see my family and my daughter and You are the only one who can help me with this.’”
Even though Julio had no family in Philadelphia, he spent all of his money on a bus ticket to get there. Julio hadn’t eaten for days when a stranger pointed him towards Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission as a safe place to eat and sleep. Julio explains, “My plan was to stay here for a month and then go to a rehab. I had forgotten about my promise. I sat down in that chair in the Chaplains office and asked how long I could stay. He said, ‘Well, we have a program here which is one year. It is a Christian program.’ When he said that I started crying right there because I remembered the promise to serve God if he helped me get out. And I believe he brought me here.”
After one month in the program, Julio saw his nine-month-old daughter for the first time. That meeting gave him the strength to continue on for her. Julio felt guilty for spending time away from his daughter, but he knew that his decision to stay away until he was completely clean was the right choice.
Julio’s dedication and work ethic quickly distinguished him from the other Overcomers. He wasgiven the role of Crew Chief in the kitchen and thrived under this new responsibility. After only nine months, Julio graduated the Overcomer Program and was hired by Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission as a chef.
Nine years later, Julio has two daughters and tries to demonstrate compassion to his children and the individuals he serves. “My purpose is to see the potential in these guys and help them along. I am not a pastor or a counselor, but in my own way I show them how the Lord works in my life.”
Traditional addiction recovery programs had not worked for Julio, but eventually he found a place where he belonged and a reason to make the change. Julio continues to work towards being the best father possible for his children.