Jimmy’s Success Story

acegraduation_0913_3860When James was released from prison in 2008 at the age of 61, he felt he had hit rock bottom. Saddled with a dark history of lifelong addiction and crime, and having nowhere to turn for help, he found life empty and meaningless. “I was a hard worker and an intelligent person, but the drugs took over my life,” he says. “Once I had started using, I never had the power to stop.”


Before his sentence, James worked as a barber, warehouse foreman and forklift operator, but he had difficulties getting back on his feet and finding a new job. Sinking deep into isolation and melancholy, he turned to alcohol and heroin to feel better. However, in 2012, he reached his turning point. “I was in terrible shape. I was homeless, and I was 65 years old. I had spent all my money on drugs, and had not had a job since 1990. I had no family and no relatives – nothing.”


Anxious to regain his health and get his life back in order, James’s first step was to check into a substance abuse treatment program, from where he was later referred to ACE. Although he tried to maintain a positive outlook, he was worried that his age and lack of recent work experience would be too much of an obstacle to finding employment. “It was important for me to get back into society, but I didn’t know what I was capable of doing anymore. I kept thinking, ‘How am I going to start my life over at 65?’”


It turned out that James had nothing to worry about. Thanks to his excellent people skills and leadership abilities, he was soon selected by ACE staff to train and supervise new crew workers, as well as perform special services for ACE’s local business members. He successfully graduated from Project Comeback in 2013, and now works as a maintenance technician for the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District in Brooklyn. Happy and grateful over his new life, he emphasizes, “There’s so much about life to enjoy, but you’re not going to learn anything or get anywhere if you keep repeating the same mistakes. If you want to help yourself and start your life over, ACE is the place to go.”

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