The people who make Palm Springs like no place else
Ken Moses knows what it’s like to pick himself back up again, and he’s devoted his life to picking other people up from their lowest points, and also picking up their pets. Ken became sober on Christmas Day in 2019, just months before the world was plunged into the COVID-19 pandemic. He says, “The pandemic has ushered in stress, isolation, and economic upheaval — all known triggers for addiction and relapse — while robbing many people of treatment options and support systems.” He found the vibrant and supportive recovery community of Palm Springs, which helped lead him to find his new purpose, Pets in Recovery.
Ken says he felt like he lost his identity after no longer being a professional bassoon player. Then, last spring, he got the phone call that one of his friends had relapsed. Ken tried to get him to a treatment center, but his friend didn’t know where to leave his dogs. After spending all night searching, the dogs were sent to a kill shelter, and later Ken got the call that his friend had overdosed and died. Ken says, “The experience was devastating, and I kept thinking about what could have been done to save his life as well as the lives of his precious animals.” Then, while meditating on his friend’s life and what could be done to honor him, he looked at his animals, and he knew there was a need that he could fill. In recovery, he often says, “We talk about how our actions affect others.” But Ken started to wonder: “How can our actions affect our pets?”
There are many things that can discourage people from getting help, and Ken wants to do what he can within the Palm Springs recovery network to remove some of those barriers. Whether going into treatment or a homeless shelter, an extended hospital stay, or spending time behind bars, they can be sure their pets are cared for. Palm Springs has a no-kill animal shelter, but they only take permanent fosters. Ken has built up a dedicated club of about 30 people who sign up to foster pets, donate food, money, and even leashes to the pets under his care. Pets in Recovery started about four months ago when Ken announced that he was offering the service in an AA meeting. It has since grown through word of mouth to serve the entire Coachella Valley. Every volunteer simply sends him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or a text to 760-992-4413 to be added to the network. Right now, Ken is raising money via PayPal or Zelle to continue to fund Pets in Recovery, and if you’d like to donate, just call or text.
Get to know Ken below.
OCCUPATION: I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and started playing the bassoon in sixth grade. I got my Bachelor of Music Education from Baylor University and a Master of Music from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. For 25 years, I was a professional bassoon player and music professor, performing in orchestras across the United States and Russia (I was one of the first Americans allowed to perform full time in the Russian National Symphony in the early 1990s).
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN THE DESERT? 20 years
NEIGHBORHOOD: El Rancho Vista Estates
WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE? In 2002, I was Professor of Music/ Bassoon and Woodwind Area Chairperson for the School of Music, University of Wisconsin Madison. During a very frigid Wisconsin February, I took a week’s vacation to Palm Springs, my first ever visit here. The moment the plane began to descend, I felt I was coming home — the site of those majestic mountains embracing the desert landscape — I felt a sense of serenity and peace I’d never felt from any place on Earth. In the performing arts, we usually live wherever the work is available. I was so depressed and very lonely living and working in Madison. After a week in Palm Springs, I decided I would take the leap of faith, resign my position, move here and find something else to do. After 20 years living here, I have never regretted that decision. It literally saved my life. I got my real estate license in 2005, but currently am not practicing. I wanted to focus on getting sober in 2019 and be of service to the recovery community by running Pets in Recovery. I am looking for the next opportunity.
DO YOU HAVE FAMILY HERE? No, “all my ex’s live in Texas!” We have our biological family and our logical or chosen family in the recovery community. Today, I have a wonderful family of other recovered community members who love and support me unconditionally. We are very close.
DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY BY WHICH YOU LIVE? The 12 steps of AA provide a road map toward spiritual living. I try to treat others as I want to be treated and be of service. Three things I live by are: I have genuine regret for the harm I have caused in my past and promptly admit when wrong and make direct amends; I express gratitude every day for the blessings received; I don’t worry too much about tomorrow, other than trying to be a better version of myself than I was yesterday.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT? Wow! That is a difficult one because I have so many. I love the abundant amount of locally owned restaurants here in Palm Springs. I have a passion for cooking and love trying out new places. I have fallen in love with one new place at the corner where South Palm Canyon and East Palm Canyon divide, Gambino’s Creperie! It’s a little hole-in-the-wall place that makes these savory crepes that are so delicious; it’s become one of our favorite locally owned restaurants. My partner and I take our three rescue dogs there on Sundays, sit on the patio to enjoy a chicken pesto jalapeño crepe,” and then walk over to Kreem for dessert!
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST ISSUE FACING OUR COMMUNITY? Currently, I believe the homeless situation and gangs are of great concern, along with the issues they face — untreated mental health issues, and drug and alcohol addiction. I pray for the ones who still suffer and hope that we as a community can come together in ways that can assist these individuals toward a better life with improved housing and treatment options. One of the amazing organizations in LA is Homeboy Industries. The program is intended to assist high-risk youth, former gang members, and the recently incarcerated with a variety of free programs, such as mental health counseling, legal services, tattoo removal, curriculum and education classes, work-readiness training, and employment services. A distinctive aspect of Homeboy Industries is its structure of a multifaceted social enterprise and social business. I have always hoped for a similar organization for our community.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO OR PLACE TO GO IN THE DESERT? What better way to remind ourselves of living in the present moment than being around those who do? And for me, it’s my three dogs. One of the ways my partner and I “unplug” is we take our three rescue dogs to an open area of the desert, just north of the I-10 off Varner Road. We unleash the beasts and let them run free! The joy they exhume running free, being one with nature, centers my soul and reminds me of this amazingly beautiful place we are so fortunate to live in. The stresses of life slip away, and I feel recharged once more.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL PEOPLE ABOUT PALM SPRINGS THAT THEY MIGHT NOT ALREADY KNOW? Palm Springs has a very special recovery community, large in numbers and very active. Anyone who has found our place among this incredible group of people will tell you it is a unique aspect of any place they have lived before. I always thought the breathtaking natural beauty had a lot to do with it. Still, the people here make being sober such an incredible and unique experience for anyone seeking a better life. I’m so grateful to live here.
WHAT’S YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE? When I got sober, I decided also to change my health: mind, body, and soul. I have a passion for fitness, and I train daily at World Gym, off Sunrise and Vista Chino. I have become dedicated to bodybuilding. I am an amateur chef and enjoy researching and preparing mostly plant-based dishes. And as I mentioned before, “treading the road of happy destiny” is my main goal in life, practicing spiritual principles in all my affairs and being of service. I am so grateful for the life I have today! Living in Palm Springs for the past 20 years has given me a life beyond my wildest dreams.
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