POSTED: Friday, March 11, 2011 - 9:02am
UPDATED: Saturday, March 31, 2012 - 8:03am
PHARR- The Upper Valley is filled with criminal activity from drug smuggling to gang violence and getting out of that lifestyle can be a challenge. There's one place in Pharr that is willing to help and hopefully change the lives those who want to walk away from criminal activity.
Francisco Soto JR. used to be a drug trafficker here in the Valley and was addicted to drugs for 25 years of his life.
"I got to a point where I didn't have enough money no more and I had a family to support and a drug addiction to support also. so after that i couldn't support my habit so what I did I started trafficking drugs you know up north. maybe two weeks every month to support my habit. I was doing drugs weeks straight, two or three days straight. finish up and it lead my to steal also you know from my family because I couldn't support my habit no more," said Soto.
He said his addiction began when he was eleven years old and started with a cigarette and then it climaxed with the use of heroin, marijuana and crack. He lost his family to his addiction and hit rock bottom at a jail in Indiana. He made a decision after reading a book about man called Freddie Garcia who was another former drug addict and former gang member who changed his life through Christianity.
"I got to do something with my life. and they told me that Jesus is changing lives so it was right there in jail where i asked for forgiveness to God, you know and i accepted Jesus Christ in my life and that made a turning point in my life. When i got out jail it inspired me to live a new life," said Soto.
A new life is what Outcry in the Barrio aims for daily. Rolando Valdez is the director of the organization.
"It's a program to help drug addicts, alcoholics, gang members, criminal people that wants to change," said Valdez.
Valdez is a former gang member from Los Angeles and was also addicted to drugs. He said he had the desire to change but didn't know how until he met Freddie Garcia in San Antonio and entered the program.
"So I decided to give a chance went into this place to this program back in '79 and you know what Jesus Christ changed my life i haven't been the same person since then then i decided to use my life to help other drug addicts gang members so they can start a brand new life," said Valdez.
The organization hopes to curb violence and drug distribution through their efforts of evangelism in the neighborhoods where it's seen the most. Valdez says people who come have a place to stay, food and spiritual support. According to Valdez, they have helped nearly 200 people last year and hopes they continue changing lives and making our community better.
For more information on Outcry in the Barrio you can contact them at: 956-702-2781