The neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey where Darin grew up was bad. But his home was worse.
Darin’s father abused the entire family, especially his mother. Even though he was only a child, he knew he had to escape. So he went out into the street. And there they were: the guys everybody knew not to mess with. But they took Darin under their wing. “I got more love and support from them than I ever did at home. They became my family and they taught him how to be ‘strong.’”
When Darin was 14, he walked in on his father beating his mother. For the first time, he stood up to him. “Maybe he thought I had learned too much from him. Maybe he thought that the streets were making me tougher than him. Whatever he thought, he packed his bags and never came back.”
But his father had been the breadwinner. Now there was no food in the house, and they couldn’t pay the rent. So Darin quit school and got a job as a dishwasher. He got away with it for months before they realized he was only in the 8th grade and he had to go back to school. But he still needed money…so he started selling drugs.
Darin went to prison for the first time when he was 20 years old. And for the next twenty years, he just kept going back. Four years ago, Darin reached his lowest point. He was homeless, jobless, and hopeless. “I finally realized: either I was going to break this cycle, or I was going to stay broken.” That’s when he walked through the doors of Ready, Willing & Able and never looked back.
Now Darin is a student at Bronx Community College. He’s a mentor…an employee…and sober. “And this is just the beginning.”