My pardon, to whom it may concern...
Updated: Oct 22
As the founder of My Brother's House, I'd like to share my pardon letter. This was a pivotal point in my life, and I hope it is inspirational to someone in a similar situation - Ron Yocca
To whom it may concern
My name is Ronald Yocca and I am writing to you seeking a pardon for my past criminal offenses. Since my convictions, thirty to forty years ago, I have strived to learn from my mistakes and become a better man because of it. I own my own business that I have self maintained for thirty years, I strive to not only better myself but the community that I once ignored and mistreated, and instead of committing crimes, I commit acts of kindness and support for those who need it as I once did. I truly believe that I have learned from my past transgressions and that I should be pardoned for my many offenses.
I have dedicated myself to be the best parent I could be, taking bits from the limited good role models I had growing up. I have had to step back into time as a child and a young man, and ask myself what would have made a positive difference in my life and attitude towards doing the right thing and believing in myself. So, I take that and try to stay in touch with being the insecure, scared and vulnerable child I was that led me to making poor decisions, and then try to instill all of the life lessons I have learned into my children to keep them from making the same mistakes. When my son was born, I realized for the first time that I loved someone more than myself and I tried to put him in front of everything else. But I was an arrogant and naive twenty-five year old in the middle of a vicious and unmerciful diseased addiction. I was lost and alone and didn't know the way out; but my son gave me hope! After ten years of being in recovery, I was blessed with a second chance at being a parent again. With-my daughter, I finally had most of the tools and self-knowledge instilled into me to know how to be a better parent than I was with my son. Instead of being ignorant and selfish, I became open-minded and filled with unconditional love. Throughout the years, I have tried to shield my child from all the ugly that is in this world around us, while also teaching her from my own mistakes and giving her the tools to navigate life.
I am very proud of my companies and the houses I build or rehabilitate. I find it therapeutic to take something worn down and dilapidated and bring it to life again. While my source of income is construction and owning several rental properties, many of my closest friends know that this is not my main job. They are a way of supporting my family first, and then to give me the ability to help others such as inmates from SCIP and the Renewal Center I have been involved with for twenty-eight years. I see it as a blessing to be a blessing to others and really take that to heart. During the bad part of my past, I couldn't even help myself Most of the time I cry when somebody says something good about who I am today. I think a part of me thinks people still think that I am a bad person. So to be recognized as someone who gives back to the community and helps others to try and make their lives better-it's the best feeling in the world.
Early at the Gateway Rehabilitation Center here in Pittsburgh, I met two men named Mickey and Joe who were just like me, but who bad several years in clean time. They both gave me a job, but more importantly gave me hope and so much more. They would pick me up for work in a new Cadillac Seville, buy me lunch, and then take me to meetings during work breaks and then after work was :finished too. A lot of times they would take me home to my pan::nt's home where I was staying and would often sit in the driveway for hours just explaining the basics of life in recovery. They taught me about a God that loved me all the time and that carried me through the darkest part of life; through several overdoses and near death experiences. I remember sitting in the middle of the backseat behind them leaning on the back of their seats listening to them in earnest. I was like a little kid at Christmas time looking at all the bright Christmas lights on all the houses. I was so excited about life in those moments. I had new clothes, a haircut, money in my pocket, and no obsession to ruin my life “today”. And then it happened, I asked “What are you guys helping me for? I don't get it, why are you helping me? I'm just a lowlife junkie, liar, thief scumbag? Why are you loving me? Teaching me? What do you want in return?”' They both looked at each other with a satisfying and spiritual kind of a glean in their eyes and one said to the other, " Should we tell him?". I sat back in the backseat wondering what they were going to say. I had no idea how profound of an answer they were about to give me and that it would impact my life forever. ''You know what we want in return for helping you, teaching you, loving you unconditionally?," they said. "We want you to take all the things we give to you, and give it to somebody else." I like to joke around and say that I get high every time I tell this story. It's something that I never want to forget. I like to think I'm fulfilling my end of the deal.
It's so hard to put into words how I have changed over the years, how l"ve learned from mistakes forty plus years ago that still haunt me. But how can you believe what I am saying in words? On paper, I am a convicted felon. a liar, thief, dope fiend. All that comes to mind is the wise words of a good friend of mine who is the ex-director of Renewal Inc. Steve D. " You don't have to believe what I say, just watch what I do! Watch what I’ve done! Don't look at where I've been. but where I am going!". I honestly don't know how I came from a wonderful home as a young boy and went out of control around the age of fourteen. ** I wish I could go back in time and talk to that boy I was. Tell him all the things I know. What I've learned.** I have spent many years in counseling trying to better myself, to understand why I did the things I did. Trying to forgive myself. Everytime I walk out of the prisons I volunteer at I know, every time I comfort a suffering addict I know. Everytime I give someone a job in need I know. I know why my God graced me with the miracle of change, Watch what I do!
Having a felony still on my record bas affected me in so many ways. There is only one way I can describe it to you. It reminds me of how I felt for decades with the undermining smear of shame and depression from having Hepatitis C. I learned to ignore it some of the time, until something would remind me, like my ex comparing me to the apple in the Garden of Eden. I was yet again reminded when on the first date with a female police officer, I was informed that she was not permitted to date a felon and that the relationship bad to be concealed. She was afraid to even kiss me! There bas been so much shame from both of these products of my past addiction. Well, I am grateful and still honestly in disbelief to say that I am cured of Hepatitis C. I was informed about a new treatment in 2013 and as of August 25, 2015, it has been undetectable for over a year! Thank you God!
I have never quite believed I would ever receive a pardon, much like I never expected to be free from Hepatitis C...
But then again, I BELIEVE in miracles!
Thank you for your time and consideration.