Life wasn’t always easy. As a kid, I moved between my dad and my grandparents’ house. My uncle would beat my brother and me, and my granddad died of a heart attack right in front of me. When my brother entered gang life, I followed in his footsteps.
At 12 years old, I was on probation, going to school when I felt like it, and gang banging. By high school, I did meth and drank regularly, fought constantly, and was only concerned about earning respect in the streets. No one messed with me. I was an angry, hateful person.
After my dad died of a heart attack, it went from bad to worse. Life didn’t matter to me. I loved my family, but I stayed away from them. My brother left the gang lifestyle behind and wanted the same for me, but I did whatever it took to get dope. Prison became my escape. In jail, I didn’t do meth, ate and slept on a regular schedule. Anytime I was tired of the streets, I got violations so I could rest my head.
The last time I went to prison, I was tired of everything. I had nothing more to prove. I had no respect for myself or anyone else. On Nov 3, 2010, I went to see my parole officer and did something that I’d never done before – I asked for help.
My parole officer got me into a residential program called BASN. I went willing to change, I had to give myself a chance. I didn’t know who I was, so I listened and learned.
I began to build a foundation for my life. I got a sponsor, a job picking up garbage on the side of the freeway, and had a bed to sleep in.
I’d heard about the Goodwill Apprentice Program from a friend and decided to apply.
When my job contract for picking up garbage was completed, I didn’t know what I’d do. I thought I’d have to go back to the streets to survive, but just as that thought entered my mind, my phone rang and it was Goodwill. Goodwill hired me as a donation attendant. I couldn’t believe the relief I felt!
On August 4, 2012, I started work at the Concord-Clayton store and I’ve been there ever since. Goodwill took a chance on me and believed I could do the job. I will be forever grateful for that.
Today, I’m accountable for my actions. At Goodwill I’ve learned the meaning of teamwork and responsibility. I’ve learned how to communicate. I have a stable and sturdy structure in my life and I’ve grown in ways I never thought possible.