REAL LIFE STORIES

lives are changed everyday
at cityteaM

Hear from the men, women, and children whose lives are impacted by CityTeam.
People walk through our doors overcome by struggles like homelessness, hunger, poverty, and addiction, but inside they find compassion, help, and hope …

LIVING AND LEARNING TOGETHER

Before coming to CityTeam and pursuing recovery, Daniel turned to alcohol to escape. Living a life without hope, he had no will to live. Today, Daniel is living a full and sober life. He is valued in the CityTeam Connect overnight shelter, where he finds deep purpose “living and learning” together with his community. Daniel is now a man of ambition; he’s pursuing his goals of becoming a drug and alcohol counselor and purchasing a home.

A FAMILY FINDS HOPE

Some people might have called Joey a “functioning addict,” if there is such a thing. For most of his adult life, he was able to hold a job, pay his bills, and be active in his tight-knit family. Looking back, Joey can see that the drugs were just a symptom. The real problem was how he handled the negative experiences of his childhood, including hurt, resentment, and disappointment. They nearly destroyed him. Eventually, Joey’s habit took control of his life. He could no longer hide his addiction. The night and weekend binges spilled over into the days. His sloppy work on the job caught up with him. Finally, Joey was fired from his good-paying construction position. It was all downhill from there. Focusing on change through faith “I was scared that I was either going to die or do something that I’d regret,”he says.

“I started seeing myself on a path to destruction. “I just knew I had to make a change. But the most I would last sober would be two or three weeks. Eventually, I’d go back to my addiction.” Since coming to CityTeam, Joey has learned more about what makes him tick — and why he turned to drugs. “Drugs are just a symptom,” acknowledges Joey. “The real problem is how we handle life. And it all stems from what we go through, and the things that we need to break free from, the people we need to forgive. Holding on to those resentments leads us to destruction.” CityTeam’s focus on faith has enabled him to connect with God. “I don’t have to be alone again, because now God is in my life.

In the four months that I’ve been here, so much has changed.” A bright future through education and job training In addition to spiritual mentoring to help him grow in his faith, Joey has been able to take advantage of classes to help him sharpen his educational skills and prepare for gainful employment. Right now, through our CityTeam @ Work program, Joey is taking courses that will enable him to get good-paying work as an electrician. CityTeam’s partnerships with employers and vocational training schools are central to our programs, helping to ensure that our graduates can attain a living wage, have more stability, and don’t fall back into addiction.

FIGHTING FOR HIS FAMILY

“My whole life changed the day I walked in this door. The people I was surrounded by, I could just tell–they were ready to help me before I was ready to help myself. And they didn’t even know me.”- Kurtis

CityTeam has empowered Kurtis to be a better man for his fiancé, son, and his community. You can listen to his story firsthand.

A MOTHER'S LIFE RESTORED

With the help of CityTeam Renew, Rebecca has overcome addiction and found new purpose. Her children have seen her hungry, homeless, and in handcuffs, but now they see she’s been transformed into a mother who will never give up.

WELCOME HOME

CityTeam doesn’t just support the individual, we support the whole family. Daniel and Chelsie have been through ups and downs together with their two children. With the help of CityTeam they now have a space to live and be a family.

Daniel is the family man he always wished he could be.

BECOMING FAMILY

Tanisha was struggling to make ends meet when she encountered CityTeam’s Mother & Baby program. Over the years, CityTeam has stood by her side and helped her support her growing family.

FINDING TRUE POTENTIAL

Trapped in a vicious cycle, Aarons alcoholism controlled every aspect of his life. CityTeam @ Work encouraged Aaron to pursue a living wage job and a career while he took the time to practice sobriety. Though this journey of self discovery, Aaron found a career he was passionate about.

Today, Aaron is an incredibly hard worker pursuing his goals in the pipe trades. He has been transformed into a humble, disciplined, and giving individual who is able to work full days with an attitude that does not go unrecognized in the workplace. CityTeam could not be prouder of Aaron’s dedication to completely changing his life.

FINDING PEACE

With the help of CityTeam, Jose’s life has been transformed. Not long ago he was wandering the streets convinced he was going to die young. Today he lives a new life full of peace, purpose, and love.

Take a moment today to listen to Jose’s powerful journey through recovery and restoration.

FROM RESIDENT TO STAFF

“If I didn’t walk through those doors that day, I don’t know where I’d be today. I really don’t. But I know that my life would not be as joyful as it is.”- Dallas, CityTeam Kitchen Supervisor and CityTeam Graduate.

Dallas found a passion for cooking during his time in CityTeam Men’s Recovery Program years ago. Today, he is a valued member of CityTeam staff who pours his heart into providing a safe, upflifting dining experience for our homeless guests. We are so thankful for the man Dallas is today and for his amazing service to our community!

INSPIRED TO GIVE BACK

Before CityTeam, Jamal had no idea what his purpose was. He found himself asking, “what’s the point?” These days, he can be found living out his calling. When homeless guests arrive at CityTeam to receive a hot meal, Jamal greets them with his warm personality and a inviting smile. Jamal has realized that his purpose is to serve others. Watch the video to hear how CityTeam @ Work is helping him pursue a longterm career that will help individuals coming out of addiction.

Addiction took over his life, and he gave up on himself and his family. Jamaal was living in tents and on street corners, but at CityTeam he is finding new hope! Hear him tell in his own words about his excitement for his future, his family, and giving back to others.

A FAMILY MAN

Taylor was living his dream of being a family man who worked hard and was there for his family. But, when heroin took over his life, he lost all that. In his addiction, he chose homelessness, petty theft, and running aimlessly throughout life. But his story doesn’t end there.

GRATEFUL TO BE ME

Elisa and Cortney have experienced abuse, self-harm, addiction, and jail. But, at House of Grace they were welcomed with love and grace. Hear these two amazing women share about the spectacular transformation that is happening in their lives.

A SIGH OF RELIEF

Robert was stuck in his addiction for decades. When he heard about CityTeam, he breathed a sigh of relief knowing there was hope for his future.

EMBRACED AS FAMILY

Monique first came to CityTeam as a volunteer. But as she struggled with living in a shelter and raising two young boys, she found amazing love and support at CityTeam to help her persevere.

BEST DAY OF MY LIFE

Addiction took over his life, and he gave up on himself and his family. Jamaal was living in tents and on street corners, but at CityTeam he is finding new hope! Hear him tell in his own words about his excitement for his future, his family, and giving back to others.

YOU CAN LEARN, CAN'T YOU?

Shawn began drinking and using drugs as a young teen. This led him to a life of addiction, selling drugs, and cycling in and out of prison.

At CityTeam, Shawn found hope and began the journey toward a new life.

After 8 months clean and sober, he wondered how he would find a job. With his history of drug use and jail time, the task of job hunting was intimidating and challenging.

One day, a couple of women came in to volunteer and talked with Shawn as they worked together. After some time, one volunteer said, “Well…if you know anyone looking for a job, we run a little restaurant down the street. We are looking for a cook.”

“I’m looking for a job!” Shawn couldn’t hold back his excitement, but he went on to explain, “I want to be honest. I just got out of prison; I have eight months sober; and I don’t know anything about cooking. But I need a job.”

“You can learn, can’t you?”

“I can!”

After his interview the following week, Shawn came running into the CityTeam office shouting, “I got a job! I got a job! Whew! I got a job! I think I’m gonna go cry or something! I can’t believe it.”

Read More Life Changing Stories

CHRISTMAS HOPE FOR A FAMILY BATTLING CANCER

Bobby is just a child, but he has been diagnosed with cancer.  His father had to cut back on hours at work in order to take Bobby back and forth to appointments. With less money and high medical bills to pay, they struggled. Bobby felt bad about the hardships caused by his cancer and felt worse that his favorite holiday, Christmas, wouldn’t be celebrated. They couldn’t afford food or rent, much less gifts.

Then a neighbor told Bobby’s dad about CityTeam. When Bobby’s dad came to CityTeam, the staff and volunteers jumped right in to help with a food box for him to take home that day. He also received gifts for Bobby and his sisters to open on Christmas day. The support from CityTeam makes their burden a little lighter and their Christmas such a meaningful and special time.

HOMELESS AND ON THE RUN

“Growing up in Oakland, you can experience a lot of different types of people. As a sixteen-year old, I thought it was cool to hang out with friends that drank and did drugs. That kind of lifestyle lead me to homelessness and being on the run. Running away from friends and family. Last year I found myself in a detox center and it was a social worker who told me about CityTeam Oakland. I needed help and they opened their door to me. Through the Discovering God Bible studies at CityTeam, I have learned a lot about who God is and how I can have a personal relationship with Him. I am currently working and I see so many changes in my life. I am so thankful to everyone that has supported me through the process.”

MY SECOND CHANCE

I was at a school dance when a friend forced me to try cocaine with him. I was only twelve years old and I had never done anything like that before.

After that, I started using meth, and my addiction took over my life. As the years went by, I wasn’t happy. Most nights I would sleep in my car.  It was only a matter of time before I was on my way to prison.

My probation officer knew I needed a second chance and introduced me to a man by the name of Markku at CityTeam.  Markku understood addiction because he had been there. I trusted him even though I was extremely lost and depressed. At CityTeam I have found serenity in God and happiness that I have never felt before. I am working as a catering assistant while I go through a six-week pre-apprenticeship class. All the glory and praise goes to God.

HOMELESS AND HUNGRY

Allen was 51 when he ended up homeless. It was a complete shock to him.

“I’d seen people who were homeless,” he says. “But I’d never experienced it.”

Hunger became a physical pain and one of Allen’s biggest concerns. He had no idea how to survive on the streets. Having to constantly search for shelter, worried about his personal safety. He was never able to live, just survive. It was too much to bear.

“I’d had nutritious food most of my life. Those nights without were just horrible,” Allen remembers, feeling hopeless. “I was tired, I was hungry. I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”

When he heard about CityTeam, he knew it was where he needed to go. As soon as he walked in, the generosity of friends like you blew him away. At CityTeam Allen experienced compassionate help that is helping him change his life.

Now, Allen is in our program and is thriving. He works in our pantry where he sees food fly off the shelves every day, being given to people who are hungry and on the street.

 Allen was at his lowest point before he found CityTeam. Friends like you provided the meals and hope he needed to get off the street and change his life. 

COBWEBS ON THE DISHES

Vincent learned what hunger was like when he was only 10 years old. His father passed away, and his family struggled in the midst of that huge loss.

“We had no food in the house,” he remembers. “There were spider webs and cobwebs on the dishes. I ate toothpaste just to have something in my stomach.”

At CityTeam, Vincent has found relief from those familiar hunger pangs with delicious, hot meals. Just imagine the joy and relief he felt receiving a plate overflowing with ham, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and fresh fruit after experiencing such extreme hunger.

HE WALKED FOR SIX HOURS

Seth played professional baseball until he suffered a career-ending injury. To provide for his family, he took a sales job with a Fortune 500 company. The long hours and intense pressure were too much for him.

“I started taking amphetamines,” Seth said. “I knew it was wrong, but the hours were so long, it was the only way to stay awake. I needed to take care of my wife, my son and my daughter, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair.”

A few years later when the economy dropped, Seth lost his job. By that time he was so addicted, he couldn’t stop using. The lies ate away at his marriage until his wife divorced him.

Seth was left all alone, sleeping in his car. He stopped eating. His skin hung loosely off his 6’ 7” frame.

On Christmas morning, Seth knew he had to get help. He walked six hours in shorts and a t-shirt to his ex-wife’s house. His family took one look at him and knew he was in bad shape. They asked him to stay the night and the next morning he confessed his addiction and asked if they would help him. They contacted CityTeam and got Seth enrolled in our life transformation program.

Giving Back
After Seth has completed the program, he wants to stay at CityTeam as an intern so he can help others suffering from their addictions.

“I love the service industry. I love helping people.” Seth said. “Just to be serving people who don’t have or get enough. Sharing the help and hope that CityTeam showed me. It’s work, but it’s God’s work.”

ADDICTION TOOK EVERYTHING

I am only twenty-two years old and I fell into using drugs and alcohol when I was 14. I found out that addiction can take everything away from you. Your home, your freedom, and even the ones you love. I couldn’t stop by myself. I needed the help of CityTeam to show me the way or I was going to end up dead on the street. I am truly thankful for CityTeam and their life transformation program. I didn’t think I could change but I am changing every day. The classes are helping me prepare for my future after graduation.

– Jeffrey, CityTeam Oakland Resident

EACH STEP OF THE WAY

I have spent my whole life here in the Bay Area. At fifteen, I took my first drink of alcohol. It only got worse from there. I was in bad shape until a friend reached out to me and told me how much they cared about me and that recovery was possible. When I first saw the CityTeam Oakland building on Washington Street, I didn’t believe this was going to work. But I was wrong. That is where God met me at the bottom of that long flight of stairs and helped me each step of the way.  The staff and the volunteers became my biggest cheerleaders helping me along in the life transformation program and mentoring me in my career as a butcher at The Market in San Francisco.  I will be graduating soon and my constant prayer is that I stay on my path with God.

– Patrick, CityTeam Oakland Resident

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FUTURE

I am 57 years old and grew up right here in Oakland.  At the age of 15, I started hanging out with the wrong crowd of people that introduced me to a world of alcohol and drugs.  A former graduate of CityTeam Oakland told me how his life was completely transformed in their men’s program.  I was looking for that same transformation in my life and was willing to take a chance. Today, I am now eight months clean and sober. I can’t thank CityTeam and the staff enough for helping me each step of the way. I continue to grow in my relationship with God everyday.  I am looking forward to the future ahead of me.

– Robert, CityTeam Oakland Graduate

YOU GIVE DIGNITY

Pete became homeless after his real estate business was hit by the economic crisis. While he was on the streets, he didn’t sleep. He’d just walk around all night trying to stay warm.

At 62, the experience was traumatizing.

When Pete learned he could get a hot meal, a shower and shelter at CityTeam, he felt like God was intervening just in time.

The meals nourished his body, giving him energy for challenges he faces every day. He got a safe place to sleep and was able to start rebuilding his resume with the help of people in our Learning Center.

“I am thankful for the staff at CityTeam Oakland for helping me and treating me with dignity,” he said. “I know that God will help me. He’s helped me so many times before.”

Every meal or night of shelter you provide for someone like Pete can be the start of a whole new life. A life with dignity. A life with hope.

I'M NO LONGER AFRAID OF LIVING LIFE

When Max was six, his sister was born with cerebral palsy. His mother abandoned the newborn in the hospital – she left Max there, too.

His father took the children home and soon remarried, but he and his new wife were both alcoholics. Max felt abandoned, and rebelled. “I used to run away from home and get in trouble with the law,” recalls Max. “I turned 13 in jail.”

Today, Max is in his 60s. He’s been a professional wrestler, a firefighter and even a volunteer policeman. He’s also struggled with addiction.

“I can tell you how to save your life, but I couldn’t save my own,” he said.

In his darkest moment, a stranger talked him out of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. “I should be dead,” Max said. “God saved my life.”

Max came to CityTeam, and with courage went on to graduate from our life transformation program.

“I’m no longer afraid of living life,” he said.

“I have an adopted family,” Max said of CityTeam. “I want to be a success story that comes back and gives back what he has.”

NOTHING BUT THE CLOTHES ON HIS BACK

For most of his adult life Cliff worked as the Chief Financial Officer for several large corporations. He often traveled to London, Paris, New York and San Francisco for work. He got so wrapped up in the success of his career that he felt like he didn’t have a greater purpose.

His despair turned into severe depression before he even realized it was happening.

“I went off the deep end,” he said. “I did nothing for two months but sleep.”

He stopped eating. He stopped opening his mail. He stopped going to work.

Instead of getting treatment, Cliff had a terrible thought that alcohol might help him feel better.

“I remember when I picked up that first drink,” Cliff shared. “I said out loud, ‘This is going to end badly.’”

He was right.

The Final Blow
Not only did Cliff end up in the hospital, but he lost his job and his home. His lowest point came when he fell asleep on the sidewalk leaning against a building. When he woke up the next morning, his backpack had been stolen. He had nothing left but the clothes he was wearing.

That’s when he came to CityTeam.

“I’m 52 and came to CityTeam and started studying the Bible for the first time,” said Cliff. “I started understanding about a personal relationship with a God who loves me. It’s been amazing to discover the peace and purpose I believe He planned for me, which I had never felt before. It’s been a hole inside until now.”

A HURRICANE SURVIVOR FINDS SAFETY

Alan used to work on an oil rig before Hurricane Katrina hit. It was dangerous work, but he earned enough to always keep a roof over his head. Then the storm came through and washed his life away. After volunteering to help clean up the aftermath, there was nothing left to do but leave.

“It was terrible,” he remembers. “I evacuated to Houston . . . a lot of people died, including some of my friends.”

No Work to Be Found                                                                                      

Alan tried to find work in Houston, but wasn’t able to get back on his feet. He had friends here in Oakland, so he came out here hoping to put his life back together. He found work as a landscaper and shared an apartment with a friend, but soon, all that was washed away, too.

“I lost my job,” Alan says. “My roommate wasn’t working full-time, so we couldn’t pay the bills.”

Alan has been homeless for a year now. He’s had a string of odd jobs, but hasn’t been able to find anything permanent. He started working on his G.E.D. and hopes that will open up some more doors for him.

“CityTeam offers me a place to rest after looking for work during the day. Three meals every day. I feel safe here.”

IT COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE

Homelessness and hunger can happen to anyone. Trevor is proof of that. He’s an electrician and does remodeling work, but all of a sudden his work dried up.

“Right now, I’m in between jobs,” he said. His last steady job required him to scramble up tall poles with spikes in his shoes to hang power lines. “It’s risky working around 60,000 volts,” Trevor said.

His Greatest Fear
Trevor’s fear of being electrocuted while at work was nothing compared to the panic he felt when he was laid off right before Christmas. Without the income from his job, he didn’t have any way to feed his family.

Fortunately, Trevor heard about CityTeam. It’s a 30-minute bus ride and asking for help is hard, but he is so grateful.

“When I’m desperate like this, I’ll do anything to make sure my kids eat,” he said as he waited for a box of food.

“I can’t let them go hungry out of pride. ‘Feed your kids first,’ that’s what I believe.”

With more neighbors like this who are struggling to cover their food costs, your gifts are critical for hard-working people like Trevor who are trying to feed their families. Without CityTeam and your support, many of these people wouldn’t eat at all.

WE'RE GOING TO BE OKAY

Even though Tonya worked as hard as she could and kept long hours, she wasn’t able to keep up with the rising costs of rent in the Delaware Valley. She ended up homeless for almost an entire year.

Working and earning enough money for a permanent place to sleep got more difficult when she became pregnant. Thinking about the additional expenses to take care of a newborn made her feel hopeless and alone in the family shelter.

A friend told Tonya that CityTeam’s Mother Baby program could help her. Tonya really appreciated the diapers, formula and clothes she couldn’t have gotten without the program. The hot meals and job-skills training helped her turn her life around.

Today, Tonya is working and has a small apartment that CityTeam helped her furnish.

“I am grateful to CityTeam and the caring staff and volunteers. They showed me the right way to support my baby,” said Tonya. “We are going to be okay because we have a roof over our heads and can go for a family dinner at CityTeam.”

GOD CAN CHANGE ANYONE

I grew up in Oakland and fell into my addiction at the early age of twelve. Throughout my life I suffered from my addiction and became homeless. A friend told me about CityTeam and how they could help me rebuild my life. I’ve been here almost a year and I am so thankful. Today, I am using my cooking skills for two fun companies. I am a part-time cook at the popular Mae Mae’s Kitchen and also for The Parkway Theater in Oakland. If it wasn’t for CityTeam, I would probably still be homeless on the streets of Oakland. God has given me a second chance and a purpose in life. I truly care about other people and want to be an example that God can change anyone.

-Darnell, CityTeam Oakland Resident

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