Although Evans Gilmore struggled with years of drug and alcohol abuse, and spent more than a decade living on the streets, his tale is one of hope and resilience. Today he is sober, healthy and content, and very grateful to have reunited – after 29 years – with his only daughter, Natalie.
As a young man, Evans played music in a funk rock band in San Diego. His girlfriend thought he could be the next Jimi Hendrix. But, when she got pregnant with Evan’s baby, the storyline changed. In need of a steady paycheck and benefits, Evans joined the U.S. Army. He was sent overseas, and spent 7 years in Italy. Upset that Evans would never achieve rock ‘n roll stardom, his girlfriend severed their relationship, and Evans lost contact with his daughter.
After he was discharged from the Army, Evans returned to California, and tried to reconnect with his girlfriend and his child. Having no luck, he moved to Los Angeles, and found a job with the L.A. County Regional Probations Dept. About this time, he also began experimenting with cocaine. It wasn’t long before his dabbling in “powder” turned into a disabling addiction to rock cocaine.
Soon, he was homeless and living on Skid Row. He spent three years wandering the streets of downtown L.A., and many more years in Pomona, panhandling and living on general relief. Though he entered multiple rehab programs, he always fell back on his old ways. He would work for short periods, and then quit once he had earned enough money to feed his addiction.
Finally, after being diagnosed with schizophrenia, Evans was referred to New Directions’ program for veterans with co-occurring disorders (New Directions North). In nine months he had graduated from the program and was working for NDI as a Service Coordinator.
Now, sober and grounded, Evans was ready to reconnect with his daughter. He did multiple searches on the Internet, but was never able to locate her. As chance would have it, Natalie was trying to contact her father at the same time. She tracked Evans down through New Directions, and after nearly 30 years, father and daughter have reestablished their relationship.
Evans, who now works as a Patient Services Assistant for the VA, seems very content with his new life.
“My main priority is to stay sober, love my family and help others who are struggling with alcohol or drugs,” says Evans. “With the support of New Directions I have been able to accomplish this.”