Why Volunteers of America, Southwest

Throughout our 30 years of service, Volunteers of America, Southwest has witnessed countless triumphs. We have effectively helped numerous men and women overcome the barriers associated with mental illness, substance abuse and criminality. We believe that the triumph over adversity is not only inspiring, but it is the most important measure of our success. We are grateful to be able to share our success and the success of others on this website.

The success story below is a true account of the lives we have changed through our dedication to service.

Cyndi and Ron

Cyndi and Ron’s lives were torn apart. They were addicted to drugs and alcohol and their main priority was getting high. Parents of four children, the pair couldn’t give them the love they needed. They had hit rock bottom and were losing all hope. Until one day, while sitting in their room, they realized it was time for a change.

“We both looked at each other and we knew this was it. We were tired of feeling empty.”

Together, they made a pact to get clean. They sought help and fought the addiction. And while it wasn’t easy, they both succeeded in becoming sober. Cyndi and Ron regrouped as parents and made sure their children were well taken care of and received all the love and attention they deserved. After getting their lives back on track, they further committed themselves to pulling others away from the grip of addiction, even as Cyndi’s own health began to deteriorate.

Cyndi’s heart began failing, and was finally unable to pump blood on its own. Still, she felt fortunate to be alive. Once living for the moment, Cyndi was now living for life.

As a counselor with Volunteers of America’s Alcohol and Drug Services program, she witnessed many individuals undergoing a pain that was all too familiar. Cyndi became an advocate for parolees seeking treatment, and even established herself as a reliable source among area courts, who have since released inmates into her care.

“Being in this position, I am allowed to do what I was meant to do. I offer choice to people who often don’t know they have one.”

Cyndi extends the possibilities of options and opportunity to her clients in treatment, which sometimes pushes her own pain to the background. Her goal: to see a client all the way through to continued support. More than once, to prove her commitment to a client, Cyndi has made heroic efforts, including two-hour drives over the mountains of El Centro to San Diego, in an effort to connect clients—or “family” as she often refers to them—with the treatment they need.

Cyndi has a heart of service. Everything she does comes from her heart. This is something she’s been able to show her children during her 18 years of recovery. One of Cyndi’s greatest joys is knowing she has had the opportunity to make things right as a mom, and now as a grandmother.

“They are so proud of the person I’ve become, and the life changes that I’ve made. My son once said, ‘Mom, I brag about you all the time.’ It’s something I had to earn from my children and you really don’t know how happy that makes me feel.”

Today, Cyndi needs a heart transplant, but it is unlikely she will find the right match. Despite this adversity, she has not wavered. Volunteers of America, Southwest Chief Operating Officer states, “I’m sure Cyndi has given her heart away to so many, that it could no longer work on its own.” Our mission is to continue inspiring hope through our ministry of service, and providing individuals and families with the tools to improve their quality of life -- just like Cyndi!

“I know this is my last stop in life – and I’m okay with that. I’m grateful and have no regrets. I’ve found the life I always wanted and needed, and I have helped others find theirs.” -- Cyndi