Ex-Montana inmate turning his life around, giving back to the community

Posted at 10:08 AM, Jun 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-11 12:08:06-04

GREAT FALLS – Victor Padilla made his mark on the Parkdale community in Great Falls by giving free haircuts to children and homeless people at a park last week. Looking at him, you see a family man with two kids and a wife, but it wasn’t always like that for him.

“I was working at the Montana Club at that time and the sheriff’s coroner came to me,” said Padilla. “She sat me down and she said, ‘At six o’clock this morning, your son passed away’." 

Padilla’s one-year-old son Riley died in 2013 he was left searching for a way to fill that hole in his heart, "I pretty much coped with it by using drugs and negativity and running from the cops and getting into it with the cops and just being a rebellion.”

Not long after that, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting a police officer, but that’s when things started looking up. “I made a self-choice to say, ‘You know what? I’m going to get out of prison, but I’m not going to enter the community until I’m ready to enter it.’”

Now he’s being the change he wants to see in Parkdale — a low-income housing complex.

“I’m out here to prove all those guys wrong and say, ‘You know what, that’s all I knew until I made something else’," Padilla said. “You will always stay the same if you don’t decide to change."

"I decided a long time ago that that’s not the life that I want. That’s not the life I want for my community, that’s not the life I want for my children, that’s not the life that I want to include my wife in," Padilla added.

By being a role model for the younger generation, he hopes they’ll never go through what he did, and that they’ll ask for help if they’re struggling. “You just got to reach out. Somebody will grab your hand. But if you don’t reach out, nobody is going to know you need help.”

Padilla is planning to hold a back-to-school event in the near future. We will let you know when we get those details.

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