United States Air Force veteran David Abeyta's life spiraled out of control more than 20 years ago when he lost a child, his wife and his job and was left with an ongoing battle with Hepatitis C.
Abeyta, 51, shared his story with an organization dedicated to transitioning people from homelessness to stability, SRO Housing Corp. The group is providing housing for Abeyta in Gateways Apartments as he studies to become a drug counselor.
What Abeyta did not know was that his mother, Mary Schoefield, 71, of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., was looking for him. Neither did his brothers. One of them came across Abeyta's story on SRO Housing's website in January.
"We never stopped looking.... My face has his road map, my hair has the dust of the walks I've taken looking for him," Schoefield said in a news release.
On Friday, just in time for Mother's Day, Abeyta's mother and stepfather drove seven hours for a reunion in his new place at Gateways Apartments in downtown Los Angeles' skid row.
Mother and son embraced, and Schoefield's eyes welled. They nestled at the foot of Abeyta's bed, flipping through the pages of a scrapbook his mother made. The pictures showed a smiling Abeyta dressed in a blue sweater as a child and him older, dressed in his Air Force uniform when he enlisted in 1981.
In a statement, Abeyta compared homelessness to being in a dark well where those looking in pray for you, lower food or pass judgment and say your situation is deserved. But SRO reaches in and pulls you out, he said.
"I'm very proud to be a part of something so wonderful," Abeyta wrote.
Next, Abeyta plans to see his two older brothers again.