Beaming graduate David Castillo, right, thanks his higher power and his sponsor, Anthony (left) – Katy St. Clair, Vallejo Times Herald PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

The House of Acts

At the House of Acts, our mission is to create an atmosphere of healing, compassion, and support to individuals and to ensure healthy, livable communities for generations to come.

“Why Are You There, Dude?”

It strikes me as funny! Of all the questions I could be asked about all the work I have ever done, people I have met, places I have visited… when people find out that I am a Counselor at ‘The House of Acts,’ for some reason that becomes the curious topic of conversation!

My first response is always, “Well, why not?” After the resultant pregnant pause that inevitably follows, I will say something like, “It’s a calling. I am supposed to be there…” which undoubtedly contributes nothing but confusion to the discussion.

In reality, I consider myself one of the privileged few to recognize and bear witness to this burgeoning new crisis: a growing epidemic, completely nondiscriminatory, with no consideration of age, race, religion – or profession.

We are amidst a crisis of humanity. More than simply class, race or religious segregation, a generation born into the ‘middle-class struggle’ just a few decades ago, today defines the predominant demographic of homeless, drug afflicted and the hopeless.  With the justice system and the healthcare system privatized as ‘for profit’ industries, what hope do many of these people – do many of our cities have?

This is a crisis, self-inflicted by our insatiable appetite for ever more efficient task efficacy to the exclusion and relegation to the realm of ‘unimportant,’ the very things that make us human beings… the very things that enable us – on a planet of 7.5billion people – not only to survive but to thrive. Ask yourself, “What are those things?”

We are going in the wrong direction…

I am blessed – in so many ways – but right now, I am blessed to be working at the extremes, in the margins, outside the lines. I am privileged to be providing drug counseling and mental health services to gang members, murders, and worse… Those who are suicidal, abandoned by society, cast out. Cast out by society and also by the system in which they have been incarcerated, many of them for the better part of their lives.

I also work with the men and women who bravely serve, keeping said society ‘safe’ from the aforementioned violent offenders. I consider myself privileged to work with the brave men and women of law enforcement who stand up to be counted every single day. Many of whom feel our current shattered system of government has stripped them bare of the very reasons many became ‘servants of peace’ in the first place.


Yes – I work in both worlds – and they ARE NOT mutually exclusive!

“Here is what we seek – a compassion that can stand in awe at what the newsmakers: the ‘lawbreakers’ and the ‘just plain law,’ have to carry, rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.”

I credit Father Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries with the original anecdote. The alterations toward inclusiveness are mine (and I don’t think he’d mind in the least).

This past summer, I wrote an article for the California Narcotic Officer (CNOA) Magazine on suicide prevention in law enforcement. This may come as a shock to many of you, but the pressures and stresses I cite in that article are eerily similar to the experiences of those at the other end of the spectrum.

Yet still; in our so-called western, civilized, first-world society, where everyone “has a voice,” I find that those who yell and complain the loudest, shrieking of tolerance, acceptance, independence, and equality are often the most naive, the most uncaring, the most unaccepting, the most closed-minded, the most intolerant. Sadly devoid of love, compassion, understanding, and acceptance of others – yet delusional and in self-denial, believing they possess those very human qualities in abundance. After all, “It’s all about me…”

I work in the margins, that is where I am most comfortable. I do not go to the margins with the expectation that I will affect change, but rather that the margins will affect change in me.