I wanted to take this time and take advantage of an opportunity to talk about an organization that gave me a chance to not only do what I love and that is helping/teaching others but a place that helped me to gain my freedom from drugs and the mental wars that always was in my mind. I have often been told that our experiences are the best teachers of life. For many years, I never knew what this meant until I was able to give back to others, with what had been given to me.

On January 16, 2012, Positive Impact Health Centers (PIHC) gave me a chance to be able to change my life around. At this point in my life, I was deep in meth addiction and constantly wanting to kill myself as well as letting HIV live my life. I was so unhappy with life that I wanted to literally die. My family and friends had all pulled away from me and I had no where and no one to turn to. The first couple of years of my recovery journey I spent a lot of time focused on me by learning about my addiction, mental illness and medical diagnosis. I had finally come to terms that there was a better way of living, but I needed to learn about it. During my journey, I had the chance to meet others that shared the same life experiences that I had. We started building a bond in which we would help each other during the rough times in our life and it was during this time that others had suggested about me becoming a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS). This certification would allow me the ability to work with others like me and get paid. Making a long story short is that I would be paid for my life experience and by helping others helping themselves by setting and living the example of sober/clean life. I was very fortunate that I got to spend my time as a client of PIHC where I learned so many life skills and was extremely lucky when they offered me a paid position of being a CPS for them. It was then that I was really given a chance to give back to a community that had given back to me in my time of need. One of the things that I am very good about is the ability to always find the good out of every bad situation. I personally feel that each situation is a learning experience which only makes us stronger and wiser for what is to come in our future. I started working in May 2014 and I have learned so much about myself as well as about others. During my time doing what I do, I have met so many peers like myself and have helped them to discover what their goals and dreams are. I remember everyday how I felt when I first came in and I treat everyone I meet, as if they too are scared and feeling lonely as I once did. I know that when I first started my journey, I just wanted to feel normal and accepted by others. This is the motivation and drive that keeps me going everyday of my life no matter if it is work related or personal related.

My life is full of joy and happiness and I was raised to share those moments with others. Over the past 3 years I have learned that everyone is different as far as their needs and wants go but the one thing that I found in common with everyone is the ability to feel wanted, understood and loved. Each peer that I work with I spend time getting to know them and build a trusting relationship and always support their choices rather if I personally would make that choice or not. It’s not just my job but it is fulfilling for me to see other’s living out their dreams. I even spend time with other staff members in reminding them why we do what we do. That they are just as important for providing the services to my community and that it does not go unnoticed. The agency I work for offers many types of services to those in need. We have 4 major departments that still offers different programs within the department. We have a clinic that gives medical treatment for those affected by HIV, as well as a behavioral health department that gives a client an opportunity to work on any mental issues that they may come across. Even if there aren’t any mental issues, there still is a chance to work with someone in helping learn more about their diagnosis and accepting it. We also offer a substance abuse program for those that are ready to learn how to live life on life’s term without using drugs or alcohol to cope with it. We also have a prevention department that does many STI testing and risk reduction programs that are offered to the community members. We are in the process of adding a pharmacy which would help our clients to get multiple services under one roof, which would hopefully keep them in care and healthier.

Since being a client, PIHC has doubled in size with space and with staff members that give their all to help meet the needs of our community members. Out of everything I have ever done in my life this position with this agency is hands down the best thing that has ever happened to me. Where else can you go and work at the very agency that helped to make you a better person, who then pays you for your experiences in life to work with the same members of your community. PIHC has awarded me the opportunities to grow professionally and personally. I have always wanted to feel loved and wanted, and I feel those things plus much more. I often joke that working for a non-profit that you may never know when funding would run out that would provide you a paycheck for the week or not. Even if this was to happen to me, there is no way I would ever stop what I am doing. I was born with a life-threatening situation and I survived that. I have experienced many traumatic things in my life and I always managed to push through. During the low times in my life, my mother would always remind me that I had a purpose in this life. I now know what she meant and why my Higher Power had me go through these life experiences. It is by being a CPS/CARES (even a brother in recovery) that I finally understood why I experienced the things I have in my life. I finally have found my purpose in life. My purpose in life is to show others that you can live a life worth LOVING. My belief is that we should only live in the moment and that moment should be full of HAPPINESS and LOVE!!! So, how can I help you find your happiness today?????