I learned how to be an accomplished and independent man with the help of the YMCA.
At 13 years old I began using drugs and alcohol. I wanted to be a gangster. I thought that drinking, hanging out with older kids, and doing drugs was the quickest way to be one. Over the next several years I was in and out of juvenile detention for fighting and drug related crimes. I was kicked out of every place I lived and got my girlfriend pregnant. My drug use escalated.
By the age of 20 I had nothing left. I was homeless, addicted to drugs and alcohol and all alone on the streets. Through a local social service agency I happened to find transitional housing at the YMCA's Young Adults in Transition housing program. It was a life changing experience. While living there staff suggested I start going to AA meetings. For over a year I attended meetings and continued to use, but began to find a sense of community and support for the first time in my life. People in my situation always feel really lonely and the Y's case managers listen, support, and understand when no one else is there. The connections I have had with my case managers have saved me.
I'm now almost 24 years old and just celebrated two years of sobriety. I continue to be involved with the Y through the Therapeutic Housing Program and their Center for Young Adults. I'm a full-time student at Seattle Central Community College and have earned Phi Theta Kappa status. I received full custody of my six year old son in December of 2010 and have been an exemplary father. And I'm living independently (for close to three years now) in my own apartment with my son and brother.
The Y showed me my own strength and now that strength is mine to own, use and capitalize on. My family would have supported me if they could have but the Y stepped in and offered the support and encouragement every person deserves.