Elevating Voices: Ray

Dec 27, 2022

It’s plain to see how Guild’s clients struggle and need support. After all, it’s our mission to empower people dealing with mental illness and/or experiencing homelessness, neither of which is easy or comfortable. But, when we hear stories like Ray’s, it’s important not only to see the struggle and understand the barriers Ray faced to his health and stability but also to acknowledge the profound resilience Ray, like so many Guild clients, demonstrates.

Ray grew up in an abusive family with an incarcerated father and an alcoholic mother. At our recent Ladder of Hope event he shared, “One of my earliest memories is watching my father go to jail for molesting my sister after my mother discovered this.” It’s no wonder depression set in early for Ray. Though he can’t remember exactly when he became depressed, Ray had mental health challenges by the time he was just seven years old.

By the time Ray was 13 years old, his father had been released from prison back to the family, then reoffended, and was incarcerated again. His mother faced raising five children alone, with untreated addiction and her own mental illness. Without healthy coping mechanisms, Ray’s depression symptoms worsened. He started to self-harm and engaged in drug and alcohol use.

By the time he was 17, Ray had attempted suicide three times. We met Ray after the third hospitalization for attempting to end his own life. He told us, “Before Guild came into my life, I was lost, had a lack of self-discipline, was impulsive, angry, hurt, and left to survive. Little did I know about the turnaround I was going to make.”

With our support, Ray broke out of his family’s trauma-induced patterns. He found stable housing, setting him on a path toward healing and accomplishing some major life goals. Guild provided a robust set of services to support Ray on multiple fronts. He said, “From therapists and psychologists to chemical dependency counselors and education specialists. Having all of these supportive people around me made a huge impact on my life, routine, and headspace.”

But among the Guild staff Ray encountered, one person stood out to him; Tou, his Recovery Specialist. Ray described Tou glowingly, saying, “Tou is a wonderful and compassionate person. He has a kind heart and wants to share his knowledge and experiences to help others going through strife.”

Tou also supported Ray in discovering how Ray’s traumatic past could become a powerful force in healing others. Ray said, “He introduced me to a field of work I never knew existed, Peer Recovery. I didn’t know my own trauma and life experiences, and using what I’ve learned personally to get me through life, could be a real job!”

Since we met him, Ray has completed his GED, graduated from our Youth ACT program, gotten engaged, and recently received his Peer Recovery certification. He’s well on his way to realizing dreams he hadn’t yet discovered five years ago.

Ray shared this message of gratitude when he spoke at our recent Ladder of Hope event, which we pass on to you today, “whether you’re a partner, donating, or investing with Guild, you’re investing in someone’s future.”

Invest in our clients’ futures. Donate today.