City of residence: Hitchcock
Occupation: Volunteer behavioral recovery coach and community outreach coordinator for Texas Health and Human Services, Galveston County, Recovery Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC)
In what ways are you involved with the community?
In general, as a humanitarian volunteer, I work directly with organizations that help people living in crisis situations find the urgent care and assistance they need, which may include transitional living and safe houses for women and children of domestic violence, food pantry, non-insured coverage for medication, substance-use addiction, suicide prevention, transportation to appointments, employment, free legal services, displaced individuals and so much more.
We believe that in order to build a better society we must help build better people by reintroducing them back into society with a helping hand, and also creating educational opportunities for children who are undoubtedly, all of our future. Let’s start there with prevention. It still takes a village, and always will. We promote community accountability and responsibility.
My team of ROSC officers and members meet together monthly, along with many Galveston County, federally qualified, 501(c)(3) non-profit and private sector agencies and organizations. We also are a body of citizen volunteer advocates and activists. We are resource information disseminators. Our meetings are a unified gathering for exchanges of resource information. We serve as a networking operation.
We are aware that we can no longer “solely” depend on our government officials to do all that is necessary to heal our communities and advance our society without the intervention of citizen volunteers, elected officials, public servants and professionals working together.
What do you like most about serving the community?
Giving back, after taking for so long. Most of all things is the opportunity to give back to my community and to my family after so many years of being lost in emotional confusion and uncertainty. The root of fear and anger caused by negative environments too often prevents healthy emotional development.
As a result of overcoming said adversities, I have acquired an applicable amount of wisdom and knowledge that for me, and others like me, likely could not have been achieved any other way. Even the state of Texas now recognizes that, although we need academic behavioral science, it has been shown that one crisis survivor can best help another crisis survivor by gaining their trust with experienced understanding.
What motivates you to get involved in your community?
There is nothing more motivating than when a person, senior, veteran or child who has never known, or cannot recall knowing, feelings of safety, protection, being cared for and loved, to change dramatically over a period of time and sometimes instantaneously, right before your own eyes. You have to experience it for yourself. Lots of tears of sorrow and lots of tears of joy.
More than the forgiveness of our abusers is the forgiveness of ourselves. Because in so many cases and for so long we believed falsely that we were the cause of the harm being inflicted upon us. Or else why would it be happening? It is reason and purpose that make up our identity.
I ran away from home at the age of 15, from being exposed to an unhealthy and harmful home life; therefore, I had no common opportunities to seek out an academic education. And although street life is dangerous to teens, if seen with a silver lining, and if survived, it is a life education all of its own. Not that I would ever suggest it. But I am stronger than ever and can be a fearless advocate for those who cannot, or feel as if they cannot do so for themselves. I ceased being a victim years ago.
It isn't just about academic accomplishments. Today we now have certifiable classes and training courses where you can build credibility that allows me to participate with professionals and institutions. What better way to make trauma a useful tool for implementing success?
What does it mean to be named a finalist for Citizen of the Year?
Everything! It will take me to new heights of recognition that will most definitely help our organization continue to flourish. Plus, it would be another highlight of my life, just as it was when I won the Volunteer of the Year award in 2021 from the Hitchcock Chamber of Commerce. That was two years ago at age 58, and it was pure joy having the confirmation that I must be doing the right thing. I have earned many certificates, but that was my very first trophy!
When I responded to my nomination for which I was an extremely honored to have received, and I wish I knew who it was, I had no realistic expectations to win when there must be hundreds of other well-known and established, public figures and volunteers doing great work for a much longer period of time than me.
However, what I had daydreamed about was the possibility of making the top 20 nominees. Even then it seemed out of reach considering so many other influential people. But I did it! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Yes, I am on cloud nine as we speak. I guess that sums that up.
Why do you think it’s important to give back to the community?
I am, myself, am a successful substance use addiction survivor, and I cannot keep my amazing, spiritual freedom, that I have been given through grace, without giving it all away willingly, to those who endure their own personal darkness as I once did.
This is not only important, but it is my responsibility. It is a free will choice, yes, but not a choice for me. I must give back; I eagerly want to give back. Why would I not want to give back and pass on this healing? Giving is unconditionally without expectations of anything in return, but there are rewards. And they do come, but they are not sought after. They are fulfillment. And they are given by others with thank-yous and God bless you.
If you could go back in time and do one thing over, what would that be?
Oh Lord, not much to do again understandably. lol. But I am grateful for the enlightenment and awareness. But to do it all over again? No way!
On the other hand, if it were a wrongful thing, I would do what is right, to prevent from doing the wrong thing.
If I were to say, one thing to do over again that was wonderful. Then I imagine that it would be when as a runaway in the late ’70s and at 15 whereupon my escape from anarchy at home, I had left Texas to hitchhike to San Francisco, California, in search of identity and liberation as an oppressed adolescent.
Yes, it was a very dangerous period of time with predators everywhere, but hitchhikers from all over Europe and also here in the states were commonplace at that time.
The yearning for freedom overshadows most all fears. And being young and feeling invincible helped, too. There was no turning back to where I so desperately wanted to get away from.
Long story short, when I arrived, finally, and I had crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to then suddenly feel like Dorothy of Kansas walking through the black and white threshold and into technicolor.
Coming from the small town of Hitchcock, it all looked liked Oz to me. All the busy bright lights, many sounds and noises, all happening at once as the odd characters and night creatures were prowling on the main boulevard.
It was magical, and so exciting until, that is, the magic ran out. Another story for another time.
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
Ummmm? Not much really. I tend to be an open book. I am always eager to share my stories when I am asked to speak at an event or gathering. I am a gay man, and I am open about it, but I do not intentionally advertise the fact either. Some people know or assume immediately while others may have been surprised to discover before the subject had come up.
I suppose I am willing to talk about any aspect of my life, upon being asked. It's not difficult to be an open book when it's beneficial to others seeking recovery. Frankly, I love to share and talk about myself! As for my dark past, who could use it against me? Unless they know something that I didn’t know about myself. Kinda hard to do when I wrote the book.
Most things that people do not know about me is that through my 45-year ventures as a rolling stone all over the United States, through the decades, is that I have been present at or have participated in several historical moments in our nation as an activist.
I really do not think to talk about relevant events to say the least, as there are so many other things occupying my time these days. And an hour or two at a speaker meeting is still not enough time to paint a colorful canvas worthy of a good tall tale. Yes, I have been prompted to write a book, but I am not much of an author. I’m more comfortable being a storyteller, despite that I feel contient as an amateur creative writer.
I have about 12 guest column submissions in The Galveston County Daily News archives, but they are spontaneous and opinionated subjects of interest.
But I was marching for humanitarian rights back in the day, the AIDS/HIV epidemic, and in annual remembrance marches, observing the Manhattan Stonewall Riots.
I was in San Fransisco when the first openly gay councilman, Harvey Milk, was assassinated. I was an activist against the Jerry Falwell and Anita Bryant antigay campaigns. I was there when now Sen. Dianne Feinstein was only the mayor.
I was in New York and Washington, D.C., during the Reagan administration protesting against anti-apartheid and the nuclear arms deal. Not many people know these things about me.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Wow! Just one? Oh man. If I had the difficult choice to choose only one, it is the renown quote mostly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: "Be the change, that you seek."
On the record, the closest thing Gandhi ever said that can be loosely attributed to that quote is “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.
“As a man or woman changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him or her. ... We need not wait to see what others do.”
If I were to sum up this message, I interpret it as follows: Do not give away your serenity by attempting to change the world and people.
The world and people have not ever changed. Things get different, they become more or less, for better or worse, new and old and new again. The only thing in this world that I can change is me. My perspectives, my perceptions, my attitudes, my actions and how I react and respond to it all. If you seek peace, you may likely find it in the middle of chaos. So we are in chaos now. What do we do? We do differently and we do better.
Welcome to the discussion.
Internet forum rules ...
Real names required. No pseudonyms or partial names allowed. Stand behind what you post.
Keep it clean. Don't use obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be brief. Keep posts to 150 words or less.
Edit yourself. No more than two posts per thread and stay on topic. Do not link to sites outside galvnews.com.
Be aware. All posts are property of The Daily News and may be republished in print.
Be proactive. Use the "Report" link on each comment to let us know of rule violations.