Bill Rebuilt His Life, Now Helps Others
Finally vindicated after spending seven months in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, all Bill had were the clothes on his back and a bus ticket to Apopka, where he planned to regroup at a friend’s house. But when he arrived, he found his friend’s mother cleaning out the place.
“It turns out my friend had died a few days earlier,” Bill said. “So at that point I had no bus ticket, no money and no place to go. I scraped together enough for a bus ticket to Orlando and went to a food pantry. A nice couple there told me about the Mission, so that’s where I went.”
Bill arrived at the Mission in 2010 and spent nearly a year and a half getting back on his feet. Today he owns his own successful business, but his road to success was anything but easy.
A Wisconsin native, Bill spent time living in Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas before coming to Florida in the mid-2000s. He started a business selling car wash supplies but sold it when the recession started. Then he went to work for a boss who accused him of stealing, and he landed in jail in October 2009. He could have made a plea deal and walked out with probation, but instead he fought the charges.
“I didn’t agree to it because I didn’t do what I was accused of doing,” he said. “I wouldn’t plead to anything if it was going to go on my record because I didn’t take anything.”
Finally, after seven months, prosecutors agreed to release Bill with time served and without a conviction on his record. He had won the battle but was penniless, homeless and spiritually adrift.
Bill found a home at the Mission, where he entered the discipleship program and used his natural leadership qualities, first in the kitchen and later as house manager at the men’s division. He received several job offers but elected to stay because he felt God working on him, especially through the Victorious Life class.
“It really changed me a lot. My faith grew. I learned to look at life differently, with more of a biblical perspective,” he said. “It helped me deal with people and the issues that arise in everyday life.”
In mid-2011, Bill took a job with a warehouse design company and moved out of the Mission. By the end of the year, he launched his own company, Rack and More, which did more than $4 million in sales over the last 12 months. The company, located a few blocks from the Mission, employs 15, including some former residents.
“I have a lot of guys who work for me who have had similar experiences in life where they just can’t find a home or can’t get their lives together for whatever reason,” he said. “My two longest employees were both there when I was there.”
Bill, who lives in Winter Park, admits he probably wouldn’t be as sympathetic to people in need if he hadn’t gone through what he did.
“You go through something like that and it alters your whole perspective on life,” he said. “You know the saying, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ Well I lived it. I understand what these guys have been through and I’ll do whatever I can to help them.”
Bill was able to get back on his feet through the Discipleship program. The O.U.R. Men’s Division has about 40 disciples who receive intensive Christian instruction and mentorship, along with work therapy designed to develop self-discipline, work ethic and accountability. Your gift of $26.82 provides a day of life-changing care for a man in the discipleship program.