Octavio recently graduated from our Work Ready class. In January, he wrote his story in a Telling Your Story Writing Workshop, designed by Project Place staff and volunteers.
“I was born in a blizzard in 1978, in Cambridge Massachusetts.
By age four, I was taken away from my mother, as she had a mental illness called schizophrenia. I never really noticed it until the age of fourteen, and between those years I always thought I wasn’t wanted. I moved from foster home to foster home, never feeling accepted and found negative ways to get attention. I was very active and athletic and made the Varsity High School basketball team as a freshman. I can remember all the joy I used to feel at parks and in the locker room, feeling a sense of acceptance. I was easily influenced though and by the end of freshman year I began smoking weed. This ultimately ruined my dreams of being in the NBA and by sophomore year I was kicked off the team for skipping school to hang out with the ‘cool kids’. I started hanging in the streets, finding the family aspect of gang life. I found myself doing things that were very damaging to me and the surrounding community I hung around. By the age of fourteen I found myself in DYS custody and was really struggling with living life without acting out. I lived in ten different cities from Natick to West Roxbury and never felt accepted. With that I just never felt like there was hope. Then I graduated high school at the age of 20 years old and felt a sense of accomplishment. I had my first two children in 1998 and 1999. I felt the pressure of providing and thought selling illegal substances was the answer. This led to a life of addiction and imprisonment. From the age of 21 to 41 I spent 12 years in and out of prison, figuring out that my plan wasn’t working.
I will say that all my pain and suffering made me who I am today – strong, intelligent, responsible, honest. Today I know there is hope; today I know that I can ask for help; today I can achieve all things as long as I stay clean and optimistic.”