Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Roach Motel

It's Wild Ride Wednesday. Our journey has taken me places I could never have imagined I would go. Here's the story of my first visit to one such place.

I turned left on G Street. Fresno residents would agree—this was a VERY undesirable part of town.

I'd been down there before. I’d had the opportunity to minister to homeless men at the Fresno Rescue Mission located on G just south of Ventura.

It wasn't the Mission, however, that drew me to the dark, filthy, drug infested neighborhood down on G Street—it was my son.

My oldest child was home from prison and was on parole. Well, he wasn’t actually at home since the great California Parole System—in their wisdom—decided he shouldn't live with us. I won't even discuss the rationale behind their decision, as it was in fact irrational, but it was our reality.

In order to deliver a few bags of groceries to my hungry son, I drove past the rescue mission, and past drunk and sick men and women pushing shopping carts filled with junk and trash. I continued past the little village known as "tent city"—shanties built from discarded camping tents, garbage bags, and building scraps.

I finally arrived at the small, roach infested motel that the state parole system had demanded my son call home.

The tiny room was even worse than I expected it would be.

I opened the paper-thin door and saw the bed to the left. My son pulled back a stained and shredded blanket to reveal holes in the bottom sheet—holes clearly created by repeated stabbings with a small knife. A worn, splintering cabinet stood precariously near the foot of the bed and cradled a barely working television set with a 15-inch screen.

Where was the hope?

A newly paroled young man who wanted to turn his life around was put in the darkest part of town, surrounded by drug addicts, alcoholics, hookers, and the mentally deranged. He was forced to spend a minimum of 14 hours a day in that hole. The prison system expected him to find a job and stay out of trouble.

They told Dallas to believe in himself and his future. That seemed like an impossible task in that dark and hopeless place.

More than three years have come and gone since that first sad visit to my newly paroled son. Dallas showed amazing strength and courage. He never stopped believing in himself and his future. He lives at home now—a totally free man.

Though G Street seems a million miles from here, its residents are in my heart and in my prayers.

1 comment:

  1. Elizabeth, thanks for being a Facebook follower of my blog! I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to join the conversation anytime. I always enjoy interacting with readers.

    On the topic of this post, I've just read that research shows how our environment affects our behavior. Basically a "hopeless" or "evil" space like the Roach Motel will statistically make people worse off. I guess Dallas fought the stats!