Everything I do is for my kids. My kids are my reason. Our kids in the world are the future. I say that because when I was growing up, I wasn’t anyone’s reason. I grew up in Jersey City. It was a really rough neighborhood. Fights, shootings, killings, stabbings, and all that stuff was normal to me. I began running away from home and spending my life on the streets.
Then I moved out to Allentown in 2009. I thought it was a new start but it was the same thing as in Jersey City. It was worse. More shootings, killings, hits and runs, drugs, etc. And I was a part of that lifestyle. I ended up in prison in 2019. I lost everything. I lost my kids most importantly. That was when I knew I needed to make a change in my life.
I got out of prison and I was looking for a new life. That is when I found the Promise Neighborhood organization. They are a group that works with people who suffer from mental health issues, poverty, and people who have been released from prison. They really work with everybody. They are a group that is educational, fun, and inspiring. They welcomed me with open arms. No judgment at all. They made me feel welcomed, wanted, loved, appreciated, and they gave me hope for the future. They put me on the right path.
It was difficult at first to stay away from the old people I was hanging with. Prison ended up saving my life and coming home makes me never want to go back there. Now I am a working man with the group. I have my kids back. I love what I do now. I love giving back to the community. I love doing it for my kids.
For me it is all about the city. People don’t feel connected to Allentown. The system is broken. The system is set up for the Black and brown communities to struggle. I feel like the Black and brown communities are misrepresented. That really bothers me. It is difficult to pay rent, pay for gas, take care of your children, and do all the things that someone needs to live a life. I feel like Allentown does not care about the community.
We need more working cameras in the streets to lower the number of killings. We also need to help out the homeless. We need to make it easier for them to get into shelters. We need to save our children. They are the future. If we kill them, we end up killing our future.
If I had to give advice to my younger self I would say: Stay away from negative attitudes and people. Stay hopeful, don’t let anyone tell you who you are and that you’re not worth it. Be part of the solution and not the problem.
It is my dream to own a restaurant and have my kids work for nobody but themselves. My kids are my motivation to keep going and make this world a better place.
Interviewed by Colin Quinn ‘26, photo by Tom Amico