portrait shot of Brian
“I am proud of my sobriety. I am proud of the knowledge that I’ve been able to meet and make personal friends and business acquaintances. I am proud that I started Project Place’s programs and I finished them and have a sense of accomplishment.” 

For thirty years, Brian struggled with alcohol and drug addiction. By 2018, he found himself drifting from state to state, working menial jobs and searching for security.   

In the winter of 2018, Brian froze to the sidewalk in Colorado. That was the winter he began his recovery from addiction. He says, “I quit everything. I don’t even smoke cigarettes anymore.” Brian came to Boston in 2019, where he stayed in a shelter while looking for opportunities to get back on his feet. One day, a man staying in the shelter told Brian about Project Place.   

Brian started Project Place’s Work Ready class in November 2019. Work Ready teacher, Manny, helped Brian improve his computer skills so he could be prepared for the workforce. One of Brian’s other teacher’s, Victoria, has also had a lasting impact on his life. He shares that Victoria is an excellent educator and has an incredible ability to bring out the best in people. “Any questions or concerns were always answered with a respectful and dignified response.”  

After graduating from Work Ready, Brian went through Project Place’s Industry Internship Program where he received a ServSafe certification and a Customer Service certification (accomplishing a perfect score on his exam). For three months, Brian worked in Project Place’s transitional employment program. He joined Project Place’s Clean Corners…Bright Hopes team, who provide public maintenance and janitorial services to businesses throughout Boston. The site that Brian worked at most regularly was Cannistraro, one of Project Place’s employer partners. He says that the company’s president, John Cannistaro, was often checking in with the Clean Corners team and getting to know them. “Mr. Cannistraro is a wholesome, genuine, caring man,” says Brian. “It was a really supportive place to work.” 

“Everyone I crossed paths with through Project Place was extremely supportive – from my teachers, to my Clean Corners supervisors, to the business people I’ve been introduced to…Project Place didn’t give me a hand out, but a hand up – to get my foot in the door. My confidence came back in my abilities. And I was homeless, but not hopeless.”  

“The biggest challenge you face every day when you’re homeless is the deep frustration you feel. Before coming to Boston, I was just another person in a line. There was no genuine outreach to help. I didn’t feel like people saw me as an individual.” Brian says that he now knows there are programs like the ones at Project Place that are available to help. Learning there are people out there who care, has made a real difference in Brian’s life.  

In February 2020, Brian was hired at Block-by-Block, another one of Project Place’s employer partners. Brian now works as an ambassador at the Rose Kennedy Greenway Park, providing safety, cleaning, hospitality and outreach services. For Brian, this job is an important stepping-stone in his career path. “I love the job. I can’t say enough how kind and supportive everyone is at Block-by-Block”. He says a strategy he was taught to use in his job as a Block-By-Block ambassador is “stop, think, act”. Brian says he uses this mantra in his everyday life. “Instead of charging headlong into situations, I now stop and think before I act. I stop and think about why a door is closed to me and how to open it up. That is how Project Place helped me, to understand how to overcome the obstacles in my way. And all the doors are open, when you do the right thing.” 

Over the last few months, Brian has also found an apartment. “When I first came to Project Place 4 months ago, I didn’t have a job or a home. Now I have both. It was a long journey from living on the streets to get to where I am today, looking out the window of my apartment. Now I can answer the phone, or the door, and look people in the eye. I wouldn’t trade anything for the life I have today.” 

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