Meet Us Monday: Donyel, Peer House Leader

Meet Donyel, one of our Peer House Leaders. Donyel is from the East End and Highland Park in Richmond, Virginia. Since he was the first grandchild and nephew for his three aunts, he felt he had five mothers. He grew up with a lot of love and respect. His father was in the streets and an addict but to Donyel, it seemed to never trickle into the home. When his father died, Donyel was fooled into thinking he could be use drugs and have a “normal” life. But his drug use led to addiction, which led to long term incarceration.
When he was released from prison, he was not prepared to handle his new life. He did not know how to secure and maintain a job as he was not used to the Internet or cell phones. Nor did he know how to socialize and have a normal life. This made him turn to drugs and run the streets. Donyel would get clean, relapse and was in and out of prison.
While he was incarcerated the last time, however, his wife died. Her death made him want his life to have some meaning, her death serve a purpose and gave him the motivation to complete REAL LIFE. This time he was really ready and felt he deserved a better life. He was tired of being embarrassed and depressed.
He was open letting the REAL LIFE staff think for him until he could think for himself. Donyel followed the blueprint and structure of the program. He now has a life he is proud of. REAL LIFE was his first experience realizing he could be drug free and have a good life.
Donyel is good with people, patient, tolerant and understanding. Because his story relates to so many people in addiction, he feels he can give back by sharing it with others. He enjoys being a Peer House Leader and interacting with the other men. He also holds a full-time job, of which he is very proud. He would like to go to college, become a Peer Support Specialist and work with people in addiction.
He loves seeing how his family and friends respond to the new Donyel. It makes him very proud of what he has accomplished. He says REAL LIFE saved his life. Staying connected to Narcotics Anonymous, the structure of REAL LIFE and spirituality has helped him not relapse. Everyday, he thanks God for the opportunity of getting it right. Talking about his past helps him stay clean. The more he talks and shares the happier he is as helping others keeps him clean.
Way to go, Donyel! We are so proud of what you have achieved!