Michael Koboski woke up on July 13 and knew a change was needed.
The 49-year-old Ventura resident had been living on the streets since he was a teenager. He has walked all over the South Coast over the years – and has made the 75-mile trek from Santa Barbara to Santa Maria at least six times. For the first time in quite a while, things are looking up for Mr. Koboski. As a member of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s 12-month Residential Treatment Program, he is rediscovering himself one day at a time.
“I’m learning a lot right now – not only God’s word, but how to manage my life and be sober,” Mr. Koboski told the News-Press, as he took a break from serving out salad plates during the annual Thanksgiving feast. “I always thought I would stop drinking and get sober and then I won’t mess up my job and everything would be productive and just fall into place… It never happened like that, and now I’m finding out there’s a lot more to life than just getting sober.”
Now four months into the recovery program, Mr. Koboski admits maybe he didn’t know himself after all.
“The Rescue Mission has helped me a lot in rediscovering myself and giving me a place to get clean and sober,” he said. “Not only that, but go through classes, have three meals a day, a shower and clean clothes… All my needs are fulfilled. I’m just totally stoked.”
The Rescue Mission’s treatment program is a faith-centered, 12-step social model program. Residents are provided with a living and learning environment that addresses the issues of addition in a holistic way. The core of the program centers on relationships with God, others and self. While he is finding joy and purpose through sobriety, Mr. Koboski said things haven’t always come easy.
“The toughest part has been dealing with myself,” he said with a laugh. “Dealing with having to be sober everyday and getting to know myself again.
“It took a long time for me to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with what I saw. I’m still not fully there, but I’m working on it.”
Mr. Koboski now wakes up daily at 5 a.m. He then helps feed breakfast to the homeless, attends Bible studies with the pastors at Calvary Chapel and is now beginning the “Genesis Counseling” portion of the class, where he and others immerse themselves in the first book of the Bible.
“I’ve been a roofer for 30 years, so this is all kind of new to me,” he admits. “But I’m willing to do whatever they ask.”
Mr. Koboski says he has developed a strong bond with other members of the program.
“These are all brothers now,” he said. “We all work and help each other. It truly is a system of ‘we are our brother’s keeper.’”
Mr. Koboski said he sees many familiar faces around the Rescue Mission throughout the week. One of his old drinking buddies joined the program last week – and now the two have become sober buddies.
“I give them hope I guess.” He said. “A lot of these homeless people see me and say ‘wow, that’s awesome! Keep it up.’”
While he is learning more about himself, he has also learned more about the word of God than he ever expected.
“I never really read the bible too much, but I talked to Him and had a relationship with Him,” he said. “Now that I’m sober, I do meditation and I walk and talk to Him constantly. It’s got deeper and it’s awesome.”
He encourages others to never give up and always have hope – “the Lord works miracles,” he says.
“It’s one day at a time and my future is unknown, which is kind of exciting,” he said. “This is the first time in 35 years that I’ve been sober this long. Four and a half months…
“I’m looking at completing this mission right now. I know God has something for me in the future.”