Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Testimonial Of Paul Gaspard

Paul Gaspard was born in New York City, New York on November 17, 1959. He grew up in an upwardly mobile African-American middle class family those point of origin was New Orleans, Louisiana who moved to “The Big Apple” to improve their living standards. This did happen and Paul’s father advanced from the ranks of a common laborer to the New York Public Service Commission professional position as a labor moderator. Gaspard senior then used the higher wages he had acquired to speculate in real estate finally ending up as the owner of 13 apartment buildings in the New York City area.

Paul relates that he had a happy childhood with a stay at home mother who was always an encouragement and interested in his well being. The family was Roman Catholic at this time and went to church often. Paul was educated the Catholic school system until Grade 8 and served as an altar boy at church. He attended public school until Grade 12 when he dropped out for business reasons, but quickly obtained his GED and attended “State University” on 42nd Street in New York City where he received an Associate of Science Degree in “Social Science Labor.” Paul next joined Union Local #3 as one of the few selected when the Union, “Open Books” program allowed new members. He said that Union membership translated into a job rate of $24.50 per hour.

As a young man Paul had also developed an interest in music and says that by the time he was 12 years old his parents had encouraged his hobby by turning the basement of their home into a “D. J. Studio” full of expensive equipment. Later as a teenager and adult Paul learned the necessary skills to become a D.J a night clubs that provided him with drinks free of charge. Thus by day Paul worked a good trade in Electrical Construction and by night combined recreation and work as a D.J. and the money came rolling into his bank account.

At age 13 Paul fathered a child. This caused much concern in the family and he said that it was a factor in the divorce of his parents some years later. This affair was a turning point for Paul in that he began to drink at this early age. He relates that alcohol acted as a “Gateway Drug” and he begin to smoke Marijuana and take LSD as a teen. Later Paul began to use cocaine in the form of smoking “Crack” which he relates was a very expensive addiction to finance. At one point, for example, his savings of about $132,000 literally went up in smoke.

In the 1990s Paul began to travel to Florida to work as his addiction became more intense. In 2000 he received a terrible blow when both his beloved parents died within six months of one another. He said he “Went Crazy” for a period of time and did not smoke or drink. In 2003 Paul went to live with an Aunt in New Orleans in an attempt to end his drug addiction, but relapsed within a short period. Paul came back to Central Florida after this and continued the downward spiral of drug addiction. In 2005 he found himself living at the Coalition for the Homeless in downtown Orlando and sleeping on the concrete floor there for $1.00 a night even though he was earning upwards of $200 a day as a skilled worker with the rest going to support his cocaine addiction.

Paul’s spiritual turning point happened one night at the Coalition when he began to think about how ashamed his parents would have been if they could only see what he had become. He prayed to God to forgive his sin and felt a great peace and hope come over him. The next morning, which was a Sunday, February 14, 2005, he was told of the “Good News” Ministry in a church near the Coalition that served breakfast and the Gospel and began to walk towards the church. At first he thought of drinking the two last beers he had in his backpack but instead gave them away. At the “Good News” he made contact with Central Care Mission and Director William Lowry and was admitted.

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