Like many of our Project Comeback graduates, Kelvin’s journey to us was a long one. He came to our program with a history of drug and alcohol abuse and a pattern of institutionalization for possession, selling and petty theft. Given the circumstances of his childhood, Kelvin got caught up early in a destructive cycle he could not see his way out of and, while he says it was “one hell of a ride,” he also admits, “I just could not see the depth of hell I was lowering myself to.”
On February 23rd, 2007, Kelvin was arrested for selling crack to an undercover officer. With four priors, he was considered a persistent offender and faced “a pretty stiff sentence.” But during his subsequent incarceration, Kelvin made a decision. “God stepped in and put breaks on all my grandiose schemes. He put me in a place where I worshipped him most,” he says, “—in prison.” Although Kelvin had been unsuccessful in previous treatment programs, he finally realized, “this is it for me. I need help,” and he decided to get clean.
He was admitted to Daytop Services in Far Rockaway on January 4, 2008, finally ready to make a commitment to sobriety. His new counselor told him, “Let down your resistance,” and, slowly but surely, Kelvin did just that. He began to share himself, to come out of his shell, and pretty soon “doors started to open.” He began to see himself in a different light. “I wasn’t just a tough guy, wasn’t just the father who had abandoned his child and his family.” “My problem,” he says, “once I admitted I had a problem, was the crack cocaine.” Kelvin has been clean ever since.
When a friend told him about ACE and Project Comeback, Kelvin was reluctant. The idea of cleaning the streets didn’t match his image, but then he stopped and weighed his options: “image vs. getting my life back… And, lo and behold, I put my image on the shelf.” It only took an hour to convince Kelvin he had chosen the right road. He remembers his intake interview with ACE case manager John Ellert as the first day of the rest of his life. With John’s help, Kelvin was able to truly open up and commit to reclaiming his life. In Project Comeback, Kelvin worked and worked hard, taking the program day by day. He began to realize, “If I don’t count the time and make the time count, things are getting better.” Now, Kelvin says, “I make the clock work for me.”
Kelvin graduated from ACE on October 8, 2009 and has been gainfully employed at a homeless shelter in Fort Washington Homeless ever since. He works the night shift from midnight to 8 AM as a program assistant, monitoring the clients and facility. He plans to apply for the Buhl Scholarship to Metropolitan College as soon as he reaches the six-month employment benchmark. “I’m SoHo for life!” he says, and we believe in him.
Kelvin plans to pursue a career in substance abuse counseling. “I really want to be in the field where I’m giving back,” he says. Kelvin’s son is now twenty-three and has two kids of his own, so Kelvin wants to be “the best grandfather ever,” to do everything in his power to make sure the cycle stops with him. He realizes his responsibility to himself, saying, “Now I don’t make promises. I just show up and do. I have to take care of myself before I can take care of anybody else.”
I have to take care of myself before I can take care of anybody else.
When you ask Kelvin about his life at present, he answers, “I’m having a ball.” He speaks of his commitment to his sobriety and his gratitude to ACE for the second chance. “It all goes back to my higher power, who I choose to call God—that’s where my gratefulness comes from. Some people say, ‘God works in mysterious ways.’ I just say, ‘God works.’”