When Ray volunteers on the kitchen serving line at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, he sees himself in the men he serves. Because he’s been there.
Ray was homeless for four years in Texas before moving to the area to live with his father, whose health was declining and who needed care. But Ray needed it too. “I was ready to get off the streets,” he says.
Ray considered checking into the Mission himself, but decided to stay with his father. Still, he was drawn to the Mission. So he decided to volunteer. “My desire to serve was inspired by seeing people that were just like me,” he says.
When Ray serves meals, he does so with a smile and tries to strike up conversations. “I started becoming acquaintances with them,” he says. “I say hi and try to get a smile out of them, put some hot sauce on their food, take their tray, whatever they need.”
Ray knows need, though he never expected to be in such a position. He was a civil engineer with a six-figure income when his world fell apart. His wife left with their young children. Four days later, Hurricane Harvey hit, causing extensive flooding damage to their Texas home. Two months later, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer; doctors removed 25% of it. Three months later, he lost his job. And then he lost all hope. “I just gave up on society,” he says.
Ray ended up living in his car and on the streets, addicted to whatever came his way. “Meth, crack, marijuana, alcohol, sex,” he says. But since moving to Vegas, helping his father and volunteering at the Mission, he’s turned his life around.
Ray is in Celebrate Recovery at a local church, and he’s taking steps toward becoming a pastor. “I’m a new man,” he says. “It’s all about Jesus. I get to demonstrate my walk with Jesus to the residents at the Mission.”
Thank you for giving to help people start over. If you, like Ray, are interested in volunteering with us, learn more here.