“They would ask me in school, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I didn’t say a doctor, a teacher, or a fireman. I said, ‘I want to be the biggest drug dealer in this neighborhood.'”
When Victor Rivera was growing up, he knew that wealth and prestige in his neighborhood—and in his family—came from being involved with gangs. And he was all too ready to follow in their footsteps.
[pullquote].@SaferFoundation counselor Victor Rivera tells @StoryCorps about gangs, 2nd chances + seeing clients like family[/pullquote]
But after the family pastor took Rivera under his wing and challenged him to change his thinking, Rivera began to define a new vision of success. Today, as a re-entry counselor at Safer Foundation, he helps other men change their path.
“When a client comes in, I treat them like my cousin. I treat them like my uncle. I treat them like, you know, a friend that grew up with my family. Because a lot of the things that they have done, somebody in my family has done,” Rivera explained in an interview with StoryCorps.
“If I didn’t want to see that in my own family, and I couldn’t help them back then, I sure don’t want to see that for anybody else, anybody else’s son, anybody else’s father, anybody else’s uncle. So I’m going to do good and right by that, by helping this guy in front of me.”
Listen to his story:
Hear more like this: Safer Foundation’s Anthony Lowery opens up to StoryCorps about addiction, incarceration + collateral consequences. Listen now