As a talented point guard in high school, I had tremendous opportunities in front of me. However, the lure of the streets, with their promise of easy money, peer pressure, nightlife, alcohol, and drugs, was simply too much to overcome.
And so began an 11-year revolving door odyssey in and out of jail for typical drug user offenses. I was a poster child for recidivism. In 1990, I was again paroled and everyone, including me, believed that I would be back in jail in short order. However, in less than 1 year, I completely turned my life around and was irreversibly moving in the right direction.
Unlike before, I tapped into a combination of public-private services, training, and mentoring programs. This was the essential difference! Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous provided guidance, direction, and moral support in addressing my underlying addictions. My sponsor provided temporary Oxford-model housing, which both physically removed me from a risky environment and provided mentoring support. Home was truly a safe place.
I was hired for my first real job as a building maintenance worker, which provided the foundation for my career. Additional study and licensing put me in a position to work as chief building engineer at three different companies. I’ve since worked as a real estate agent, developer, entrepreneur, and currently, in the non-profit sector.
I now enjoy the love, support, and respect of my family and friends. I have rebuilt my relationship with my high-school sweetheart, and now the same two teenagers who brought a little girl into this world in 1978 are married, responsible adults. I’m active in a spiritual program, and most importantly, support multiple community recovery organizations and volunteer at the Department of Corrections.
As I’ve been able to quietly, and without fanfare, give back to my community tenfold, I am ever mindful of that spiritual axiom that states that “from those who have received much, much is expected.”