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“Helping others was how I learned to help myself.” CARMEN
BACK IN 2002, I was having a really bad day, and I asked a friend to get coffee with me at
a diner. Instead, she told me she knew of a place where the coffee was always free – and that’s how I was introduced to CitiWide. On my first day, I met the Executive Director, and talked to my new case manager for 2 hours. Pretty soon, I got into my first training program at CitiWide, “Blunt Reality,” and after that, there was no stopping me. I’ve gone to ever possible training I could since!
CitiWide is great for people who may not be ready to stop using, but still need a place to get their stuff together, without being judged. People say that you can’t get clean at a harm reduction program, but I did; I haven’t used since August 15, 2002, when I was doing outreach as a peer worker. I was able to see myself in the participants I was meeting in the SROs - helping others was how I learned to help myself.
Now, I work as a Peer mainly in the Syringe Exchange Program, but I do a little bit of everything around here. The weekend program we just started is really great. Do you know how many times participants have begged me not to close on Saturdays? A lot people have nowhere else to go, especially if they’re homeless. Others would really like to learn how to make resumes, and develop interviewing skills [as part of the new Sunday program.]
What keeps me at CitiWide are the people and the environment – people here stick together as a team. The staff has also supported me in achieving my other goals, like getting laser eye surgery a couple months back. I was afraid, but people here helped me learn about the procedure, and promised to check up on me afterwards. Before I came to CitiWide, I was feeling really down on myself. Overall, being here has definitely transformed me into a much happier person.
Participants on this website gave written consent to being depicted and quoted here. No inference should be drawn regarding the medical condition or HIV status of any individuals shown, named or quoted in this publication.