Success story

Making a new life at the VECTORS house

Photo By Tom Angel

Michael Paluck doesn’t look like he spent five years in prison for assault with a deadly weapon. He is a small, quiet guy who talks slowly with a gentle voice. He reminds you more of Mr. Rogers than an ex-con.

But substance abuse had 49-year-old Paluck corkscrewing down a path to divorce, violence, prison and, eventually, homelessness.

Originally from Oroville, Paluck found out about the VECTORS home while in prison and wrote letters to VECTORS in the hope of getting into the program.

The Army veteran was surprised to hear a response after only a few weeks and to be told he was a likely candidate.

After being released from prison in February 2000, Paluck lived for a few weeks at his brother’s house in Chico until an opening at the VECTORS house came available in March.

During his 10-month stay at the house, the former boiler room operator, with assistance from the VECTORS staff, fought for his pension, his continued sobriety and the custody of his teenage sons.

When asked why he needed 10 months, Paluck smiled and said people do not understand how long it takes for someone who was once homeless to get back on his feet.

“There is a long time lost with these guys,” Paluck said. “People need a deep understanding that it doesn’t heal in a day.”

Now almost eight years sober, Paluck is a student at Butte College training to be a substance abuse counselor. He lives in Chico with his sons.

VECTORS was so beneficial to Paluck that he felt he needed to try to do something to repay what he felt he owed the program. So he started interning for the organization.

“I owe them more than I could calculate,” he said. “What’s a new life worth?”