Former drug addict Pays it Forward to pastor who helped change his life

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Paul Vargas' life was out of control, but then he met Church on the Street pastor Walt Rattray, who brought Vargas to the Phoenix Dream Center. (Source: 3TV/CBS) Paul Vargas' life was out of control, but then he met Church on the Street pastor Walt Rattray, who brought Vargas to the Phoenix Dream Center. (Source: 3TV/CBS)
The non-profit organization helps hundreds of homeless, low-income, struggling people get back on their feet by giving them a place to live, clothing and the job training they need to turn their lives around. (Source: 3TV/CBS) The non-profit organization helps hundreds of homeless, low-income, struggling people get back on their feet by giving them a place to live, clothing and the job training they need to turn their lives around. (Source: 3TV/CBS)
"This is what I am called to do and so when I see people's lives change, that's exciting because I get to be part of their lives," said pastor Rattray. (Source: 3TV/CBS) "This is what I am called to do and so when I see people's lives change, that's exciting because I get to be part of their lives," said pastor Rattray. (Source: 3TV/CBS)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Paul Vargas is doing well these days. He recently got married and the couple is expecting a baby. But life wasn't always so rosy.

Years back, Vargas lost his job, his house and was living on the street with a drug addiction. He then ended up in jail.

 "Anger set in," said Vargas. "Bitterness set in. I didn't know how to make sense of anything." 

Vargas' life was out of control, but then he met Church on the Street pastor Walt Rattray, who brought Vargas to the Phoenix Dream Center.

The non-profit organization helps hundreds of homeless, low-income, struggling people get back on their feet by giving them a place to live, clothing and the job training they need to turn their lives around.

"It absolutely saved my life," said Vargas. "If I'd have went back to the streets, it would have devoured me the way it was devouring me already."

Vargas has seen what an impact pastor Walt has had in the community for decades, without asking anything in return, so he reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to Pastor Rattray.

"You couldn't pay me to do this," said pastor Walt Rattray. "It's so difficult, but you couldn't stop me. Does that make sense?"

Vargas and a group of other Dream Center volunteers got together recently to surprise pastor Rattray.

"We've reached out to Channel 5," said Vargas. "You've done this for so many years and done it for 40 years and continue to do it, teaching us how to do it. On behalf of all of us and Channel 5, we want to reward you with $500."

"This is what I am called to do and so when I see people's lives change, that's exciting because I get to be part of their lives," said pastor Rattray.

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Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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