I remember in November of 2016, I was on the verge of being kicked out of where I was staying because I was late on my payments. At the time, I had gotten injured at work and was in my bed, crying and asking God for recovery. I felt I had no other choice and worked through my pain to get a retail job - but it was only part time. I was worried about paying all my bills and trying not to get kicked out. My roommate was trying not to hear it, and one month later we got into an argument and she decided to kick me out.
When I needed people to support me nobody did, except my best friend, Pedro, who I consider my brother. I was going crazy and bouncing back and forth between NY and NJ. Pedro invited me to live with him in his house rent free, but he could only help me for two months. He provided help and I was able to start working again. I never had anyone like this in my life. Pedro has four kids and yet he was still willing to help me to get off the streets. All of a sudden, my hopes started to rise. He was the person that gave me the information about Covenant House Pennsylvania. He is the reason that I can say that being homeless is the best thing that happened to me.
I arrived at Covenant House Pennsylvania in January of 2017. My transition was complicated. I didn’t feel welcome at first, but I was in denial. I was feeling miserable – I could never imagine that I had to beg for help. The first staff I met told me, “Look man, I know that you feel miserable right now but you are about to be blessed.” He asked if I was hungry and helped me to relax. He told me, “After one night here you are going to feel like you just won the lottery.”
I was shocked, I didn’t believe it. I never expected a place to help me like this without wanting anything in return. I was still undecided about staying but the staff told me about Rights of Passage (ROP). I was so happy to hear about the program. I decided to stay because the staff understood how I felt and I understood what ROP could do for someone like me.
I lived in the Covenant House for six weeks before moving to ROP in late February. I spoke with Miss Natalie and we had our interview. She showed me the building and I met the staff members. I was nervous at first because I thought I would have trouble following the rules and norms. But I didn’t!
After moving to ROP, I was finally able to feel normal again and have a regular life. It took me some time to get to know the staff. They all care about my future and help me stay focused on my goals. Miss Natalie is a caring person and she loves what she does. Thanks to her and the staff, I decided to go to college. ROP is a great opportunity to expand your horizons if you take advantage of the opportunities.
I currently work for a private security company and I am also in Pierce College’s Year Up program and am working on my Associate’s degree. I aim to work in corporate America after finishing my education. Thanks to the support of Covenant House Pennsylvania, I now read more books and I even started boxing. My goals for boxing are very high since I want to become a professional boxer. I want to prove to myself that I can be the best that I can be. Next year, I want to go from being homeless to being a champion.