Jesse Mendez has his clean date, February 10, 2012, tattooed on his arm as “a reminder.” He had been through recovery in the past; he had eight years clean and even worked as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselor before his relapse into drug abuse. His relapse left him “completely unproductive and using all the time”- he hit bottom on his sister’s couch, where he lived off a “couple bags, would go to the bar, get high, then stay up all day in a vicious cycle.” This behavior quickly spiraled: he got arrested and went to prison. He was released from jail two years ago and sent to Pathway Society, Inc., and it was there that Jesse began to make a true recovery. Jesse says that he’s thankful to be a productive person again, something he’d forgotten how to be when using drugs. Jesse is excited to live his life as “a regular person” without drugs and alcohol thanks to his experience at Pathway.
With the benefit of hindsight, Jesse is confident when he discusses his relapse: confident that drug use is a pattern in his past, and that he’s free from repeating in the future. He believes his relapse occurred because he got “too big a head” and stopped attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and he believes that the true healing and self-discovery that he experienced at Pathway will keep him dedicated to his recovery. Jesse explains that when he entered Pathway Society, he felt a sense of “relief that some changes were about to be made in my life” and says that he was of the mentality that he needed to get clean. Pathways’ biggest impact on Jesse was the “camaraderie of the people that were there,” and he says that Pathway truly is a society of people: people on the same page, with the same problems, who are starting at the bottom and working their way up together. Jesse ran into family friends and friends from the street whom he’d grown up with while at Pathway, and he formed a special bond with these past friends who also wanted to work together for a better future. Jesse says he would ask them to “remind me what the hell I’m doing here”; their reply was always “we want something different.” Together, the society at Pathway reminded Jesse that change is possible.
Now, Jesse is the superintendent at a construction company, overseeing four different job sights. He began work as a carpenter’s apprentice, but was able to work his way up to superintendent in just four months. Jesse proudly mentions that he has just recently become a 49ers season ticket holder, a goal he has held since childhood that he is extremely happy he has been able to achieve. Jesse maintains that now most of his life revolves around his sobriety; he attends meetings two to three times a week, and he is dedicated to giving back what was so freely given to him by being a privileged cardholder at Pathway. Jesse explains that knowing there are men and women waiting for him helps to keep him focused on “staying clean every week so I can get there to pick those guys up.” Jesse lives with his girlfriend, and is excited to regain full time custody of his 12 year old son, who, Jesse says “thinks he’s going on 40.” Jesse’s current goal is to move out of his Uncle’s house so he, his son, and his girlfriend will have their own home. He is serious about building a life for his son, and Jesse’s most important goal is to continue with his sobriety: he wants to “work on myself so I become a better person.”