Good Ole’ Boys Part 3
By RHONDA BIGOVICH, TRT Contributing Writer
By choice Raymond Hayden is a resident of Humboldt County, but through a course of his actions his choices had him spending most of his adult life incarcerated.
After losing his parents at an young age, Hayden along with his siblings were shuffled about living with various family members. He was an intelligent boy, but without a stable living situation.
He graduated from Hoopa High School in 1990. Soon after he picked up his diploma he picked up his first charges; driving under the influence (DUI), possession of an illegal firearm and driving a stolen vehicle.
The convictions that followed led him shackled to the California prison System. He found himself caught up in a vicious cycle of exiting and re-entering prison when he received new charges and violations. The cycle ultimately consumed 20 years of his life. At 40 years old, he’d spent half of his life incarcerated.
“The changing point came with seeing 50 to 70 year-old men out on the penitentiary yard,” Hayden said. “I didn’t want to be like that.”
Many of his criminal offenses were due to his use of drugs and alcohol.
“Life is about decisions we make and taking responsibility for those decisions,” Hayden said. “We either suffer, or we learn from the consequences.”
Hayden is now owning up to his responsibilities to himself and making changes to improve his life.
He was discharged from parole on Oct.14, 2010—a monumental event for him. He began the process of recovery using local resources for support. He set a goal and steady work is getting him closer to it.
He called on numerous agencies in Eureka and Hoopa for help; Northern California Indian Development Council (NCIDC), California Department of Rehabilitation and the Renewal Program (VocRehab). They helped set him up with tools, books for school and transportation.
“I want to be a Journeyman electrician and get my contractor’s license,” he said.
He is more than half way through electrician courses with Western Electric Contractors Association where he maintains a 90 percent average.
He works full time for a Eureka based company, Colburn Electric, while attending online classes.
“You have to be persistent and patient and you have to want it,” he said while emphasizing the importance of follow through. “When it comes to requesting services, there’s no running for the door at the first sign of trouble. Smile and come back the next day.”
Hayden recently obtained his first driver’s license after attending an 18 month program for DUI offenders.
In his free time he loves to look for tools and spend quality time with family and friends. He also enjoys learning new skills on the job.
“I love our ceremonial dances,” he said. “Culture helps keep me grounded.”
“I surround myself with positive people, and do positive things with my time.”
“My advice, for those willing to listen is, ‘live and learn’ is a cliché. If a loved one offers you advice, try not to take it as them bossing you around. Instead, listen with an open mind,” he said. “Not all lessons are ones you want to learn on your own.”