CHULA VISTA, Calif. — After spending thirty-five years in prison, a South Bay man is turning sobriety into success for himself and others. In this Zevely Zone, I visited the McAlister Institute South Bay Enhanced Services Center in Chula Vista.
If you've ever wondered what kind of difference one person can make, Joey Rubio is a good person to meet. "I love these guys, I love these guys," said Joey as he stood in front of the McAlister Institute South Bay Enhanced Services Center hugging his clients.
Joey Rubio is turning a lifetime of mistakes into miracles. "By the time I was seven and eight I took to the streets you know?" said Joey.
The 63-year-old grew up in the projects of Brooklyn and started selling and using heroin at the age of ten. "Gang banging, drugs, guns," said Joey. After spending 35 years of his life behind bars, Joey finally freed himself of shackles and addictions. He became sober seven years ago. "I haven't looked back," said Joey.
Five years ago, the McAlister Institute took a chance on Joey. He had no office skills. He could not even turn on a computer but that didn't stop him from landing the job and teaming up with police and park rangers to launch a program called Work for Hope. The McAlister Institute South Bay Enhanced Services Center helps people get off the streets and off of drugs. Joey has helped hundreds of people beat the streets and their addictions.
One step outside his office, and Joey is surrounded by his success stories. "Maria came though my program, I mean I've got so many people who have come through my program," said Joey. Maria agreed to share her story with us. "I really appreciate him, I really appreciate him," said Maria while tearing up. Instead of living on the streets addicted to drugs, Maria is now sober with a job. "He really helped me, I made something out of nothing," said Maria.
Joey and his clients have beautified more than 90 parks with a program that needs funding. "You go to city hall and everybody raises their hand and says we want to help you we want to help you but when it comes time to help you nobody is there. They all want to sound good when other people are there that is what it comes down to," said Joey. His passion brings his boss Carlos Cuervo to tears. "I don't know as many people who have as much heart as he does. I just don't know anybody with that much heart," said Carlos.
Joey also helped a client named Royce land a job and get half custody of his daughter back. "When I first came here, I had been homeless for about a year and I was smoking meth," said Royce. "Joey along with the staff here at the McAlister Institute are the reason my life is going the way it is going right now." Joey used to run from the police, but now teams up with them to throw people a lifeline.
"I got my family back because of this program," said a man named Arquimedez. He got a job and his child back too and wanted to say this about second chances. "That they are possible, that there are a lot of people just like me who need a push that is what I needed I needed a push," said Arquimedez.
This is the love and support Joey never had as a child. "I wanted to change, I needed to change, and it helped me," said Maria who became too emotional to speak. Joey gave her a hug and said, "It's okay honey, it's okay."
Thrifty five years of hard time and Joey still has the softest of hearts. "It chokes me up, it choked me up," said Joey. The McAllister Insititute has offered high-quality, low-cost substance abuse treatment, drug intervention, and recovery support services to more than 19,000 men, women, teens, and children throughout San Diego County.
Joey's passion to help is so strong he freely gives out his cell phone number to anyone in need. "If there is anyone out there that needs help give me a call and my number is 619-933-5139," said Joey. He went back to school to become a drug and alcohol counselor. If you know someone who needs Joey's help finding a job and getting sober or you would like more information about the McAlister Institute South Bay Enhanced Services Center click here.
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