Skid Row is a place that you probably never heard of. But it is a place in Los Angeles where impoverished families, drug addicts and schizophrenics fashion cardboard shelters from the merchants’ discarded boxes. And when times got hard, this is where you could find Orlando Ward. He was a high-school basketball star that later went on to play for Stanford. After a bad injury, he was never the same basketball player.
After his basketball career was over, he left Stanford to become a senior marketing representative for Xerox. However, this would be the start of a downward path as he became familiar with drugs and alcohol. He lost his job within 18 months. For the next few years, he continued to battle with cocaine and alcohol addiction. This addiction left him homeless and even landed him in jail a few times. His family supported him as long as they could until one day they refused to help him anymore.
Ward would go to the Midnight Mission for hot meals when he was hungry. Little did he know he would be running the place one day. Mission managers quickly realized that Ward needed to find something that would give him a sense of worth. His kitchen-duty assignment soon provided that. As Ward made progress, managers gave him more responsibility. He got a paying job in the stockroom, where he designed an Excel-based inventory system to smooth operations. In October 2000, Ward became the mission’s associate director for program development.
Today, Ward still visits Skid Row to help others just like him. He hasn’t forgot where he came from. But he is appreciative that he made it out. Moral of story: its not how hard you get knocked down, its how hard you try to get up.
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