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My Generation

Back in the Game

Orlando Ward's journey from cardboard box to corner office

Homeless advocate and executive Orlando Ward understands the 90,000 people on Los Angeles' "Skid Row" better than most. Today, he's the vice president of operations at L.A.'s Midnight Mission, a nonprofit organization that offers food, medical care, counseling and job placement — but he was once homeless himself.

See also: Stand up for kids.

An all-American kid in middle-class Los Angeles, Ward excelled at basketball and won a scholarship to Stanford. Sidelined by an injury, however, he lost his identity. After graduation, recreational drinking led to addiction, and Ward eventually landed on Skid Row.

Though he had tried rehab before, Ward says Midnight Mission's focus on self-sufficiency, purpose and building self-worth through activity led him from rehab to recovery to volunteering at the shelter. When he was rewarded with a paying job, Ward eventually worked his way to the executive level. My Generation tells how Ward got back in the game.

You may also like: Jane Fonda: In her "third act" and loving it.

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