Rick grew up in Woodlake in a family where alcohol was an everyday occasion. At a young age, his father passed away from alcoholism. His family was farm workers, and Rick recalls being made fun of in school because of it. “ I became violent at school because I was made fun of. My violence soon turned to drugs, and that environment became normal for me. I eventually ended up in prison, without a way to break the cycle and be free.”
When he got out of prison years later, he tried an outpatient treatment program, because he knew he wanted something different, but he was continuing to use, even in program. “I was at the point where my choices were so poor, my family wouldn’t even let me come around them. I ended up on the streets and a mentor of mine asked if I had considered the Visalia Rescue Mission’s recovery program. “ Rick said it was the one place he didn’t want to go…. But it was the place God knew he needed to be.
“I didn’t think I fit in at VRM. There I was, an ex-gang member, covered in tattoos, mistake after mistake, but through VRM, I learned about the Holy Spirit, about redemption. Before VRM, I was spiritually dead, but now, I’m alive!”
5 years after graduating from VRM’s program, Rick was still working at Rescued Treasures. “It was a safe environment, and I didn’t want to leave.” Joe, the warehouse manager from Cal Bennetts, met Rick and offered him a position at the company.
Stan Bennett, president of Cal Bennetts at the time, had a heart for God and extending a grace for others, just like we have been given by Jesus. He believed in offering second chances for those who couldn’t find an opportunity and were looking to get back in the work force. Offering Rick, and many others just like him a second chance at a job and rebuilding their life, was what he did.
Years ago, Rick served in prison with several of his nephews. Today, many of those same nephews are all working alongside him at Cal Bennetts thanks to the heart of Stan Bennett. Rick said “I never thought we would see anything other than prison together, yet here we are working together. I see my family again. It’s all because of God and what I learned at VRM.”
Since Stan’s passing, Garrett Lovell, and his wife, Emilee Bennett-Lovell, have chosen to honor Stan by continuing his legacy of offering second chances to those who need a helping hand. We are so thankful for the heart Cal Bennetts has for our graduates and those just like Rick!