Joaquin's Story

Paul & Joaquin
“I was kind of a smorgasbord type drug user. I did just about everything that was put in front of me.”

Paul & Joaquin

After Joaquin was born, Paul found the recovery program he needed to break free of addiction and be there for his son at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.

For the love of his son

Recovery from alcohol or drug addiction takes strength, qualified help, and faith. But for so many men and women who have found healing and new life, there are key turning points.

For Paul, they were joining the Mission’s recovery program AND the birth of his son, Joaquin.

“The Mission helped me grow in my faith,” Paul says. “I learned a lot about Jesus and the things that He wants for us in our lives. I always believed in God, but I never really had a relationship with Him. That was something I needed. That was a big thing for me. “And when I had my son, I had a motivation to do well for myself. Because me and my sister grew up with a hard life,” Paul says. “I had people all around me doing drugs.”

“I didn’t want my son growing up like I did,” he continues. “I wanted him to not have to go through that. He gave me a motivation to do better for myself and for him.”

Paul feels blessed that he has a good relationship with 5-year-old Joaquin. “We’re very close. He’s definitely a daddy’s boy. He’s just a lot of fun.

“I want to make sure he doesn’t grow up and make the same mistakes I did because I never had a dad. I don’t want him growing up like that. I want him to choose the right group of people to hang around. “And I definitely want him to have God in his life. I want to be a mentor to him. I’m not the perfect dad, but I’m trying. I just want him to have a better life than I did.

Losing control

And looking back, Paul can see exactly where he lost control of his life: the day his grandmother died. For the sake of Joaquin, he vows that won’t happen again.

Paul’s grandma and mom had raised him and his sister. His dad was not in their lives. And he was around people who openly used drugs. Paul thought that was normal. “I didn’t really have somebody to play a strong role in helping me do the right things,” he says.

It was only later in life that Paul would realize how falling so easily into drug use would derail his plans and nearly cost him his life.

Unbearable loss

After high school graduation, Paul served his country for 6 years as a munitions specialist in the Air Force. And when he came home, he lived with his grandmother, with whom he was still close. “I was working,” he says. “I was doing good.”

But then his grandmother died. The pain and sense of loss were excruciating. He quickly turned to drugs to ease the pain. “I started using. I just started spiraling down.”


“I want to make sure he doesn’t grow up and make the same mistakes I did.”


Having lost the anchor in his life, Paul became heavily addicted. He says he did just about every kind of drug that was put in front of him. “I lost everything because I was spending the money on drugs.”

Worse, he says, “I was dealing with bad people. I got myself into some bad situations.” And that nearly got him killed in a shooting. Paul was deeply shaken by his brush with death. He found the courage to call on his sister and tell her what was going on. Thankfully, she came to his rescue, even working with the team at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission to find Paul a place in our faith-based recovery program.

Paul: A shining example

Once in our recovery program, Paul worked hard to put his life back on track. Today he is drug-free and works in construction. He has committed himself to be there for his son and be the loving, trustworthy father he never had. 

“The Mission definitely changed my life,” Paul says. “They helped me grow spiritually, physically, mentally — and definitely helped me become a stronger person in my faith, my walk, and the choices I make. Through my recovery, I’m building a foundation for myself so I can continue to grow.”

Thanks to you, Paul can be the man and father he knows God would have him be!

Every $45.44 enables someone to receive a day of extensive, 360-degree support and recovery services that changed the lives of Paul and Joaquin.

That includes meals, shelter, hygiene, clothing, staff support, and classes — everything the Mission provides for lasting transformation.

There are so many others who need a chance to experience the freedom Paul and Joaquin are living today. Please give generously.



Just $9.07 delivers a lifesaving Winter Rescue Kit to a homeless neighbor in desperate need.

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