An interview with a successful local businessman who wishes to remain anonymous by Frank Gayaldo
STOCKTON- “I was homeless for a short time when I was 14. After that I was arrested for trespassing in the abandoned house we were living in. I was sent to Juvenile Hall. I then was shuffled to group homes as I didn’t have parents that wanted me. I ran from the houses for years. I thought it was the “government” who was trying to keep me away from my parents. As a kid it’s hard to accept you aren’t wanted.
So yes, I can speak to you from experience. Yes, I was a homeless teen, and then again when I got released from prison at 24 where I did several years for what today would be considered minor drug charges. Busted with a small amount of marijuana and meth while riding a bicycle. They called it “transporting drugs”.
My parents simply didn’t want me. But I now realize I had it easy. Most were beaten, molested, sold, tortured. I mean yeah, I got beat, but some kids were disfigured from it. One kid was severely burnt on his privates by his own mother. Most people can’t imagine a life like that so they pretend it doesn’t happen. I wish I had that luxury.
We all did drugs to self-medicate. We all had PTSD, but didn’t even know what that was. We all grew up being told we were trash, until we started to believe them. It’s the same for 75% of the people out there. It all starts in their youth.
I spent time living under a bridge. Food not Bombs fed us on Sundays at the park by the train station. The shelter did breakfast, bag lunch and dinner. Salvation Army vouchers every 6 months. Bamboo groves are the best place to hide your property, as the city can come take the little you have to your name the first time you walk away from it, even if you just left to get some food. Convenience stores are the best place to dumpster dive. You can get warm hotdogs a few times a day as long as the employees are rotating the hot food like they are supposed to do. If you’re smart, you take a cheap class at the university like guitar so you can get a student ID and shower at their gym.
I went on a mission a couple months ago to find all my teen homeless friends. Just found out my former girlfriend overdosed. That’s why she stopped writing. They’re all dead.
Well, not all. Out of eighteen, only five are still alive including me. Out of the five, only me and one other are no longer homeless.
I have gone into houses and sold strung out moms drugs while kids ran around dirty and in full diapers. I took their food stamps for fifty cents on the dollar. I’m now trying to right my wrongs. I hope getting my story out somehow helps someone else.
But people should know it’s not a housing crisis. Most of these people wouldn’t keep a job, much less a house, if given one. I have tried multiple times to help get people off the street. It takes more than a job. It takes reprogramming. Like the fact that prisons have literally no reform programs and all we do is play handball and clean the place. There used to be programs originally in Tracy like welding and small engine repair. Those were all taken out years ago. No reform. It doesn’t guarantee the union guards jobs if they aren’t returning. Six years and all I learned was how to play Pinochle.
Today I live in Stockton in an affluent area. I own several properties in three different counties. I own several businesses. I don’t mind talking about my past when I know people, but being homeless and doing drugs is not what I am, and that’s not what made me. My kids go to private schools here. My clients are here.
Being abandoned as a kid isn’t something I want pity over. Then again, maybe if i had a family to back me up I wouldn’t feel the need to work so hard today.
Sometimes I feel like water being poured through a straw with no bottom. No matter how much people tell me I have succeeded, I tend to feel empty. I just don’t use it as an excuse like most people do”.
Wow that was deep. congratulations on turning yr life around.i ( olivia) come frome very similar background n turned my life around and God gave me a compassion for the addict n the homelss from my experiences. I should write a book ive beem through so much and survived to tell it.
This is a great and sad story. A story I’ve heard before and parts of which I know personally. All of my cousins on my paternal side grew up in foster care, most are addicts now or dead – as are all of their parents, including my biological father who took his own life in 2007 after years of substance abuse. I was just lucky to have my mom who worked hard and managed to squeak out a living working 3 jobs. My brother and I were basically on our own while she worked, I was 9 and he was 7.
Even still, by age 13 I was a runaway and getting picked up by the police. I was using drugs and alcohol by the summer between junior high and high school. High school was even more drugs and parties. I walked around with a big chip on my shoulder, I would fight with anyone at any time. Some of my friends said that I had a death wish. By some miracle, and after being hospitalized with pneumonia, I decided to get clean. My step aunt helped me bet a job at a bank, and I started a successful career in finance. I got lucky.
Foster care is one of the most broken institutions in the country. My husband and I were in the process of getting a home study for an ICWA foster/adoption (I’m Native American) for a year and the state changed the credentialing process, so now they can’t give home studies until they meet the new requirements. At this point we have decided to move to NV due to the political and social problems that continue to plague this state. We will start the foster/adoption process all over in 2021.
I’m hoping that 2020 will bring about great changes in this state. If only more people stand up with stories of truth like this story.
Thank you..on point..may your story influence the political arena on giving a window to reform. REPROGRAMMING IS KEY!!
Many kudos to you Sir. It takes desire and motivation to pull yourself out of the depths of the only childhood habits you ever knew. You are an inspiration for sure. God be with you always and allow you to feel all that you have become…a wonderful and successful man.
Wow what a great story you should be proud to state your name and serve as an inspiration to other children who are going through similar issues
I understand the empty feeling that never goes away. No matter how full your life is. Something is missing. I too try helping homeless folks. I just through my own stupidity I suppose, gave away things I saved for one man, to the wrong man. I asked if he was kc and had he been waiting on me.. I was late I was acros the street buying him a meal. We watched as he went through dumpsters and cans. And saw him picking up butts I was happy to at least know he would be full and warm tonight. The next day I messaged him in a group and asked did you stay warm last night he said no. I gave the stuff to the wrong man. At first I was upset. But after reading your post… I’m going to make him a good lunch meal, snacks, supplies, baby wipes, I think of some things, I have another blanket. I just hope we come up with a plan to really find him… I wish I could help everybody but I cant. I was tossed out at night with my brother. We were 4 and 5. He would take care of us in the dark. We found places and cars that were not locked. In the 60s that was easy. When the milk man came we would get the milk before the home owners. Other goodies even. We thought eating a stick of butter was a big treat. Especially if we had packs of sugar to mourn on it. I’m going to try again to make the right guy warm, full in his tummy and maybe a few other things he could use. Help me fill that emptiness. Thank you for your email. It helped me turn a negative attitude into a great one.
I apologize for all the people who hurt and caused you pain. For they do not know what they do!
Thank you for your share