I like to tell people that I came to ASC to get a change of clothes and walked out with a change in life.
In the winter of 2005, I'd just gotten out of jail. I was living in a "cardboard condo"—an empty box on a park bench. I needed clothes, and a guy I knew from the streets told me about the Clothing Room at ASC.
My first contact with ASC was great. After I got some pants, shirts, and a sweater, an ASC staff person asked me about myself.
I told her I didn't want to get high anymore because I was tired of living that life. I didn't want free time because I didn't want to get high. She told me to try out ASC's poetry workshop, health trainings, and recovery groups. From there, I learned about the Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP).
I was interested in PREP because I thought it would give me more stability. So, instead of hanging out in the streets, I went to my PREP classes and other services at ASC. ASC gave me a reason to stop getting high by giving me something better to focus on.
PREP helped me get back into the workforce. When I graduated from PREP, I started doing outreach. I learned how to be responsible and on time, how to handle my emotions, how to put my issues on the shelf, and how to listen. Then I became a Case Management Advocate, helping people with HIV to make doctors' appointments, talk to their doctors, and find housing. It's rewarding to help other people the way ASC helped me.
Around here, we like to say that ASC stands for "Always Something Changes." Through ASC, my life has changed. Today, I am a man who has taken back his life. I'm strengthened, steadfast, and productive in all I do.