Meet Us Monday: Clarence, Peer House Leader
Meet Clarence, 36, a Peer House Leader at REAL LIFE. His father was in the Air Force and the family moved often, but southside Richmond was always home. The neighborhood was rougher and he started running the streets and getting into trouble at a young age. At 15, he was shot and became addicted to pain pills; when the pain pills became hard to obtain, he turned to heroin. At 17, Clarence experienced jail for the first time, and would find, throughout most of his adult life he would cycle in and out of jail. He never completed high school, dropping out in his senior year.
During his last time in jail, Clarence realized he had a problem and wanted a new life. He had tried on his own before, but failed and knew he needed support in order to accomplish the changes he desired. He was tired of going in and out of jail, didn’t want to get into trouble anymore and desired a new way of living. In January of 2022 he came to REAL LIFE to find a new beginning.
REAL LIFE gave him the tools he needed to conquer, what seemed like, an overpowering heroin addiction. The structure and skills learned in the program gave his mind clarity and helped him stop the addictive lifestyle. It was a place he could deal with internal issues and get himself together, while becoming the person he wanted to be. The staff and residents became a second family for him, he successfully completed an advanced high school diploma and GED.
In July he graduated from the program but continued to stay with REAL LIFE as a Peer House Leader. Clarence feels he still needs the structure and support of the REAL LIFE program. He likes helping others with their recovery and this also helps him remain accountable. Everyone is on the same journey together, and his Pathway Navigator, Young, is with him every step of the way.
Clarence is working on his Peer Recovery Specialist certification, which gives him tools and techniques to help other people deal with drug and mental health problems. He loves his role as Peer House Leader, it gives him opportunities to interact with others seeking a better life for themselves.
He presently works at Steves & Son on their production line making various types of doors. His work environment is positive; to make the day fun, there are daily production goals and the team that achieves the goal receives a reward. He enjoys the different daily goals, the race to the goal and the potential reward at the end.
In the future Clarence wants to take business courses to help him with his dream of owning his own business designing clothes. In the meantime, he plans on staying at REAL LIFE until he has everything in order to own his own place, he loves his work at REAL LIFE and the chances it gives him to help others.