My childhood was unpredictable and scary. When I was eight, my mom was murdered outside a bar in southeast Portland, forcing my older brother and two sisters to care for me since my father wasn’t around. I skipped school, stole things, and started drinking and using drugs. In and out of jail, couch surfing, I left nothing but wreckage behind.
Like most homeless people in Old Town, my girlfriend Jennifer and I would use the Transition Projects Day Center to shower, do laundry, and just get indoors. I was not a model participant and sometimes lashed out in response to my situation. Transition Projects still welcomed me.
In October 2014, I made a decision to make a change. Once I completed an addiction recovery program, Transition Projects took a chance and hired me to work in one of their shelters. I then enrolled in the Mentor Program, which is designed for people like me who want to help others overcome the kind of challenges I faced.
Today, I live in a studio apartment with Jennifer and our pup Taco. My current position – peer health navigator – lets me work with people living on the streets. Each day, I look forward to helping people make the changes necessary to turn their lives around.