Harry Dickerson

I was released from prison after eight and a half years, but it’s not how you start out at the gate, it’s how you finish. I remember there were times I would be on the train and I’d be so embarrassed because I was dirty. And I would look like I had been there the last 5 days and you know people are working and they're fresh and clean and everything. And I used to just look for a hole to crawl into.

It’s a really bad life. People think you’re homeless, you’re on drugs, you’re irresponsible, and all of those things are true. But it’s not an easy life, the damage that can be done to a person psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, if you haven't lived it, you really don't know how much damage a person suffers. And when you make the decision to change your life, you've gotten to a point where you can’t take it no more.

When I got to Project Renewal’s Third Street Shelter there was a guy, we had been upstate  together in prison, he said “They're serious about helping us out man, I’ve been here 6 months and I got my apartment, I’m moving out.” He showed me his keys. He said “you just gotta do what you gotta do man, they'll handle the rest.” So I looked at that and said ok, I’m serious about it, and I just didn't look back. Project Renewal gave me a chance and stood next to me and they're still next to me.

 So today I’ve been in my apartment three years, I’m in my 5th year with the job I’m at, I’ve never worked anywhere for 5 years. The last time I was out not locked up somewhere for this amount of time I think I was 14 years old. My job is important to me I’m doing something, I’m being productive not just to society but to me.