Jeremiah’s early life saw a lot of sudden changes. When he was four his parents split up and his mother moved him and his sister to California. He only saw his father during the summer and by age nine, he would spend these summers helping his father with his landscape business, pulling weeds and mowing lawns even though he could barely reach the steering wheel.
Shortly after moving to California, his mother fell in love and married a military man. For the rest of Jeremiah’s childhood he became an “army brat”, bouncing from military housing unit to military housing unit. Each time his stepfather was stationed somewhere new, his whole family would leave their jobs, their schools, and friends to follow him. “Until I heard the serenity prayer, I didn’t know what change was because my life was always changing,” Jeremiah explains.
By the time Jeremiah was 18, he moved into the house of a local band. He would help them set up, go to all their shows, and eventually began doing drugs with them. It started out as harmless curiosity. He would watch them smoking weed and found himself wondering what it felt like. Before long, he was smoking everyday, taking “shrooms” (magic mushrooms), and dropping acid.
Eventually, he realized he had a problem with alcohol and needed to stop. That is when Jeremiah first began attending AA meetings, and for the most part that helped, but there was an even bigger, more insidious problem lurking around the corner…
For Jeremiah, gambling was something he did without a second thought. When he was young, his grandmother would fill his Christmas stockings with scratchers. At the time, he had no real concept of what they were. He just knew he enjoyed the thrill they gave him. Gambling didn’t become a problem for Jeremiah until he started winning. He would go to the casinos, lose some money, but then occasionally win big. This became a sensation he quickly could not live without.
After a few years of this, Jeremiah realized that he got the same satisfaction from losing as he did from winning. It was all about control. He truly felt that no matter the outcome, win or lose, he was in control of his destiny.
Soon the losses started to pile up and Jeremiah found himself homeless, sleeping in a park, with nowhere to turn for help. After hearing about Beit T’Shuvah from someone he met at a Gamblers Anonymous meeting, he was able to secure a bed at 8831 Venice Blvd after five months of homelessness.
Upon arriving at Beit T’Shuvah he was instantly struck with a feeling he had never had previously. When your life has been all about moving to the next military housing project or to the next casino, it is incredibly difficult to think of anywhere as home. Beit T’Shuvah, in time, became his home. The community was warm and accepted him and he couldn’t be more grateful. After several months as an intern in the maintenance department, and giving back in as many ways as he could, Jeremiah was hired as a full-time staff member. You can now find Jeremiah around the house fixing this or repairing that, and always with a smile.
This year has been unpredictably difficult for everyone, but for some it has also been riddled with tragedy and loss. Sadly, Jeremiah is one of those people. He has spent the year mourning the deaths of many former residents, one of his closest friends, and tragically, his fiancé. Despite having gone through a lifetime’s worth of deaths in just a year, Jeremiah is still optimistic. He knows that G-d still loves him. The community that Jeremiah found at Beit T’Shuvah is what he credits with keeping him strong this year.
He’s in mourning, but manages to do so with his head held high because Jeremiah knows he has a bright future ahead of him. He dreams of being a Wildlife Marshal and plans to leverage his degree in criminal justice to do so. After completing a few biology classes, he believes he’ll be well prepared to save endangered species and thwart poachers. When asked why he wants to do this he said, in classic Jeremiah fashion, “I just love animals and don’t want to see them get hurt.”