Meet our Clients!
At Project Renewal we believe that transformation starts because the men and women who come to us for help make a choice to change their lives. Their stories are a gift they share with you.
You’re a product of your environment. I grew up homeless. I was homeless as a child. I was homeless at nine. I went to 42nd st. in the 70’s, you know how that was. That’s where I grew up at. To be honest I didn't think I would make it past 25, at the rate that I was going. That is one of the reasons I turned to drugs.
I dream about changing policies, HRA in particular, some policies governing financial aid for students, stuff like that. So that’s why I am going into public administration. It's Like Gandhi said, “be the change you wish to see in the world” so if I can change and get a few other people to change then its like a domino effect.
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.
I used drugs for a lot of years. I started using at fifteen. I came from Puerto Rico for a new life. I didn’t know how to speak English. The first word I learned is “dope.” I have a friend – she studied Culinary Arts at Project Renewal. She talked to me about this school and I told her, “I want to go.” I said, “I want to cook. I want to be a chef.”
My girlfriend got pregnant after we got out of high school. She was about 19. I wound up getting a job, and I wound up hustling, selling dope, stuff like that. I got married at 22, I had two kids then. At 29, my wife died in a car accident. We had four kids. I was really close to her and I really missed her. I started drinking alcohol heavily every day. Still smoked marijuana, then I was smoking crack. I stopped paying my bills and lost my job.
I grew up in Washington DC, and at a very young age I experimented with drugs. I come from a very big family, nine brothers and two sisters, but I just didn’t fit in, even with my own family, and I felt so uncomfortable with people. I had very low self esteem. So I started experimenting with drugs really early and it gave me a mask, if you will, and I could do things like other people. It worked for a while. I never finished school. I went all the way to the eleventh grade. As long as I had the street smarts I could survive, you know, which was a bad mistake because the deeper I got into drugs the harder it was for me to do anything else.